Author, Cover Design, Editing, Indie Author, Self Publishing, Writing

Cover Design – Rebooting Short Change

SC Cover v6When 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.

SC Stock Color BaseI 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.

SC Stock v2So, 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.

SC Stock v5One 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.

SC Stock v7Two 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.

SC Stock v10

SC Stock v10

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.

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