Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Book Cover Creation ~ Macy by April McGowan


Last week, I was at it again. Though so very close to finishing a manuscript, I had a headache and a few other distractions that shattered my writing-concentration, so I turned to a cover that I probably should have had done a month ago. ;-) This is for Macy, by April McGowan, releasing from WhiteFire in June.

When April and I first started talking about this book and cover possibilities, I was excited to learn that her heroine was young, beautiful, and a redhead. See, I'd had this model saved to my Shutterstock lightbox for months, and I was just desperate to find a book that needed her for the cover, LOL. Her photos capture such mood, and she's got such an expressive face.

Screenshot of Shutterstock
I sent the link for her to April, saying, "Hey, could she possibly work for Macy? Maybe? Possibly?" To which April gave a resounding "YES!"

So it was a matter of choosing the perfect pose. I tried several, with several different accenting photos, and decided on this one.
We liked how isolated Macy looks in this, and the moodiness of it. In the beginning of the book, Macy feels very much alone and, as April put it, "everything is about Macy." The book also involves a journey, plus a lot of literal roads--young Macy is married to a much-older truck driver. So I wanted to incorporate a road somehow. I at first fell for this dramatic black and white road picture.
But it was no longer available by the time I got around to finalizing the cover, which worked out well in the end. =) Since the book is set in Oregon, I instead searched for Oregon roads, and we decided on this one.
Now, this is a contemporary, so in a lot of ways it's an easier cover to design. No photoshopping historical outfits onto models, not a lot of texture. But I still had my work cut out for me. For starters, Macy has bright red hair. So my first step was to change the hair color of the model in the photo.

For those of you interested in the detailed how-to, here's how I do that. Red is an easy color to change to, especially when the original picture has blonde (or in this case red-blonde) hair already. I copied the Macy figure and pasted her right on top of herself, in a separate layer. That's the layer I fiddled with. I changed the color balance toward red, darkened it a bit, played with the contrast and brightness until it looked natural. Then I erased from that layer all the parts I wanted to come through from the bottom layer--skin and coat and background.

This is where the work came in, making all those peeks of background through her hair come through without looking abrupt. It's not hard, just takes a lot of time. Here's the result.
But I didn't like those long curls at the bottom. I'm sure they look great in person, LOL, but it was kind of in the way for me, so I gave her a digital haircut. ;-)
So if I were to slap my two pictures together willy-nilly, they look like this.
Doesn't exactly look like a book cover, right? LOL. My first step was to add a fade-out to both layers.
This helped, but they still don't exactly blend well. So I started fooling with the colorization of the road layer. I added lighting effects to both layers to add some extra mood. I inserted a lens flare on the model layer, right below her, kinda add a vanishing point for the two pictures.

Then, in a stroke of brilliance, LOL, I deleted that bright blue sky.

Now we're getting somewhere! But I was in the mood for mood by this point. I decided to play around with a faded-out color layer overtop the whole picture. I tried a few different hues, but it had to be blue.
I loved how this looked in the clouds, and the way it filled in the sky, but obviously I don't want her to be blue. So I applied a layer mask and used my gradient fade out to create a circle where the blue is gone.
That's what I was going for! All that was left to do was add the words. In searching through fonts, I decided to go with the expressive, signature-looking style of Before the Rain.

Then I thought it would be fun to put the M behind the model, but let the Y come over her. To do this, I had to rasterize the layer and then manually delete some of the M. I also plopped on April's name, in the same font we used for her previous cover. And added "a novel" in that lens flare. And there we have it!

16 comments:

  1. As always, following your design creation is so much fun! Thank you, Roseanna.

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  2. I love it. There's a haunting quality about this cover.

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  3. Yes, I love what you do with our covers!

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  4. It's completely her. I love it so much! Can't wait to hold it :-)

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    1. And I'm so glad it's completely her, because I so love that model, LOL.

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  5. Very beautiful! I loved watching the progress of this project. Cool!

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    1. Thanks, Mary! I do these fairly regularly at this point, so if it's a process you enjoy, feel free to stop by again. ;-)

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  6. Very nice. Good to see the progression of the cover. I am so glad you do this -- seems hard to do. Congratulations to you and April. (she is my dtr) :-)

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    1. Sometimes it can be hard, sometimes it comes together well...and it all took a lot of learning. =)

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  7. Gorgeous! Even though you gave a how-to lesson, I still couldn't accomplish the same result. That's why I write and you design covers. :) Of course, I am glad you also write. Your stories are fantastic.

    Blessings,
    Andrea

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    1. LOL, thanks Andrea. =) I have fun doing both. Though it's now funny to think that five years ago, I had no clue how to even pretend to do a digital design. I've come a long way!

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  8. Gorgeous work! ANYone from the Northwest will recognize that highway scene. The mood, the color, the composition -- ALL perfect!

    Don

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  9. These are some of my favorite posts to read! I think it is so fascinating what you can do!! Thanks for taking the time to blog about this and please keep doing it! Love it!

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  10. You know I love these posts! So very cool.

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