Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Book Cover Design - A Fair to Remember

WhiteFire has contracted a series that's going to be so much fun. This is a stand-alone series, where each book will be able to stand totally on its own and be read out of order, set around the Worlds Fairs of the early 20th century. History, romance, and a bit of suspense in each one...yes, please!

The author is Suzie Johnson, author of Sweet Mountain Music and some contemporaries too. Suzie is a complete sweetheart, and it's a true pleasure to work with her. So naturally, I want to give her the best possible covers for this series. (Okay, I always want to give an author the best possible cover, LOL. But you know.) I started playing around months ago.

The time period is Edwardian. Always fun...but stock photos are limited. My first idea combined this photo:

with this photo of the PanAmerican Expo in Buffalo:
Which resulted in this:
Not a bad starting place. We both really liked it. And we came this close to going with it...but here's the problem. I couldn't replicate the layout for the other books in the series--agghhhh!

So I kept going back to the drawing board. First trying, trying, trying to find images that would work for books 2 and 3 along a similar line. And failing, failing, failing. My search for Edwardian images led me all over the web.

I even came across some public domain photography of the actress Lily Elsie, on which Suzie's heroine, Clara, is based.
And then, on Deviant Art, I came across a stunning colorization of her.

Oh. My. Gracious. I was in love. I promptly downloaded it, slapped the existing title on it, and sent it to Suzie to see if I was just insane or if this was It. She assured me I wasn't crazy, LOL, that this would be a GORGEOUS cover.

So I emailed the artist from Deviant Art and prayed, prayed, prayed she would answer and let us use her gorgeous work. And in the meantime, did a bit of research, learning that any photograph taken before 1924 is considered public domain, so yes, we're okay with using one of Lily.

Well much to our delight, the artist, Alena Dufkova, was happy to let us use her colorization, and agreed to do more for us for the later books in the series! Yay!

My work on this one was really easy. I zoomed the photo so that the book cover will cut off the upper part of her hair, a bit of her side, and leave me some space for the title. Then I selected the background and flipping it around so that the space behind Lily/Clara on our cover wouldn't be so empty.

In this photo, you're also seeing the 2 small tweaks we needed to make to make Lily into Clara--hair needed to be auburn, and eyes green. This is an easy fix. For the hair, I select it with my Quick Select tool

Then I adjust the color balance of the selection, edging it more toward red.
A subtle change, but all that we needed. =) I just went in with the paintbrush to get her eyes green, and then it was time for the font treatment.

I liked the fonts we used on the first comp of the cover, so I did that again, using The Alistaren Beta font from This time I added a gradient overlay to "Fair" and "Remember." I chose a frame, made the frame white, and filled it with a complementary color, faded to 70% opacity.
Instead of the series name saying "Book 1," I decided we'd put the year--that way anyone who wanted to read them in chronological order could, but no one would look at it and say "Gee, I can't read this one, it's book 2..."

Adding Suzie's name to the bottom, we get a "Voila!"


  1. Wow ... that's a lovely cover! Good job!

    1. Thanks, Elisabeth! I feel like I can't take much credit for this one--it's all resting on the gorgeous colorization. =) But hey, I had the good sense to get it, LOL. ;-)

    2. My comment went away - I am late for work! I'll come back at my break time!

    3. My comment went away - I am late for work! I'll come back at my break time!

  2. Roseanna, you are so amazingly talented. I love seeing a glimpse into your creative process. Thank you, and thank you for the glorious cover!

    I still love the pink cover, too. I need to write a book just for that cover. Lol! Don't ever delete it, and please don't give it to someone else!

    I'm not sure why the other posted twice. Please ignore! ;)

  3. Absolutely gorgeous! I'd pick this up in a heartbeat...wait, I think I will. :)

  4. I think this is your best one ever, Roseanna! All of your covers are gorgeous ... but there is something special about this one. Great job!

  5. Just beautiful - LOVE these posts!

  6. Oh my goodness!! Just beautiful and it stands out in a good way! I can't wait to read them, too. :)