2020 Releases

The Rock Star's Familiar
The Vampire's Familiar
The Witch's Familiar
Phantasia: Bad Day On Olympus
Ice Cave
Destiny, Desire & Murder
Close to the Truth

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Magic Thursday: The Nuts & Bolts of Designing a Book Cover! (Part 2: Analysing Comprehensive Scene images)

by Helzkat Designs (aka Eleni Konstantine)

This is my third blog post on the topic of cover design.

In the post, You can't judge a book by its cover, right? Umm, Wrong,  I discussed familiarising oneself with what the market - aka your genre - is doing with covers. While you don’t want to mimic it exactly, it gives you a good idea of reader expectation.

The second post, Magic Thursday: The Nuts & Bolts of Designing a Book Cover! (Part 1: Finding Images), I discussed royalty-free stock images and how to search for images for a short story collection.

Today, we're going to analyse images that were added to a Favourites folder for this project. 

Now, in all honesty I haven't progressed with compiling and writing for this short story collection since that last blog post - between family health and renovations, life has been pretty busy. But plans are afoot to move the project forward and working on the cover will surely inspire me.

Looking at the Favourites Folder

I have 542 images saved into the folder named 'Short Story Collection - Enchanted Dreams'.  They are spread over three pages. 

Once again, I look in the first instance for images that are comprehensive scenes that I don’t have to manipulate too much, but there may be part of an image that I like, or I like the concept of an image but not necessarily that image itself. 

I need to keep in mind that the short story collection contains stories which will all be speculative fiction stories. The keyword for the stories is 'Enchanted' as I think it captures the awe of the fantastical - and doesn’t only refer to magic but to generally being enchanted with a story. 

Now you may not choose the same images as I do when you look at the Favourites Folder. That's fine, we are all different in our tastes. But the cover must comply with reader expectation and that means reflecting the content of the book.

So I want something to reflect fantasy, enchantment, mystical, fairy tales, supernatural, paranormal, dreams, and magical realism. The audience is adult. 

I could select an image that would be perfect for one of the stories but then I would have to change the title of the collection to the story's title. For example, 'Angel Eyes and other stories'.  But I want to reflect the collection as a whole, so with that in mind, I'll go through the images and analyse.

Comprehensive scene images analysed

For today's post, I'll be concentrating on the comprehensive scenes.

The more I look at the images, the more I'm drawn to the ones that are more abstract, surreal, or have a dreamlike aspect. 

I choose images that would have room to add text or that it can be manipulated so that the text will not get lost in the image.  I also think about how the image would be cropped (or not) depending on orientation. Some may need more added to in the final design but most of those I consider comprehensive could stand on their own.

I also keep in mind how the image would look as a thumbnail (for book sites) and how it would look at a larger scale as well. Some images that look good at thumbnail may not be exactly the look you want when you view it at a larger scale, or vice versa. 

Normally I would download the Comp version so I play around with the images and do a process of elimination before I have to actually purchase the image(s). In this situation the images that will appear in the blog and will at a later date be used in the mock ups of covers, have all been purchased. 

Let's look at some of the images and talk about why I like them, and why I chose them for the short list or not.  If I find the decisions I make last longer than a day or two, then you know that you're listening to your head (and the selection criteria) and not your love for a particular artwork for it's own sake. 

How amazing is this artwork! I love it but on closer inspection the figure is despondent. This is an example of loving the artwork and wanting it to fit. But it doesn't. 
Verdict = not shortlisted. 

Straight away I think of dreams when I look at this image and enchanted ones at that with the moon and abstract forest setting. I think though it gives more of a fairy tale look than I want, though. 
Verdict = not shortlisted. 

The beauty of the night sky with the moon and fluffy clouds glowing brightly is enticing. The silhouette of the hot air balloon also gives a sense of adventure. I love the colours. Of course being a landscape this will be cropped but that is exactly the part of the image I'm drawn to. 
Verdict = shortlisted. 

I was drawn to this one straight away. The vibrancy of the colours, the abstractness of the design indicating otherworldliness and a dreamlike quality. I love the blue eye colour as well. Most of the stories are from a female perspective so this suits. 
Verdict = shortlisted.

The dream aspect of flying and being carefree attracted me to this image. But having a young female would give the reader the expectation that the stories are aimed at the YA market. 
Verdict = not shortlisted. 

I love the colours, the silhouette and the call to adventure this evokes. While this works all on it's own, if I add a moon or some object in the sky, it would also look spectacular.  
Verdict = shortlisted.

Birds flying free as you can in your dreams. The blue, green, yellow scheme with the silhouette is enticing and ethereal. This would have to cropped and I think that would work. 
Verdict = shortlisted.

 Love the surreal scene. Who doesn't love pink elephants? What could be more enchanting and dreamlike than this scene. Every time, I think I shouldn't pick this one because it may seem too light and fluffy, I keep on drawn to the fun, adventurous, and definitely fantastical tone of the image.  I think I could contrast the colours a bit more to work but is it a matter of loving the artwork more than it suiting the collection?  After some consideration, that is probably the case. 
Verdict = not shortlisted

Looking out into the dreamlike moon. Love the banner down the bottom. I'm not sure of the background colour but I could change that.
Verdict = shortlisted. 

Moon, clouds, stars, and a swing - enchanting aspect, fun, and has a sense of hope, which I have in the stories. It's a landscape scene and I'm not sure it will work as a portrait because of the spacing between the star shining down and the figure. This can be manipulated of course but it'll take some work.
Verdict = undecided. 

Another girl on the moon scene. Fluffy cloud, stars and a bright shining light. It's a feel good scene and who doesn't want to feel good? Again the landscape aspect has me wondering if it would work. 
Verdict = undecided. 

Going along the same theme with the swing and moon, but silhouette contrasts.  It speaks to me of dreams.  
Verdict = shortlisted

The colour scheme and night sky draw me to this one. With the lone tree in the foreground, it's quite enticing and there is a feeling of awe. 
Verdict = shortlisted. 

I just ADORE this one. There's a sense of hope to it despite the cliff and ravine. Unfortunately I've seen the image be used in a banner. Can I manipulate it enough to give it its own feel? Perhaps. 
Verdict = undecided. 

I keep coming back to this one. The muted greyness of the background contrasting with the yellow foreground. It gives me the impression of the a dreamlike quality where dreams can be both vivid and abstract. 
Verdict = shortlisted. 

I feel good when I look up on this image - there's the moon, the stars, clouds, and a ladder reaching up into the land above. It has a contrast between light and dark, and I like that since that's what life is like. I'm not sure how cropping would look with this one as it's a complete scene. 
Verdict = undecided. 

Who doesn't like a comfy place to sit and eat cake! Seriously, I like the colour scheme and the moon. Add some books on the ground (some others in the Folder were similar in scene but had books) and this would be a great place to spend the night away reading and eating.  But are toadstools too fairytale?
Verdict = undecided. 

Going on with the couch theme but this has an Alice in Wonderful motif with the love heart, cards, and the cheshire cat. I kept on being drawn back to this one but it has too much of another person's world.
Verdict = not shortlisted. 

A landscape scene which will need to be cropped but I love moon and the silhouette of the trees. There's something magical about it all. And the colours are lovely. It may need something else added to it though.
Verdict = shortlisted. 

I love the concept of the  doorway with the stars leading to it and the whole night sky. Unfortunately when this image is larger, it doesn't appeal as much.  Perhaps the items are too real looking even though it's an unreal scene. I've tended to go for more illustrated images. It's landscape (but that could be manipulated so the moon is closer). 
Verdict = not shortlisted.

Flying away on an adventure. It has a fantastical aspect and the fluffy cloud background gives it a dreamlike quality. What gives me pause if the reader is expecting Steampunk stories only. Perhaps a modern day balloon would be better? 
Verdict = not shortlisted.

The universe as a person is a cool concept. It has the ethereal feel to it as well as a sense of wonder and adventure. I'm just not sure about the young woman as much. 
Verdict = undecided. 

This is one I keep on coming back to as well. I love the concept. The scene is a little dark but that's okay and of course there would be less doors in a book cover. But the whole aspect of going into a door of bright light where you don't know what adventures wait for you is enticing.  
Verdict = shortlisted. 

At thumbnail, I thought this might make a good scene but on closer inspection the spiders and their webs doesn't suit. But that moon! Totally adore! 
Verdict = the moon is shortlisted. 

I love this concept but the figure on the moon is a man and as mentioned most of my stories are from a female perspective. Again, an example of not wanting the whole. 
Verdict = mostly shortlisted.

Next time and round up

This brings me to another aspect of selecting images. All the above have been comprehensive scenes that in most cases wouldn't need a lot of work to use. In a later post I will be analysing images that only have an aspect or two that could be used in the cover as is in the case with the last two images above. I usually do the two types of analysis at the same time but it would have been difficult to follow in a blog post.

So there we have it. Out of 25 images analysed here (of course more were considered and discarded), 10 were shortlisted, 2 were part-shortlisted, 7 were not shortlisted, and 6 were undecided. 

There are always some images you are just not sure of, and sometimes you need to see them mocked up before you can make a decision. Or it could be they only need to be partly used. 

I recently completed a customised cover and during the mock up stages of that I had a concept that I thought might work on the cover. It ended up that there wasn't enough room for it to look good so I let that concept go. But it wasn't until I saw it in mock form that I was able to view and discard. 

In a few days, I'll have a look at the images again and see if I concur with the above. 

At the end of the day, you have to make the best decisions to help the content inside reach its audience. Which brings me to the point that the collection hasn't been finalised yet. While I doubt there would be much of a change with the new stories that will be added, doing the covers when the content is finalised is best option. 

Oh and asking for opinions is not a bad thing to do as well. Especially with those who know your market. So...


Would any of the above attract you to read a short story speculative fiction collection?


HelzKat Designs (Helen Katsinis) specialises in designing for writers at affordable prices.

She delivers the right look for each project from book covers, banners, business cards, to setting up and customising blogs and websites. She has also given talks to authors on the subject of blogging and navigating in the online world.

She began by designing author banners for her writing persona (Eleni Konstantine) and her writing groups. After winning the 2010 Little Gems Cover Contest (Topaz), she started to specialise in designing for other writers thus combining her two worlds of design and writing.

In 2018, she's entered the world of pre-made covers. You can see available covers HERE

Get 50% off any pre-made cover until 30th April 2019 by using the code: DSDUblog.

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