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I'm afraid your image just isn't very well set up to be a cover. You don't have enough space for your tittle right now, it looks all cramped up in the corner. Perhaps push santa to the side a little Or lower it to make some text space above his head? I'd fiddle a couple of thumbnails to see what works best if I were you. If this is a serious thing and you want to get it to prints, you should probably balance out the font to (make sure the spaces between letters are regular).
Last edited by freiheit; August 14th, 2012 at 12:09 AM.
yeah, it's just a mock up I posted. The font needs to be played with a little bit. It's a limited edition, signed and numbered chapbook, only 300 in total, and will not be sold out at stores where it needs to grab an audience from far away. That being said, I'm thinking about making the font smaller, so it clears Santa's face.
Is there really reason to spend so much space just on the face of the guy? All other parts feel bit awkward when you have to cram in the hand in a position in which I have no idea what sub-space locker his elbow and other stuff is disappearing to. I can't tell what the red thing is aside part of a skull, like is it a flattened skull or something...? Or a real corpse?
There's kinda little Christmas going on too, as I have to admit I first thought this was a zombie Charles Darwin, only the title hinted me that it was supposed to be Santa. Which again might not work well on make people interested of the cover by the idea of the cover alone.
Did you do preliminary thumbs of the composition, with the title? It just feels that this is something you constantly repeat in your covers, the title looks like an afterthought to an illustration, and not something that's actually designed to work as a cover from the start.
Well, I'm not going to go back and forth on the virtues of the cover. This post was about the lettering on the cover, not the cover itself. I left space open on the upper right to include the text. Like I said, it is not a in stores, mass market book. It is a limited edition (300 printed) signed and numbered chapbook. The people who will buy it, are already horror fans, and many are fans of mine as well. I simply wanted space to label it with a title and my name. I'm going over fonts, and trying to decide on a size, color, and style.
Last edited by Dan Henk; August 14th, 2012 at 01:07 PM.
Instead of manning the rationalisations stations why not just listen to advice and make it actually good? its always the same conversation in these threads.
everyone says its not working and explains why, but you refuse to listen.
It suffers from the same exact problems as this and this
which we already tried to sort out for you here
the image is damn cool but just doesnt suit being used as a cover as is. the font for your name is the same terrible script one from before. the placement of the title is cramped. the placement of the title is cramped.
Heres the cover from the first edition of A Christmas Carol, why not do something cool like that, with spot UV ink and stuff? that's what a proper graphic designer wil be able to tell you. I got the impression the last time the guy you hired was useless, certainly based on the shit work he seemed to keep giving you. if he wasn't giving you these options he was.
Heres tonnes of well designed covers turned up by a 3 second google search. They all have two things in common. The image suits being used as a cover, and the text is well placed, readable and doesn't obscure the image.
90 Beautiful Book Cover Design in Different Styles
maybe just use a frame?
Last edited by Velocity Kendall; August 14th, 2012 at 07:08 PM.
So because it's for your fans, it's okay if the cover is half-assed in composition? Sorry but that's just what it's coming off as. I mean honestly this wouldn't had taken much time to work out right on the beginning stage. But I'd also mention that considering your art style and all, have you considered actually drawing the title by yourself and making it kinda part of the picture? I think it might fit very nicely and give a bit more organic and informal feel to it and it'd look lot less like a pasted on, sterile looking font.
EDIT: Oh sweet jesus why do you have that awful choppy and shrill audio in your website?!
"have you considered actually drawing the title by yourself and making it kinda part of the picture?"
thats a good idea, making the cover a really special piece of art.
in the painting, what is he eating? its the size of a childs skull, but looks like its somehow cubic. like a meat texture applied to a cubic box. it looks strange.
This really isn't about the painting, but I'll say this-
If you read the story, alot more makes sense. Santa is huge. The modern version of Santa commonly used is the one Norman Rockwell made up for the New York Post, there is not even a "definitive" version of Santa. I looked at a bunch of reference for the gory remains of the victim, A cleanly polished slightly glazed skull is more for the movies. Skin flaps and chunks of gore make it fare less clean and easily readable in real life. Santa is the only thing in focus, the rest is a bit blurry intentionally to heighten the contrast. That's not a trick I invented, you can see that in Italian paintings from centuries ago.
I'm not a fancy script guy, but I have a friend who is, and he is doing a rendition of the title and my name. That was the best conclusion I finally came too.
As far as a "half assed job of composition", that is exactly why I am posting it here, so I don't do that. It hasn't gone to the publisher yet. Different books have different criteria, and I am bringing those up. Since it is a limited edition, already has a fanbase, and that base will be looking more for the art and theme that a title and author that they already know they want, I was thinking of making the title smaller than normal, and more as a tag on the cover, than the selling point.
Yes, I have listened to past suggestions. I actually crafted this cover with space on the right just to put that tag. I am doing a new cover for the hardcover release of my book, and based largely on suggestions here, I will be creating a large, open space near the top of the illustration for the title.
I will say, Velocity Kendall's suggestion of a black bar on the bottom wasn't something I thought about, but is a good idea.
I have to say I do really like the painting, especially santas face.
i think the lighting on the skull isnt quite consistent with the scene so it looks a funny shape. doesnt hurt the image too much tho.
this still looks tut, its just an example of formatting it a bit more. you tend to take a mashup of the crits and use them for the final product (mine for the space one and JavierPs for the tits one) Dont. i would get a proper graphic designer, an actual one who does lots of book covers, not just some mate you know, pay him properly and leave him alone, he will know better than you what works.
you will see the return when people are atracted to your book by its cover, not repelled. and i dont just mean for this limited for-the-fans-so-who-cares edition, for all the books.
Last edited by Velocity Kendall; August 14th, 2012 at 09:20 PM.
Hey, if Frank Frazetta can play a little loose with some of the lighting to high light faces, I figure who am I too argue! I'll darken up a little bit of the gory face tho, just to make it more readable. There are multiple light sources anyways, that window is too far away and too dark to light Santa's face that strongly.
That said, I do agree, for a mass market book cover, readability of the cover is very important. Not to mention an image that flows well with the text. I have done two kinds of book covers in the past, the kind where I give them an image, and the kind where I provide an image for my own work. The kind where I give them the image, they do often use bars of solid color, in some aspect, above and below. The "space scene" cover, I've actually gotten quite alot of positive feedback on. People love how retro it looks. That said, I will be working with a different graphic designer for the re-release of the book. The other guy story boards for a living, he's not a big book designer. He was a friend who took it on, but the feedback I've gotten on here makes alot of sense. Lettering, especially book and magazine covers, both of which I've done, is not my strong suit. I'll get help designing the next one, but I'm working with that small publisher budget, which is way different that, say, that Penguin books budget.
Last edited by Dan Henk; August 14th, 2012 at 11:53 PM.
Well, that sounds like a good plan. Hope it turns out well.
As for the skull, this was what i meant earlier but didnt explain very well
Yeah, I have the neck stiffly crooked, to accentuate the unnatural posture. IE, he's dead and brutalized. The right eye has a flap of skin over it. I wanted the whole thing a bit out of focus, so you realized it was a gory face, but your eye went to the Santa. I do think it could use a little more darkness towards the area that don't catch the light, I'll post up an altered version when it's done.
its also tiny, like a baby skull, compared to santas
someone had been a bad boy...
Alright, been away at a horror convention selling art all weekend, but I finally got a chance to revise this.
I have a better photo too, so the colors are a little more correct, and the details a little sharper.
As compared to what? In the story, Santa isn't even human. He's this big, ancient creature that goes off the deep end. That said. I looked at a lot of old men when I was coming up with the image. Human proportions vary wildly.
Well, again you can tell that as many times you want, but it's not really visible from the actual image.
If you're fine with that (this being just for fans who will buy this anyway), okay, but it still is an issue if you consider this as a stand-alone illustration. The pic doesn't show that the Santa's big, it just looks like everything else is too small, which ends up looking like a mistake. Same I would argue goes for the "ancient creature" part, though that can be a lot more ambiguous.
When I am contracted to do an illustration for something in print, the publisher asks me to read the story, pick a scene from it I wish to illustrate, and go from there. He does not tell me "oh, but people are going to look at your illustration without written reference, so make sure it's an image that everyone will immediately identify with".
The cover looks intriguing, you buy it. It doesn't, you don't. If Santa is a big, ancient creature in it, I'm not going to make him look more like the Norman Rockwell version, just so people will go "oh, that's the Santa I know".
I posted to ask opinions on the titling, and you're arguing with me on the size of Santa, as you envision him. That is not even the point. Velocity Kendall was a big help, just like he was on my last book cover. You are going off on an inconsequential tangent. And, like I already said, kids die in this as well. That could easily be a child skull to some random viewer.
JEEZ, I'm not saying you should make him look like the Norman Rockwell version, I'm just saying that if the Santa is big, it wouldn't hurt you to actually make the Santa big so that he's actually big in terms of the room, not just paste a small background behind him. Just saying that when I can be sure what's going on in terms of the image (which doesn't mean everything should be clear and bright as day btw) it's likely to be more intriguing by the concept of the image (huge monster Santa) and not just because it has a weird cover. Showing a huge monster Santa is, to me, more intriguing as a cover than a cramped Santa with questionably scaled background.If Santa is a big, ancient creature in it, I'm not going to make him look more like the Norman Rockwell version, just so people will go "oh, that's the Santa I know".
Because even when you explain the context and concept, I do not see that in your image so the "choose a spot and illustrate it" doesn't really work either in this to me. Figuring out something is a kid's skull shouldn't require written context.
But no, instead of actually showing the concept I hear a lot of "well maybe some random viewer sees this right".
Yes, the actual illustration of the cover is totally inconsequential to the whole thing.You are going off on an inconsequential tangent.
Sorry, if you want just some specific advice on the title alone, maybe you should hire a professional of the field and pay them to only give the advice you want.
Seriously, it's always this:
No, it's not. I have thanked people and changed my way of approaching something multiple times when I think the advice is appropriate. But this is a "hear everything, and take what you need" forum. If your advice is inappropriate, I will bring it up so we can move on to something else.
I am not stuck on being right, I am stuck on getting what is best for the piece of art. In the previous thread, which you were not a part of, but somehow feel the surliness to bring up, I dramatically changed my cover due to the advice. It came up again, and I changed not only the cover text, but the cover painting as well. I posted a regular comic strip for I do for TAM, and based on the advice, I radically changed my approach. With this illustration, I have also changed my mind on what to do with the cover. That is why I post on here.
Apparently you just want to argue technical details of the cover painting. I am applying all the perspective, light and shade, cool and warm tones, and other things I learned in my northern Virginia art school towards this piece. The chapbook will be printed smaller than the posted picture, and text will cover some of the page. At the distance most people will see it, at the 20+ conventions I attend a year, the Santa is the crucial element. If I made him smaller, delineating more of his body, and firmly anchoring him in a background, the Santa would be unreadable at a distance. I was more interested in detailing and texturing the corpse and Santa's face. If you would do it differently, have at it with your own illustrations. If I could afford to hire big shots in design, I would, but I am working on small publisher budgets here.
And while you're at it, take a look at the work of people like Basil Gogos, Mike Kaluta, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Donato Giancola. You know, people who actually do book covers, and don't put every element of the main character in the frame.
Last edited by Dan Henk; August 21st, 2012 at 02:42 PM.
Alright, as promised, here's the chapbook cover. Yes, I used brush script for my name. Plenty of the pulp authors used it back in the 30s and 40s, it might be overused now, but it reminds me of those books growing up, and I liked it best out of everything I tried.
The top was done by my friend Joey Ortega.