Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Remember When . . . Soul Painter Came to Life?

Well last week's cover post was so much fun, I decided to do another one today. =) Especially because this week I'm editing the truly-amazing book behind the cover.

Soul Painter is set in 1891 Chicago--a city of crime and excess, where the opium dens butt up against churches, where the opulence contrasts the squalor. The author of this book is Cara Luecht (pronounced "Licked"--I asked), and she has a skill the likes of which I haven't seen in years for painting a mood.

What mood, you ask? Gothic. A touch of film noire. The elements are every designer's dream. We have an eccentric hermit of a heroine--Miriam Beaumont hasn't, so far as Chicago knows, stepped foot out of her warehouse apartment since her father died some years ago. Maybe she's a witch. Maybe she was terribly burned in an industrial accident. Maybe...maybe...

Maybe she preferred to watch the world go by.

But she did go outside. Once in a while. Only at night. Only in the fog. Then she would pace the streets around her dormant warehouse, beside the cathedral. She would look up at the statue of the Virgin Mary outside it and identify with the cracked creation. But she would always return before dawn could pierce the fog.

And she would paint. She would watch the faces that went by, and she would paint. First what her eyes saw.

And then what her soul did. Over the layers of reality she would paint...the future. For years, she had done this, and then watched the children grow up into the image she had seen.

Until Ione. Ione was supposed to be strong. Ione was supposed to be successful. So why is the young woman now haunting the alleyway between the warehouse and cathedral as a prostitute? It puts her in the path of an attacker who preys on such women, who nearly kills her. Until the fog rolls in.

So begins an unlikely team of crime fighters. A hermit. A priest. A lawyer. Two prostitutes. Can they bring light to the seedy underbelly of Chicago? And maybe discover something about themselves--and of course, find some romance--along the way?

Curious yet? ;-)

This is a truly fabulous book, and the moment I read the proposal, I knew we wanted it. And I was already envisioning the cover. I wanted to capture Miriam on one of her foggy night walks. Gray cloak obscuring her features, apprehension on her face. Perhaps when she first heard that moan coming from Ione. Perhaps when she sees dawn sneaking in.

As usual, I started with the stock photo sites, searching for images of women in cloaks. This was the best image I found for Miriam.
There's a lot right about this--it's full length, which I loved. The look on her face is great. Her face itself is a decent Miriam. But the braid--no. The color of the dress--no. For that matter, the color of the cape--no. And of course, the background is all wrong.

So I started by erasing the background and that braid. (Oh, how I love the clone and heal tools in Photoshop!)
Now that I had her isolated, I started playing with the colors. I decided to make the dress a teal. It is, in fact, not a color Miriam ever wore at this point in the story, but she ends up with a very important dress that draws on that color palette, and I like the idea of bringing it in.
Then I made the cloak gray.
At some point I remembered to change her eye color to gray too, but I don't remember when I did that, LOL.

So my next task was the background. I actually did a lot of searching for this one, trying to find that perfect image that would capture Chicago at the time. I searched, and I searched. I tried some arches. I tried some doorways. And then I growled and tried "cathedral." Bingo!

This is actually from New Orleans, LOL, but it's the right style and age, and I loved the picture itself. Foggy, which blurs the street lights enough that you can't really tell if they're gas or electric.
But it's too bright--you know, like day--and I wanted some serious mood. So I darkened the image and added a color overlay. Teal again, to pull in the dress. (And took out that orange traffic cone, LOL. Eventually. Actually didn't notice it until Cara said, "Uh, Roseanna...?")
 
Ah, much better. =) Now to plug Miriam into it.
Okay, now we're getting somewhere. There's just one rather crucial piece missing.

The fog.

I deemed this a learning experience and hit Google. =) You know what I love about the internet these days? There are tutorials for everything online. I'd never tried to create fog in Photoshop before, but I knew it could be done. So I typed "how to make fog in Photoshop" into my handy-dandy search engine, and voila! A tutorial! Better yet, it's easy. A pretty simple matter of creating a new layer, adding the cloud filter, and then fooling with the fade gradient.

So I added a layer of fog to Miriam by the cathedral.
Ah yes, there we are! That's what I was looking for!

Now, the masterful Cara Luecht also has some background in design, and an eye that shows it. She knew exactly what she wanted for her cover in terms of style. She wanted a black block at the bottom, a flourish coming up behind it, and the tag line for the book on there.

I actually had some trouble finding a flourish that would work. There are tons of free flourishes out there online, but they're small. And I needed to make this one HUGE. So I actually ended up buying a vector pack, which I try to avoid for this sort of element, LOL. And selected this one.
Now, the title. We actually debated a bit about this too. =) Cara had at first titled it Portrait of Grace, which was thematically awesome. Problem was, it didn't speak to the mystery and intrigue. And mystery and intrigue are a very vital element to this story, so we tossed around several different ideas. Drew on our other awesome WhiteFire authors to vote. And decided on Soul Painter. Because, well, she paints the souls of people. And paints them from her soul. So it works. =)

Hence began the search for a font. I couldn't find one that I loved, so I ended up patching a couple together. The S in Soul is different than the rest.
Then we had only to put it all together!

And I'm thrilled to say that when I posted this one to Facebook, I got a bigger response than I ever had to a cover. My book club ladies even approached me at a Christmas event that week and said, "We're reading that, right? Tell me more about it!" That tag line and the cover hooked them. Which is, of course, our goal. =)

And it's a book that deserves to hook. It's got intrigue, spiritual truths, history, romance, and hope against a backdrop of darkness. Love it. Seriously. And you will too. So you know, if you wanna pre-order, feel free. ;-)

23 comments:

  1. I love reading about your design process, Roseanna! Thanks so much for painting another word picture for us.

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    1. Happily. =) It'll probably be my last one for a while...until I, you know, design some more, LOL.

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  2. Looks so cool! Thank you for sharing!

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  3. Thanks Roseanna, you did an amazing job! Can't wait to get my hands on it:)

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    1. I so know the feeling. =) It's gonna be gorgeous. ;-)

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  4. I love seeing how you do this! My only question is . . . does someone in the story fall in love? I'm not sure I could talk myself into reading a book if there's not at least a little bit of a love story in it . . .

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    1. Oh yes, there's romance! I guess I didn't ramble my way to that. ;-)

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    2. Then I'm totally buying it once it's out! :-) Sounds like an awesome story! (And I would have missed the traffic cone too.)

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  5. Love reading how you come up with your covers. Such fun! And I'm so glad you all went with "Soul Painter." It seems to capture the essence of the book. Can't wait to read it.

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    1. Doesn't it though? And you're going to love the book!

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  6. Oh. Wow. This is truly amazing. I love this step by step process. And the book has me intrigued. I can't wait to read it. WhiteFire books are awesome!

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    1. Hence why yours fits right in. ;-) And thanks!

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  7. Roseanna, you are a master at this. I'm so.... impressed. The cover is gorgeous.

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  8. Awesome cover! I loved watching it come together! And the book itself sounds good as well!

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    1. The book is AMAZING, Abbi. =) And the cover was so much fun to do!

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  9. Fascinating process! I love the title and the tag line. Can't wait to read the book.

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    1. Thanks, Kate. =) Both are great indicators of the book!!

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  10. Love seeing the process. Thanks for sharing!

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