Friday, June 18, 2010

Playing Around With Book Covers

If you've been following me, you know I'm an artist as well as a writer. I'd never given much thought to doing book covers, though, because my favored medium for art is charcoal. I like pencil drawing as well. But neither of those involves color, and we all like color on our book covers.

So, several months ago when the owner of Splashdown Books put out a call for artists because she needed an illustration of a key for a book cover, I passed it by. But, several days later, I needed to email her about something else entirely and mentioned that I'd given thought to trying the key but that I only do black and white drawings. She surprised me by writing back that B&W would be fine.

I drew the key.

She bought the drawing. And it's now an integral part of a book Splashdown will be releasing on July 1st--The Duke's Handmaid, by Caprice Hokstad.

A few weeks later, I got another email, regarding another cover for a Splashdown title. This time, a graphic novel type drawing for a superhero spoof. No worries about color again because she only needed the outline drawing and would be colorizing it with her photo editing program. So, September first, look for my drawing of Dave, aka Powerhouse, on the cover of Tales of the Dim Knight by Adam and Andrea Graham. I don't have an official cover image to show you yet, as the publisher is still finishing the details.

All of this got me to thinking about my own book, and the cover art I'd like to see on it. I've not landed a publishing contract quite yet--although interest has been expressed--that's all I can say right now--but if I go with a small press I'll have real say in the cover art. Maybe not complete control, but definitely input. And as an artist myself, I thought it'd be cool to try something that could potentially land MY drawing on MY cover.

Here's the first result:

The locket and link it's hanging on are all drawn by me. The upside-down beetle is my original design. I blacked out the background of the scanned image, and uploaded it into a program that is actually designed for making greeting cards and some other things, but it's got features I don't have in my other photo editing software.

What do you think? Be honest!

I'm going to work on more mock-ups. I'm not sure this one conveys the right "feel" for Finding Angel. But it's been fun playing around.


Hannah Nicole said...

I like it! It has a very intriguing look to it!

Unknown said...

Kat, you definitely have talent in the artist field. I really like that key you drew.

As far as the upside down beetle, I think it looks okay - to be completely honest, I couldn't tell it was a beetle until you told me. I think I saw Finding Angel as the title and thought I was looking at an angel on the locket. I assume the beetle has something to do with what is in the book.

You're doing a great job! I figured out on my own how to do some cover design. I am by no means perfect, but I have a great appreciation for those who do it as a living. It takes time and hard work! :D

Kat Heckenbach said...

Thanks, Hannah!

And, David, I understand your point. I was sharing this with a friend/critique partner and we were debating about whether the beetle would make sense to anyone who hasn't read the book. It's something we're fond of, but that may be because we understand its significance.

This is only the first attempt. I've got other ideas formulating :).

The funny thing is, now I can see the value of having someone else do the cover art--someone who's not so close to the story.

Grace Bridges said...

Remind me, does the beetle have to be upside down? It might be clearer if it wasn't.

Kat Heckenbach said...

Kinda, sorta. If ya go to my site and read the first the end of the chapter...well, it makes more sense with him upside-down.

Brandon Barr said...

Hey Kat,
I think your cover looks good. However, the locket with the beetle, the wood on either side (representing a door?), and the title, "finding Angel" leaves me uncertain about what the story is about.

I'm sure you'll strike on something perfect for your story :)

Jeff Chapman said...

I don't think you can really convey a story, particularly a novel, with a single picture. Plus you have to include the title and author's name on the cover so it's easy for the cover to become cluttered. So what should a cover do? It needs to stick out on a shelf, be striking and memorable. I like the heart with the upside down beetle. The heart acts as an arrow that pulls your eyes toward the title. The beetle's orientation reinforces that movement. As I'm sure you know, movement in a picture is a good thing. We don't usually associate hearts and beetles so people might at least pick up the book to see if they're seeing what they think they're seeing.

Kat Heckenbach said...

Thanks, Jeff. Boy, that comment makes me feel better. I do want my cover to convey something about the story, but I agree that it can't be more than a single idea. The elements in this design are significant, and if they aren't something easily recognized...well, they're not supposed to be. I don't want to just throw a dragon on the front because it's a fantasy.

I've done a little more work on the cover, and come up with something I like even better--but it still uses the beetle locket and wood. It's just more eye-catching.

Thanks so much, Jeff!!!