When I made the original cover for Short Change, I never intended to use it as a placeholder. I meant it to be final…more or less. Heck, I put a lot of time into it, but over time and as the series and ideas progressed, I came to realize that the OG cover wasn’t quite capturing the spirit of the series. It wasn’t until being almost finished with the second in the series that I knew it for a fact.
Now I, and many other indie authors as well, realize that no cover is going to be just the way I want it, but there’s a stark contrast between a cover that is ‘off’ and a cover that is ‘far off’ and I’d rather have the former than the latter if I could help it. My skills and assets may be limited, but this was the moment to push for something I really wanted.
The inspiration for the Resonance Saga was old school comic books and two bit super heroes, so I did some heavy research into comic book style rendering. To what extent could I take a picture and make it look like something out of a comic book?
Turned out, there were a good deal of tutorials online that not only worked with Photoshop, but also other dime store paint programs as well. Like most of my covers, I did the work for this one in paint.net.
I knew I had to have a model for this piece, but finding a good model with free assets was a daunting task. Still, I had downloaded so many from the months back, that I managed to find a good looking piece. In fact, the male model had all the right elements. He looked young and he was wearing long jeans and he carried a backpack. Something in the back of my mind clicked and I told myself that I had to use this one.
So, first, I removed all of the debris around the character. Normally, I’d recommend against this, but I wasn’t going to be planting him into another realistic scene and that background definitely wasn’t working.
After removing the simple house background, I converted the image to a pencil sketch through a nifty layer process and changed the smooth gradients of the original colored image to something more cell shaded. Smashed them together and we got an inked cartoon figure. Overlay a newsprint layer on top and it was as if he came straight from a comic book.
One more thing, I turned the blues in his shirt and jeans to browns. Seemed like a good fit because of the color of the title text. Speaking of which, I added the title text by the model’s feet and stamped my author name to the backpack. Seemed like it fit it fairly well, so I went with it.
Two steps left. Next, I decided to fit in the coin motif. I strategically spared some space on the side of the cover that didn’t seem to be doing much, so I placed three coins over there. A French Franc, a Yen and a Penny. In the original cover, I couldn’t make any more than one coin work, but since I was starting over from scratch, I figured I’d give it another shot and I think they worked well for this piece.
It was still missing something, though. Last step. It needed something that really spoke comic book. What were comic books comprised of? Panels, I thought! So, I rendered a white panel border with black outlines around the original image, then re-sized it back to 6 x 9 and this final image was what I created.
Granted, there are still some aspects that may need resolving. I can think of a few off the top of my head, so for the moment, this isn’t the official cover of Short Change, but I do intend to fine tune this piece into a finished cover over the next few weeks…in between writing Steel Soldier. If all goes well, I’ll use this knowledge to manufacture the cover for the second book too.