Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Book Cover Creation - Gathered Waters by Cara Luecht

I figured we were due for a cover design post. =) And since I've working on one of those this week, now seemed a fine time.

This time around, I'm working on a cover for the second book by one of WhiteFire's authors, Cara Luecht. This book is set to come out early 2015; we're in the editing process now, and since we like to have covers well in advance, we got to work on that side of things too. Cara knew what she was looking for in this cover, which always makes my job easier. She wanted a heroine in profile, at the top of the page, with her head only partially visible. She wanted her holding something. She wanted the title in the center of the page, and a scene that ties in with the book below.

So. I started by looking for good images of her heroine, Brianna. Brianna lives in Sweden in 1885; she has blond hair, which would have been worn up, and she would obviously be decked out in the fashions of the day. The story follows some of the first Baptists in Sweden from their home, where they were persecuted, to America. Based on the author's family history, Gathered Waters isn't just about religious freedom, though--it's about a woman's journey to finding who she is, what she's called to do, in a world that would keep her in a narrow definition. Brianna has to find the strength and faith within her own heart to undergo this journey.

When looking for a good picture of a historical heroine--as in, one with her hair up--I've discovered that it's often handy to look up photos of brides. That's where I began. I searched for "blond bride profile," and I found our Brianna.
I loved the hairstyle, I liked the way she was standing, and she was holding flowers, which would work well for me...sort of. Rather than carrying a bouquet, I wanted her to be holding a single tulip. But this lovely young lady got me started.

The next step was to flip her around and delete everything I didn't need.
Obviously, deleting her dress leaves her with a floating arm, but that's okay. I knew I was going to put some historical garb on her. I found some great, free images of 1880 clothing in profile. This is the one we decided on.
Putting the two together was a pretty simple matter of cut and paste...except for that arm.
Pretty funny, right? I know it gave me a giggle to have the arm sprouting from her stomach--but I knew the waist down would be faded out, so I could copy and paste the sleeve into the right place. First though, I had to deal with the color. While I really like the original color of the dress, the title wouldn't show up well against it, so I wanted it to be white.

I've tried a lot of different ways of altering color, but for this one, since I was going white but wanted to preserve the shadows, the way to do it was to go up to Image / Adjustment / Levels.
Now that I had the dress the color I wanted, I worked on the sleeve. I basically just copied that portion of the image, pasted it, rotated it, and deleted the parts I didn't want. Because the sleeve is large and stiff at the wrist, it covered the arm beautifully, with no need to convince it. And because the image would be faded out, you can't see where the elbow folds would have been.

In the image above, I've also already added another touch I wanted--the color in the collar and buttons. To get that, I just pasted the original dress image overtop and deleted everything but collar and buttons, which were gold to begin with. I like the contrast this achieved.

I also already adjusted her hand a bit--because she was holding a large bouquet, her fingers were spread. To make her hold a single tulip, her fingers needed to be curled tight. So I just deleted the extra length of finger, careful to "trim" it around the knuckles.

So next comes the tulip. I found a picture of white tulips for free.
I copied a flower. I copied a leaf. I used the Warp feature to bend it a bit. Put it in her hand. And voila.
So there's the top of the book. Now for the bottom. I was thrilled to find this gorgeous picture of a Swedish stream in winter. The water, the snow, the daybreak all play critical roles in the story, and the lighting here was just breathtaking. I am, as I've no doubt said before, a sucker for good lighting.
Isn't it lovely?? Now, if I were to just plop it down, it would look like this.
Of course, I faded the bottom layer too:
We're getting there! But I didn't want a white background behind Brianna. So I instead made it a soft yellow and then added some lighting effects.
Muuuuuch better, right? I like how the colors play off each other now, and it's starting to feel more harmonious. But I don't just want a smooth texture like that. Upon giving it some thought, I decided a frost or snowflake texture would be cool. At first I think blue would be nice. So I decide on this.
 I try putting it over my cover, fading the opacity to 40%.
Which, um, no. Isn't what I'm going for. I don't like how the cyan blue works with the golds. BUT--I've learned that you can adjust layers in many different ways. Rather than keep this one "normal," I choose "divide" in the tab on my toolbar, and suddenly I have exactly what I'm looking for.
Isn't that texture nice?! I love it. So now for the words. I opt for the simple elegance of SnellRoundhand Script for my font. I decide to make the two beginning letters larger than the rest and line them up. Tossing in a simple divider and Cara's name, I get this.
I really like this...mostly. But I'd rather, if the G and W are going to cross, that they actually join. I love the harmony of it when letters join up on a cover. So I rasterize those layers so that I can alter the font and create a loop. Like so.
Isn't that cool? =) So then I just put it onto the cover, and there we have it! The final!

22 comments:

  1. Gorgeous!!! And you make it sound so easy, which I know it isn't :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL. Well, I give you guys the streamlined version, absent all the things I try that look stupid. ;-)

      Delete
  2. Wow. How long this this take? Also, was this done with photoshop (of whoch I have zero knowledge of)? Were all your free images from Shutterstock?

    Looks so complicated (with my not so great computer skills) but I'm so glad you broke it down.

    Tell the World

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It usually takes me a day to do a book cover--half of it spent in deciding on images, and the other half actually working them properly. I always end up doing it twice--once with watermarked images to make sure it's what we're going for, then with the purchased images. All in Photoshop, yes. =)

      The paid images were from Shutterstock and iStockPhoto -- the free tulip image and dress were from wikimedia, and I found the texture in a search for "free Photoshop textures." Designers often put packs of these up online as freebies, which I love. =)

      Delete
  3. Another gorgeous example of your work, Roseanna. I own Photoshop Elements, and I can do a few things, but nothing like this. I don't think I'd even try!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We had an old version of Photoshop for...ever. Seriously, I don't even remember when we first got it. But last year we invested in an upgrade to the brand-new, full package including InDesign and the latest PS, and I'm SO GLAD we did! Given that I've been doing these designs, it became necessary. And I have a blast with it. =D

      Delete
  4. Talented in so many ways.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Love it! You did an awesome job. And that brilliant idea about pinning a bride's head onto old clothing? I'm so going to have to steal that some day soon! Awesome work, lady!!! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. It's gorgeous. I'm in awe of your talent.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Suzie! I know well how limited it is, but so long as no one else can tell by looking at the end-product... ;-)

      Delete
  7. Roseanna, you are amazing! I won't be surprised if the big houses start hiring you! Simply beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL. I won't be holding my breath on that one, but thanks. =)

      Delete
  8. This is so cool! I'm impressed by your savvy--always. The cover is just lovely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Susie! I love how it turned out. =)

      Delete
  9. Beautiful!! Thanks for walking us through the steps. Very interesting! And I know it isn't nearly as easy as you make it sound.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well...I certainly condense it for these posts, LOL. But some of the steps really are that easy. Photoshop is an amazing thing. ;-)

      Delete
  10. I love reading about cover designs! Thanks for sharing yours! Truly beautiful!

    Sue

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sue! I always love reading about them too--hence why I figured I'd start doing them now and then. =)

      Delete
  11. It's a fascinating process and I think this is my favourite cover of all that you've shared here - it makes me want to read the book!

    ReplyDelete