Back to the green-cover thing: All colors carry certain emotions, and we experience the emotions at a profound level. To me, at least, green has two meanings:
1) The color of healthy nature. The first of the covers that KatG posted, above, has a forest-cum-elf-huntress look to it, therefore the cover is quite fetching, at least to those who go in for that sort of fantasy. As I mentioned in my previous post, I find the cover compelling.
2) The pallor of illness, even death. Almost the polar opposite of #1, a greenish tinge to an otherwise-beautiful face might, at a subconscious level, dissuade us from wanting to move too close, just as we avoid the proximity of coughing and sneezing passengers on the train.
These are opinions of course, and I have no figures to back them up. I would, however, trust the figures that have been compiled by market researchers... then I would make up my own mind regarding when they apply and when they do not. When I was working on the cover of S.T., I tried again and again to give a greenish shade to the photo of the cover model. In every rendition (out of about a dozen), she looked sick, so I moved on.
(As a tangential thought, there is solid research to suggest that in the world of athletics, red-uniformed teams win more games than those wearing other colors. What is the psychology at work here? Does the blood color spur us to superior effort? Or is it simply that red is so easy to see that one is more aware of one's teammates?)
That sounds like a fun challenge Window! I understand you're probably through with the project, but I'd like to see if I could try to render your cover with green whilst still retaining a type of liveliness to it.
Just for practice of course: Could you send me the materials?
The rumor that was presented was not that artists find it hard to use green. It was that publishers hate green, have banished it and artists have to sneak it in to not upset the publishers. Which is not correct. I've never heard in over twenty years in the business the saying that "green covers don't sell." If I had to guess, I'd suspect that it comes from the comics industry, not book publishing and that it is a really, really old saying that has long been discarded. Green is a very popular color in non-fiction covers, especially obviously the environmental books. In fiction, green shows up frequently. It is popular for horror -- because of that biliousness of certain shades of green. It's very good for light or fog effect, in part because it's not as luminous as non-dark blues and spookier because we associate it with mold and moss. It's popular in fantasy covers because they are often doing trees. Do the greens come in different underlying tints of red, blue, yellow primary colors? Since green is made up of blue and yellow, I would assume so. Green jewels pop up along with red and blue ones on covers. Green tints on the darker side are sometimes used for shadows, though purple is obviously better.
But the point was, green has not been banned from book covers by publishers nor must be carefully hidden therefore. That's a whole different kettle of fish from saying that green is a tricky color to use so if you're trying to make a simple book cover, you might want to go with more primary shades, etc. My objection was to the statement about the publishing industry, not the artistic value of green.
As for making book covers, obviously having a professional artist do one is going to be better. (Although I have been involved in some battles for authors over horrendous covers designed by book art departments and artists over the years.) But a professional artist is expensive. Not outrageously so for the work, but nonetheless, a sizable cost for a good one, even if it's graphic art with models or photos rather than a painting. And most of the people who are self-pubbing, putting an e-book for sale on Amazon and a few sites, can't afford it. They can't even afford to hire an art student who might do it cheaper. The pimply teenagers are doing some rather amazing things with art, so if you've got one who can come up with something, it therefore may be better than trying to do it yourself. And if you really feel at a loss, there are thousands of book covers that have no actual art. You could just do colors and fonts, or get a stock, public domain photo/image of a sword or something and stick it in with a good background color and fonts again. That can still be a good cover. Although virangelus recommends not using green, apparently.
Some more famous cover greens (and Virangelus will tell us the tints!):
Wait, I got that one! It's yellow! And a green cover for a bestselling novel that's been in print for thirty years.
I see red! And a green cover for a bestselling novel in a bestselling series.
So green is not banned from book covers, but may if you are doing one yourself, turn on you viciously, like a lizard. We all got that? Good. Now listen to all the interesting things virangelus has to say about graphic arts.
Note: Wow, your warning in the other thread made me think this was going to be worse. Maybe you went easy on me :P ?
Anyhow: I LOVE Graphic Arts (thus I have a degree in it). Ask Virangelus about colors ANYTIME. Because I'm so obsessive with color (that's right, obsessive) I'm going to present a mini-lesson here.
For the purposes of further illustrating my example of "smuggling the reds," I will be including the RGB codes to the greens as featured on "Moonheart." This is not really a best-recommended practice for measuring color, but it should work for our purposes here. First though, think back to the last time you picked up a gallon of paint at the hardware store. Did you watch the machine put the color in? I picked up would be "moss green" once (ironically enough) and the machine was squirting tan, yellow, red, and other bizarre colors into this would be "green" drum that sure enough, came out green somehow.
There are tints in these greens. There is a lot of yellow and lime than true green, which if we check against the AMAZING James Gurney, DING DING DING - is a winner on eye sensitivity, and yellow-green in fact is one of colors we are most sensitive to (though color fans, keep in mind, too much yellow irritates people, badly , they have science showing yellow kitchens induce arguments, evidently). The other cover, Throne of Jade, has a LOT of green but you can see that the background has quite a bit of yellow in it.
Green works REALLY well when you add a fluorescent color to it. Especially in airbrushing, fellow artists. I can't tell you how handy fluorescent orange has sneaked up in my work, alongside Cyan, which is in MANY more things than I ever thought possible.
Now here is where I suppose the game of telephone comes in.
"Smuggling the Reds." That concept may be where things got confusing. You have to smuggle red hues, or at the least yellow hues, INTO the color pigments just as the two fine covers you presented did. They are NOT pure, raw, undeniably green. Now perhaps where I should have been more clear myself is that when I said you have to "sneak the greens in" etc, and "sneak the reds in," I always make the mistake that I'm talking to fellow Creative Media personnel and that's just me being a bonehead. I can now easily see where that could have been misinterpreted.
So my bad.
Send me more covers, send me YOUR covers. I'll break it down :)
Oh, and FYI KatG: Some of my favorite covers do not feature graphics at all! Neil Stephenson's "Reamde" has to be one of my all-time favorites! So clever! (Though artist: keep in mind, he can afford to have a giant name on his cover, kay? He's Neil Stephenson. Use your name with care. Heck, use your giant fonts with care).
How about The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams? There is a post of the cover from Loerwyn on page 35 of the Positivity Cover Art Thread in the Fantasy/Horror forum.
Originally Posted by virangelus
Also, will you just break down green covers or are there other colors that are similar which you could break down for us, just for comparisons sake?
EDIT: there is also A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham which is a green cover.
Sorry, not posting an actual picture of the covers as I don't have them.
What a fascinating conversation!
I dabble in graphic design, but have not gotten to the point of immersion in color theory... I hope you will continue to share your thoughts!
(The one graphic design rule I've picked up is 'avoid Papyrus'.)
Wow - Vir. You are awesome. (And hired, I'll PM you this weekend.)
And thanks Lear and B5 for your feedback on my cover. I'll keep that all in mind for the next one. :)
I cannot read the tiny print, but I'm sure that it is lovely. If I might make a suggestion, since we've rather derailed Kerry's thread, people making their own covers use red and black a lot. Talk about those maybe.
official permission given
Originally Posted by KatG
A bit late at the party, but I enjoyed the whole thread and I'm looking forward to more Viranalysis.
About bad cover, for me a dead giveaway is the choice and use of the fonts. Typically, if you get rid of the text and your cover looks better, you are doing something wrong. I checked out Wings website, and together with the covers hacked together as in Kerry's example, they have some nice ones, with professional looking drawings (I'm looking at the ones in the middle row of the main page). Except for the fonts. The use of the text is invariably terrible, and screams amateurish.
Just having a real designer fix their text would go a long way...
Here are my two contributions to the Green Discussion: a book and a short story on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I tried to create a cover which would complement the title. Also all of the Shapechanger Tales covers have a similar design to increase recognition of them as going together.
The background images are digital photos I took in Ireland when I spent two weeks there and a week in London double-checking research I'd done on locations in several of my books.
The "ghost" or "demon" in the short story cover is actually a NASA image of the south polar icecap, stretched vertically.
When I begin putting up my YA books I'll want a similar commonality among all of them. Here's an image I'll use to as inspiration for those covers. Notice the red and pink color palette.
If you're a do-it-yourselfer it's a good idea to use software that lets you be very flexible. I chose to spend $70 for Photoshop Express, the consumer version of the professional Photoshop CSS which costs hundreds or even thousands of dollars (depending on the specific version).
A big consideration was the documentation. Since PsE is sold in the many thousands, there are several dozen texts for it. Many of them are in public libraries. Much of them are written very clearly and organized so you can find just what you want without reading the entire manual. I purchased two for $45 total so I could have them all the time, and could highlight sections and tape post-it notes on pages I'd need to consult often.
If you get a free software package which does the important parts of PsE make sure the manuals are also very clear. There're few things more worse than owning an Indy500 racer and not even knowing how to start the engine! In my case, when my photo of a place in Ireland turned out to have a sky that was too light it took just a few minutes to find how to fix it, step by step and with clear screenshots.
That was the case in the photo above for "Sea Monster's Revenge." I created a "neutral density filter" layer which overlay the bayside photo and gradually darkened the sky from about mid-photo.
Layers are an essential feature of any Photoshop-type software. In "Revenge" I had separate layers for the title, subtitle, and author text. This meant I could slide them around the cover independently of each other and quickly position them. I could also change fonts, font sizes, and font colors independently and see instantly if I liked the result.
I also had layers for the figure, the background, and the filter. And finally a second filter layer for my were-seamonster's feet so my author byline would stand out from the water in which she is standing.
If that sounds like a lot of work, it was, though not as much as you might think. A talented art student with solid commercial courses behind her could have done the same. But it would cost. Worse, you might have to consult her a dozen or two times to get what suited your cover, with delays between each. And if a year down the line I needed to make cover changes I could do so because I own the photoshop files and software and know how to make the changes.
If you self publish, you need Photoshop Elements, Microsoft Office (with Word of course, but Ecel makes a great tool for the business end), and Quark Xpress to work with printers. Also, a full version of Adobe Acrobat to turn any type of image, scanned image, or document into a pdf or ebook is advisable.
Quark will make your manuscript and book contents "camera ready" with crop marks and in a native format all printers use.
Or you can use GIMP, LibreOffice, and Scribus for it, which are all free. :)
Originally Posted by Modern Day Myth
You are ever the gentlemen, V.
Originally Posted by virangelus
The cover was prepared three years ago, and the components, though probably still in existence, are alive in file archives that would take some time to dig through. Also, after deciding that a greenish skin (at least as my unpracticed hand could render it) served my cover poorly, I changed the wording within the book so that the green tone is no longer relevant.
I therefore decline your kind offer, but not out of negativity I simply don't care to put either you or me through our paces in an unproductive fashion.
That much said, I'll certainly peruse your work, and I may call on you in the future.
Thanks, and take care -- WB