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Thread: Cover Art and Computer Graphics
February 10th, 2005, 12:02 PM #16Originally Posted by Gary Wassner
Traditional art is alive and well, never fear. There will always be a place (and a need) for both traditional art and artisans. I have no art training whatsoever, but the computer tools allow me to express myself a bit without the need to learn the mechanics of holding a paint brush. The main advantage of using 3D, for me the untrained one, is that it gets past the problem of translating a 3D idea onto a 2D surface. Real artists spend a great deal of time thinking about perspective and how to get things to look right as they draw out their images; with 3D, that is much less of an issue. These things are actual 3D objects that I can move, and move myself around, placing them in realistic proportion to one another (or not, when needing to make a forced perspective). It provides a great deal of freedom in experimentation of what looks good, what doesn't, etc.
February 14th, 2005, 10:22 AM #17
You can do fine with figures and I think the ones you've shown here are great, but the covers you chose are perfect and interesting. Windstorm may be making their rep from covers alone. Certainly, this kind of artwork and styling is going to appeal to booksellers.
I don't think that an association with the gaming industry is necessarily problematic, and as Kevin showed, the style of art can vary considerably. Fantasy illustrators have long taken their work onto the computer and have made an industry out of creating screen savers, so it seems to me a natural marriage.
So when I get published, even if it's a big house, I'm coming to you two for the covers. There's ways to sweettalk them into it.
February 14th, 2005, 11:52 PM #18
I'd be more than happy to do cover art for you, KatG. And the good thing is, I'm probably real cheap!
I have to say that my current covers have garnered a lot of attention, so it does seem to be a reasonably successful style to follow. Certainly when it comes to using human figures I will be the first to admit it if what I eventually come up with is not successful enough to use on a cover (to me, it would have to really knock my socks off to risk going too far from the existing style that has worked). But seeing the potential of the program and the quality of what people can achieve with it, I think that with some work at it I might be able to make it all come together. Photo-realism is not the goal (although clearly some artists have managed to come close to that with this tool), but coming up with something striking that will capture people's interest is.
But going back to my original question (and not just the issue of computer art, with people or otherwise), I would still be curious for everyone's thoughts on the use of people on cover art, in whatever form (photographs, painting, computer, or whatever). Do you find that the imagery of the people, their clothes, etc. influences you unduly in your perceptions of what the words say? Does it lessen the impact of the author's descriptions? Have there been situations where what you read didn't match what the cover figures looked like? Or where the images didn't do justice to what you read? (Or vice-versa!)
February 18th, 2005, 12:41 PM #19
People and art are traditional for sf/f stories, not for most other types of fiction. I enjoy pictures of people on the covers and sf/f art, but don't require it. The people on the cover may influence my image of the characters, but then I'm also used to finding that the description of the character doesn't mesh with the picture on the cover. That doesn't bother me, I just rethink my image of the character based on the author's words, not the cover. For instance, I just finished a 1987 mystery novel, "Bimbos of the Death Sun" which deals with a murder at a sf/f convention. The main character is a professor author who is described as very young looking, with darkish brown hair, and is often mistaken for a grad student. The image of the professor on the cover was of a middle-aged man with wrinkles on his forehead, holding a pipe, and with light brown hair. Not quite a match. Ironically, the professor in the story had written a hard sf novel, which the publisher had titled "Bimbos of the Death Sun" and given a lurid cover with half-clad women. Ah those art departments, they run amok.
March 19th, 2005, 09:58 PM #20
Catching up here late, as usual. I am so impressed Kevin that you do your own covers. (I assumed you had an illustrator!) I looked up what you did on your website, and was even tempted myself... but you know, I not only have no talent, I have absolutely NO visual imagination.
As there are three editions of The Gift, I've had the chance to see what three different designers make of the same text, and for me it's been probably the most interesting thing about the book. People come up with stuff that I just couldn't even think of. You couldn't get three more different looking covers. Two are graphic - the UK and US editions - and one is a photographic montage, which to my mind doesn't work so well (no porn stars tho, phew!). The US one (which I posted on the other thread) actually portrays a character, it's a painting done in almost a photorealist manner, so it still has that graphic quality - kind of like Renaissance art, I think. Anyway, I don't mean to yabber on about me, but am getting to the point - given I like all the covers, for various different reasons, I think I like the covers _without_ human figures best (all very British, that kind of very graphic, slightly abstract design). And the reason why is because it lets the reader's imagination run free. That's why I think your covers work. So my advice is, leave the figures out of it...
March 21st, 2005, 12:21 AM #21
Thank you for your kind words.
Do you have some links where one can see all three of your covers (well, at least the other two, since as you say the third one is on my other thread around the corner...). I'd be curious too to see how the different intrepretations are. Did you get any input into any of them?
And on the question of this thread - as both a reader and as as writer, I agree with you 100%. As a person trying to sell books, it's a little trickier.
In the former case, I'd prefer to not see representations of the characters (either how they look or their cloting). In many cases it seems that the cover artist has a very different image than I do of what the author wrote. And for my own writing, even though I can make the cover images reflect exactly what I'm envisioning, to me much of the power of writing fiction is the ability of the reader to extend the writer's imagination. What people see in their own heads is much more vivid, I feel, than what I can describe. That is why I tend to be fairly spare in my descriptions, giving readers a descriptive skeleton and allowing their own imaginations to run with it. I've had readers come back and tell me how wonderfully detailed my descriptions were, and I know it was all just in their own minds.
But on the marketing front... In the U.S. market, at least, "populated" covers seem to be the norm. My own publisher says that, when they've reprinted some of their titles and changed the covers to have images of people instead of abstracts, their sales on those books shot up. And various marketing things I've read over the years always point to the fact that people (at least American people) seem to buy things with people on 'em... So there's this conflict between the desires of the writer and the marketer here...
I think what I will probably do is continue with the same style I have for my future Tonogato books, but if I write something different (and Windstorm elects to pick it up) I might try it with characters and see what happens.
One thing I'm doing is working on a sample book cover image, kind of another proof-of-concept to show that I think this program (and the other tools I'm using) can be used to come up with a workable cover. If it looks good enough when I'm done I'll stick it up here in this thread.
March 21st, 2005, 12:54 AM #22
Just for you, Rad, I put all the covers up in my forum (under the heading Book Covers, so you can't miss it).
Interesting what you say about the marketing attraction of human figures. I haven't really thought about it, but for me, the publishers all make clear that they are designing to attract what they perceive to be their market. Which I don't have an argument with. And they're polite about soliciting feedback and suggestions from me, and have sometimes even used them; but in the end we both know it's up to them. This doesn't bother me. (See my earlier remark about having no visual imagination...)
Thinking about it, the human figure thing must be an Australian/American thing. The UK has human figure covers of course, but they do go for the more abstract cover in a big way - offhand, there's Phillip Pulman's His Dark Materials, especially the hardbacks, which were gorgeously designed covers featuring objects from the books (they even had woodcuts for the beginning of each chapter). For the final book in the series, they didn't even put the name of the book on the cover! But I guess he was pretty famous by then.
March 31st, 2005, 04:34 AM #23
Ok, so it's been more than a week, but I had other things going on... like The Sands of Sabakushi coming out, and a convention!
Anyway, this wasn't the image I started with - that one still needs work. But I thought I'd toss this one up, since it only took a couple of hours to do. It's a faux cover, for a book that I have not written; but I wanted to experiment with things that might work on a cover. This, I think, is reasonably typical of the sort of thing found on American-market book covers. In this case the figure is reasonably small, compared to the rest of the image. Anyway, the other picture I'm working on is rather more elaborate, so we'll see what it looks like when I'm done.
April 19th, 2005, 11:16 PM #24
So here's another fake book cover, this one with a sci-fi theme. Still experimenting, just to see what can be done.
April 22nd, 2005, 08:45 PM #25
Hey Kevin - you know those books (didn't Stanislaw Lem do one? and Borges?) which are just collections of forwards or commentaries on imaginary books? You should do a picture book of covers of fictional books!
I rather like this one. All very Star Wars space opera, I thought. There's still that sense though of a video game feel with the figure; maybe it's something to do with the shading on the skin? A graphics expert would know more than me. Any chance of roughing it up somehow?
April 23rd, 2005, 02:14 PM #26
Kevin, seriously, have you thought about turning this into a business?
The sf one has a gamers sort of look, but for certain kind of stories, that would have strong appeal. The fantasy one is not a typical fantasy image, but is extremely eye-catching in part because of that. Either of these covers would work terrifically for novels, I think.
Now, do one that's a little more abstract, for a horror novel.
April 23rd, 2005, 07:08 PM #27
- Join Date
- Apr 2005
Last edited by northerain; May 11th, 2007 at 08:25 PM.
April 24th, 2005, 12:43 PM #28Originally Posted by alison
April 24th, 2005, 12:48 PM #29Originally Posted by KatG
Originally Posted by KatG
Originally Posted by KatG
April 24th, 2005, 02:57 PM #30
Yes, exactly, but lose the little green and pink flecks, they don't go. Now, let's see, give me an older guy with long white hair, peasant clothes and a pack on his back, background up to you. This is fun.
It's the three-dimensionalism actually, I think, that gives the sf cover the gamers feel, and a slight angularity blockiness to the figure. A painting would be softer, flatter, less sharp edged. In the fantasy one, the figure is farther away, less distinct and central, so you don't get that impression. But the closer shot of the woman with lighting effects -- very cool.
Maybe it's super easy to do this stuff with the software you have, but you definitely have an eye for it, and graphics arts are in demand. Talk to Abbey -- she does work in the video game world. Not that I don't like art -- the artist that did Gary's cover, for instance, is very interesting, but you're coming up with some nice designs.
Interesting stuff, northerain. I was a little unclear as to what was who's art. Was the demon in the refrigerator one yours? That was cute. But the more abstract stuff was interesting too. Good for horror or dark fantasy or thrillers.
Last edited by KatG; April 24th, 2005 at 03:04 PM.