Cover Art: some thoughts about stock photos

Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
edited September 19 in Author Workshop

As everyone probably knows by this time, I have a very dim view of stock art. Its use has become something of a crutch. I have seen too many people settle for second-best simply because they cannot find the right artwork available on line. And they stop looking right there, as if there were no other alternatives, no place else to turn to.

There are a lot of problems and issues with using stock images, most of which I have already discussed elsewhere. But to sum up---

Too often the author/designer has to settle for "close enough" if they cannot find an appropriate image.

There is the danger of having your cover art appearing on a hundred other books at the same time.

There is also often the cost to take into consideration.

And, finally, it is too easy to become dependent on stock imagery. One of the results of this dependency is a stifling of the imagination. Far, far too many times I have seen someone give up on an idea entirely because they can't find what they want ready-made online.

This is especially frustrating to see when the author is looking for something that is not even especially unusual.

All of this is made even worse when when the image desired is something that is, in fact, immensely simple and perhaps even commonplace.

One solution to this dilemma is: Why not create your own "stock" art? If you have a phone you have a camera perfectly capable of taking images of high-enough quality to use for a book cover. There have been countless examples in these forums where I have seen someone have to either settle for second-best or, worse, abandon a good idea simply because they couldn't find the right image ready-made. This is especially frustrating to see when the necessary image would be something immensely simple and easy to create.

What stock imagery should be is a last resort rather than the first thing one thinks of. It goes without saying (but I will anyway) that not everyone might have what's needed for their cover. There may be props, costumes, settings, etc. that may be difficult or impossible to find at hand. The point is, eliminate the possibility of creating your own images either whole or in part before turning to stock art sources.

A cover may be a mix of found images and created ones. A background, for instance, may be from a stock source while the characters in the foreground are your own models.

Here are some examples of the sort of thing I would like to encourage people to do...

http://black-cat-studios.com/webtests/untitl2.htm

The cover for Lois Bujold's Knife Children is a good example of what I am talking about. http://black-cat-studios.com/webtests/1000_(6).jpg All I needed was two hands making the right gesture. It was simplicity itself to take my own photos rather than search all over the internet looking for something that might only be just close enough. (The background was composed of images I already had in my files. The knife was yet another file photo, hand-altered to match the book's description.) The same also goes for Ars Poetica, where all I needed was a poem printed on a sheet of paper and a glass of what I hoped might look like liquor (it was tea: I'm not going to spill good liquor for a book cover). Again, a few minutes' effort and I got exactly what I needed, without any need for compromise or half-measures.

I have included a dozen examples of cover art in which I have employed my own photos, along with a few examples of the original photographs. The only "stock image" source I will turn to is the Library of Congress, which is a gold mine of background details. For instance, the interior of the room in the Lovecraft artwork, or the ruins in the distance in the space pirate illustration.

Some of these examples may still be a little more complex to create than some people may be willing or able to accomplish, but the underlying point remains the same: don't automatically turn to stock image sources, don't develop a dependency on them and, finally, exercise your imagination!

I also take photos wherever I go of anything I think might be even remotely useful later: trees, landscapes, rocks, mountains, buildings, cars, animals, textures of all kinds, props, machinery, etc. etc. I keep these in files sorted by subject. The background for Exchange of Hostages, for instance, was composed of several photos I took of machinery and construction sites, while the backgrounds for other images were found among photos I had taken during various vacations, such as the rocky sea shore that is in one of the examples, or a room in an old castle.

A great source for potential models, props and costumes is a local Little Theatre---or a high school or college theater department. Organizations like these are often happy to help out a local author. We have a very active Little Theatre in the town in which I live. I have not only found willing models from among its members, but its collection of costumes and props has been invaluable. There is scarcely any period of history for which I can't find what I might need. Fortunately, I can also depend upon my immediate friends and family (many of whom show up in the samples I've linked to).

The main trick in composing a cover from several different images is being aware of light and color. All of the elements need to look as though they are part of the same scene. For instance, in this picture http://black-cat-studios.com/webtests/1000_(9).jpg I made sure that yellow light from the background spilled onto the figure. In this example http://black-cat-studios.com/webtests/the_magi.jpg , even though my wife was photographed someplace entirely different than the castle chamber background, I made her part of the scene by making her drapery translucent so that light from the window showed through it.

One useful technique that goes toward eliminating any cut-and-paste look is to run the Blur tool around the edge of a picture element. This removes the hard edge and makes the image blend ever so slightly with the background.


__________________________________________
Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
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Comments

  • I'm nowhere near the expert Ron is, nor do I pretend to be. I get the part about making one's own stock photos; I have an extensive library of phone-camera snaps where I thought, "Hey, that's pretty typical of..." and snapped a quick pic. The problem is getting those generic images to fit into a specific theme.

    Okay, if you're writing a religious book, any photo with a religious element will do. Any cross, whether from a gravestone, the nave of a chapel, or a rosary on a sidewalk, will suffice to say, "This is a religious book." It probably won't be a great cover, but it would be adequate. If you're writing erotica, a close-up photo of nearly any body part (so long as the model is attractive in that part) will suffice. A navel, the back of a neck, an earlobe, a bicep, an ankle -- unusual choices, but even those relatively innocent body parts, amplified to cover size, could convey "graphic romantic (erotic) content." Or, any two people, staring into each other's eyes, regardless how they are clothed, would convey "Romantic Fiction" -- the nature of the clothing might then convey the tone and genre (gothic, western, etc).

    Those would, imho, be adequate covers. They might get a letter grade of a C or a B, that is, they might work, or work nicely. They would not by any stretch be unique, inspired, or provocative.

    But suppose that you are writing a religious story that takes place on Venus -- not Venus as we know it to be now, but as a 1940s writing might imagine it, with planet-wide seas and floating islands; breathable air buried beneath screen of world-hiding curtain of clouds -- and in which the main characters are a naked green woman of pure innocence, a naked Cambridge Don, and the body of a human man, now possessed by some inhuman power of evil.*

    A mere cross would not suffice. A picture of modern spacesuits would not suffice. A very specific set of photos would be needed.

    I would probably begin with a front cover of three faces: The green woman above the others and facing forward; the Cambridge Don and the possessed human facing each other below that -- each in profile -- with loathing on the Don's face and a sneer on the Un-man's. And that would be a tough shot (or series of shots) to set up. An artist might sketch it or even paint it, but those of us whose sole graphic talents lie behind lenses would be a bit hampered.

    Not to say that it can't be done: I'm merely saying that anyone telling you cover design is easy, "this that and Bob's your uncle, Guv" -- is vastly over-simplifying.

    _________

    * *Perelandra* by C.S. Lewis, as an example

  • Skoob_ym said:

    I would probably begin with a front cover of three faces: The green woman above the others and facing forward; the Cambridge Don and the possessed human facing each other below that -- each in profile -- with loathing on the Don's face and a sneer on the Un-man's. And that would be a tough shot (or series of shots) to set up. An artist might sketch it or even paint it, but those of us whose sole graphic talents lie behind lenses would be a bit hampered.

    Well, I did say that my suggestions would not be appropriate for everyone and every circumstance...

    Not to say that it can't be done: I'm merely saying that anyone telling you cover design is easy, "this that and Bob's your uncle, Guv" -- is vastly over-simplifying.

    Which, really, was the entire point of my comments in the discussion regarding Derek Murphy's DIY videos. There really is no easy ABC formula for creating book covers.

    _________

    * *Perelandra* by C.S. Lewis, as an example

    Here, by the way, is the "Green Lady of Perelandra" that I came up with for my book, Firebrands...


    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    A navel, the back of a neck, an earlobe, a bicep, an ankle -- unusual choices, but even those relatively innocent body parts, amplified to cover size, could convey "graphic romantic (erotic) content."

    Would that not be a book on biology?
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eroticism

    Basically, it's all in the mind and not all minds are the same.

  • oncewasoncewas Librarian

    It all comes down to $$$. No way am I paying for cover art if I don't get a good enough return. I'll stick to stock photography for now. Most of us engaged in self-publishing will be lucky to sell 500 copies of any one book we publish. If you’re selling an ebook at $0.99 those 500 copies will give you $ 175 and you will probably have to pay $ 500 for cover art.


  • oncewas said:

    It all comes down to $$$. No way am I paying for cover art if I don't get a good enough return. I'll stick to stock photography for now. Most of us engaged in self-publishing will be lucky to sell 500 copies of any one book we publish. If you’re selling an ebook at $0.99 those 500 copies will give you $ 175 and you will probably have to pay $ 500 for cover art.


    Indeed. But my argument was that stock images and professionally created covers are not the only two options. Creating your own cover from scratch is certainly a viable way to go. My point was that a DIY cover does not necessarily have to depend wholly on available stock images. In many cases, this might be so--which I also pointed out. These might be instances where the nature of the required cover precludes anything that might be easily photographed by the author. For instance, the cover may have to focus on a dragon or a high-tech spaceship interior. But...I have seen example after example where someone either settled for "close enough" or even abandoned the cover they really wanted because they couldn't find the right image ready-made...when exactly what they needed could have been accomplished very easily with their cell phone and a little imagination. In all of the examples I posted in my link, I tried to include as many as I could that required the simplest and least exotic components. For example, in the step-by-step Lovecraft illustration all I needed was a willing friend, a glass bottle and a background (which, though I found what I needed at the Library of Congress*, might have been just as easily found around town somewhere). For the cover of Knife Children I needed only a pair of hands, a bone (for the handle of the knife) and a couple of images from my photo album for the background. Ars Poetica required only a glass, a couple of ounces of tea and a piece of paper. This cover needed nothing more than a photo of an old briefcase:

    So that was really the point of my original post. Use stock imagery if you have absolutely no other recourse...but don't be a slave to it. Don't settle for second or third best simply because you can't find something on the shelf, ready-made. Stop and think...and use your imagination.

    And also remember that your own photos are totally free.

    -----

    *Since I didn't mention it before, here is the link to the LoC photo and print collection http://www.loc.gov/pictures/

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • A navel, the back of a neck, an earlobe, a bicep, an ankle -- unusual choices, but even those relatively innocent body parts, amplified to cover size, could convey "graphic romantic (erotic) content."

    Would that not be a book on biology?

    I have to admit that it would be a pretty peculiar biology book that had an earlobe on its cover. :D
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eroticism

    Basically, it's all in the mind and not all minds are the same.


    True enough. And not only are not all minds alike, neither are all cultures. What might seem erotic in one country might not get even a raised eyebrow in another.

          
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited September 20

    One more piece of advice for the author who wants to create their own cover art...

    Take a couple of art classes at a local community college. Learning something about two-dimensional design (composition) would go a long way toward making cover layouts more attractive and effective. Learning something about color, light and shadow and perspective would be a very good thing, too. Even if you don't plan on drawing or painting your own art from scratch, knowing these things will help in combining found images so that they work together as a whole. A drawing class will give you skills in not only observation but in the eye-hand coordination you will need to manipulate and alter images...and especially if you need to add details to an existing image.

    To take some of the covers I have already posted as examples, there are the bullet holes and pool of blood in the Players cover. The swirls around the knife in Knife Children were done by hand, as was the drool of blood in Rage. The shadow of the torn edge in Rage was done by hand so that it would follow the contours of the face. The rim lighting on the main figure in Exchange of Hostages was done by hand. All of these things don't necessarily take great skill in drawing but they are the result of the kind of practice a drawing class can provide. An art class will also make you more aware of how light and shadow work, so that you can better integrate elements into a single image, such as the lighting in the picture of the girl with the sword in the castle or in Hellspark, where greenish light was added to the side of the girl's face and reflections of her fingers on the silver sphere. In this illustration I posted an hour ago, the shadows of the figures were drawn in by hand. Doing this made them part of the entire picture instead of looking pasted-on. I was also aware of the need to make the lighting consistent. These are the sorts of things you learn to look for while taking classes in art and drawing.


    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Here is another example. The main figure is my wife again. The astronaut is from an historic Air Force photo. The landscape is from one of my astronomical illustrations, as is the planet. The flying saucers are a photo of a model in my collection. The aliens are photos of a crustacean from yet another government website (NOAA, I think). Much of the lighting on the woman has been added or enhanced by hand and the shadows on both the figures and the ground were added by hand, including small details such as making sure that the woman's leg cast a shadow onto the astronaut. Having even some basic drawing--and observation--skills enabled me to do that, as well as be able to separate all of the picture elements from their original contexts and combine them seamlessly. Being aware of how light and color bounce back and forth between objects made me sure to add the proper reflections in the helmet, for instance.

     

    Here are two more examples from the same series. In both, attention was paid not only toward making all of the elements combine seamlessly--which is where practice in drawing helps, even if all one is doing is cutting or erasing around a picture element--as well as being aware of light, shadow and color. For instance, in the upper picture, I was careful about making the wings seem to be part of the figure's body so they didn't look pasted on. I also made sure that the ray gun blast and rocket exhaust were illuminating the figures and the wings. In the lower image, the same things applied. The cast shadows and the use of lighting helps make all of the different elements seem to be part of the same scene...and all of these were added by hand. For instance, there is back lighting on the monster and the alien riding on it. There is bounce light from the landscape on the lower parts of the monster as well as illumination from the laser blast. These things not only help to integrate all of the bits and pieces, but they also help toward giving things shape and volume. All were done with an awareness of light and shadow and no more drawing skills than you can get from a good class and some practice.

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited September 20

             

    Here are some more examples. Clockwise from upper left...

    The girl was posed by a friend. The monster is a model constructed by someone I worked with. The background and sky are from my photo files. Again, care was taken to keep lighting consistent in order to make all of the different elements work together (mainly blue light from the left and warm light from the right).

    I recycled my friend from the Lovecraft illustration for this. The background is from a snapshot taken in an antique store and the girl is another friend.

    The same friend who appears on the Kagan cover is the main figure here. The other two figures are other friends. The figure on the left was wearing a costume she had made, the other has her costume hand-painted on. The starry background is from NASA and the globe was hand-painted.

    The girl is my daughter, the flowers were from separate photos, then manipulated, the immediate background is from a file photo, the distant castle from a vacation picture. Only the little knight on horseback came from a source---in this case an old book in my collection.

    Again, the entire point of these examples is to discourage a dependency on stock imagery, or, at the very least, discourage going to a stock image source as one's first option.

    The advantages of working with one's own images are pretty obvious. First, of course, is that you get exactly what you want. You don't have to settle for "close enough" or second best. Second, your images are free: there are no fees to pay or restrictions to worry about (and, of course, all the rights belong to you). Third, your cover art is unique. You won't find the same image showing up on a hundred other books. And, finally, it's fun.


    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  •  
          

    Thought I'd add a word about these images I posted earlier.

    Top left: this is entirely digital. The girl was a photo I'd taken. The snake I found in a book from the 1920s and hand-colored. The foreground ruins and cave are from my photo albums and the face was a photo of an African mask. Details such as the golden tears were painted in by hand.

    Top right: This was painted in acrylics. The clouds were enhanced later digitally with images from my photo albums.

    Bottom left: This was also painted in acrylics and again, the clouds were enhanced later with images from my photo albums.

    Bottom right: The figure on the left is my wife. The other figure was built up from several photos of a friend with, obviously, a lot of manipulation in Photoshop. The foreground and background landscapes are from two vacation photos in my albums. The planet was created separately in a 3D program.

    With the exception of the top right and bottom left illustrations, these all demonstrate what can be done with non-stock images.

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • A navel, the back of a neck, an earlobe, a bicep, an ankle -- unusual choices, but even those relatively innocent body parts, amplified to cover size, could convey "graphic romantic (erotic) content."

    Would that not be a book on biology?
    And what is erotica but a very narrow and specific study of certain aspects of human biology?
  • Skoob_ym said:

    I would probably begin with a front cover of three faces: The green woman above the others and facing forward; the Cambridge Don and the possessed human facing each other below that -- each in profile -- with loathing on the Don's face and a sneer on the Un-man's. And that would be a tough shot (or series of shots) to set up. An artist might sketch it or even paint it, but those of us whose sole graphic talents lie behind lenses would be a bit hampered.

    Well, I did say that my suggestions would not be appropriate for everyone and every circumstance...

    Not to say that it can't be done: I'm merely saying that anyone telling you cover design is easy, "this that and Bob's your uncle, Guv" -- is vastly over-simplifying.

    Which, really, was the entire point of my comments in the discussion regarding Derek Murphy's DIY videos. There really is no easy ABC formula for creating book covers.

    _________

    * *Perelandra* by C.S. Lewis, as an example

    Here, by the way, is the "Green Lady of Perelandra" that I came up with for my book, Firebrands...


    While I think that the image might very well express the Green Lady of Perelandra -- even in the attending animals and the flora around her -- I think that some readers might be shocked unless the image of the Cambridge Don in combat with the Un-Man (or another aspect of the story) somehow obscured the lower regions of her physique.

    I did not mean to disparage the advice you were giving, but to amplify it. My own covers are significantly better for your input. 
  • A navel, the back of a neck, an earlobe, a bicep, an ankle -- unusual choices, but even those relatively innocent body parts, amplified to cover size, could convey "graphic romantic (erotic) content."

    Would that not be a book on biology?

    I have to admit that it would be a pretty peculiar biology book that had an earlobe on its cover. :D
    Merely illustrating that if the point is skin, any skin will do. Imagination need not apply.

    The real application of the art is in the mind, and certain parts of the mind are extremely predictable.
  • One more piece of advice for the author who wants to create their own cover art...

    Take a couple of art classes at a local community college. Learning something about two-dimensional design (composition) would go a long way toward making cover layouts more attractive and effective. Learning something about color, light and shadow and perspective would be a very good thing, too. Even if you don't plan on drawing or painting your own art from scratch, knowing these things will help in combining found images so that they work together as a whole. A drawing class will give you skills in not only observation but in the eye-hand coordination you will need to manipulate and alter images...and especially if you need to add details to an existing image.

    ...

    Understanding three-point perspective and lighting does help significantly. In the signs I added to the telephone pole for my cover of Coding Hour, I wrapped the papers around a couch pillow covered with a dark towel, and lit them from the right side. This gave me a lighting pattern that agreed with the light falling on the telephone pole.
    The realization that it was necessary came from having dabbled in photography as a younger man.
  • oncewas said:

    It all comes down to $$$. No way am I paying for cover art if I don't get a good enough return. I'll stick to stock photography for now. Most of us engaged in self-publishing will be lucky to sell 500 copies of any one book we publish. If you’re selling an ebook at $0.99 those 500 copies will give you $ 175 and you will probably have to pay $ 500 for cover art.


    But you might well be able to shoot a better and more appropriate photo on your own cell phone without buying anything. I shot this:
    A Trufflesome Murder
    My only expenses were the paper doilies, the truffles, and a tube of cake decoration.
    And the truffles were quite tasty. 
  • Skoob_ym said:
    oncewas said:

    It all comes down to $$$. No way am I paying for cover art if I don't get a good enough return. I'll stick to stock photography for now. Most of us engaged in self-publishing will be lucky to sell 500 copies of any one book we publish. If you’re selling an ebook at $0.99 those 500 copies will give you $ 175 and you will probably have to pay $ 500 for cover art.


    But you might well be able to shoot a better and more appropriate photo on your own cell phone without buying anything. I shot this:
    A Trufflesome Murder
    My only expenses were the paper doilies, the truffles, and a tube of cake decoration.
    And the truffles were quite tasty. 

    I'd forgotten about this cover! It was excellent!
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    True enough. And not only are not all minds alike, neither are all cultures. What might seem erotic in one country might not get even a raised eyebrow in another

    Indeed. And what someone may consider to be porn, could just be a person in a swimsuit.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Nowadays almost everyone carries a half-decent camera around in their pockets. Their cellphone. People can often take their own 'stock' images. You don't even need to be a good photographer. Just do what even a lot of professional ones do with their digitals. Take 100s of photos and delete the rubbish ones. Ask your mates who travel a lot to take ones for you also. But what is a handy thing to learn is how to use Photoshop, or one of its cheap or even free clones. At least how to learn cut and paste.


    And I have to say this, if the writer of anything does not know what to put on the cover to represent what is in the book, then advice is needed. Plus, not everyone is creative no matter what tools they have.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    And as Ron as pointed out so well, scantily clad females, often in peril, even males, have been on the covers of books for decades. As is said, 'sex' sells, even when it's only a tiny part of the story.


    https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=old+sexy+book+covers&FORM=HDRSC2

    SF is rife with it, and always has been.

    https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=old sexy SF book covers&qs=n&form=QBIR&sp=-1&pq=old sexy sf book covers&sc=0-23&sk=&cvid=E152ECCAE4D04AB1B8F26D5DE58694D6
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited September 21

    And I have to say this, if the writer of anything does not know what to put on the cover to represent what is in the book, then advice is needed. Plus, not everyone is creative no matter what tools they have.
    Exactly why many authors should leave their cover designs to people who know what they are doing. Not only does the lack of artistic and technical ability get in the way but also--as you very rightly point out--the lack of objectivity. It can be very hard for an author to step back and look at their book as an uninformed reader would.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • And as Ron as pointed out so well, scantily clad females, often in peril, even males, have been on the covers of books for decades. As is said, 'sex' sells, even when it's only a tiny part of the story.


    https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=old+sexy+book+covers&FORM=HDRSC2

    SF is rife with it, and always has been.

    https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=old sexy SF book covers&qs=n&form=QBIR&sp=-1&pq=old sexy sf book covers&sc=0-23&sk=&cvid=E152ECCAE4D04AB1B8F26D5DE58694D6

    Indeed! (Though the Bing search engine sure has some peculiar ideas about what constitutes "sexy"!)
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Skoob_ym said:

    One more piece of advice for the author who wants to create their own cover art...

    Take a couple of art classes at a local community college. Learning something about two-dimensional design (composition) would go a long way toward making cover layouts more attractive and effective. Learning something about color, light and shadow and perspective would be a very good thing, too. Even if you don't plan on drawing or painting your own art from scratch, knowing these things will help in combining found images so that they work together as a whole. A drawing class will give you skills in not only observation but in the eye-hand coordination you will need to manipulate and alter images...and especially if you need to add details to an existing image.

    ...

    Understanding three-point perspective and lighting does help significantly. In the signs I added to the telephone pole for my cover of Coding Hour, I wrapped the papers around a couch pillow covered with a dark towel, and lit them from the right side. This gave me a lighting pattern that agreed with the light falling on the telephone pole.
    The realization that it was necessary came from having dabbled in photography as a younger man.


    There are some things that should always be kept in mind when combining picture elements from different sources into a single image. The main goal is to make the final art look unified and not a patchwork. Here are a few ideas...

    Details are important. Adding the shadow of the knife to the cover of Coding Hour helped tie both it and the posters to the entire picture. Nothing should ever looked pasted-on. If an object casts a shadow, it immediately becomes part of the environment.

    Making sure that light and shadows are consistent. These don't have to be strictly accurate, just convincing. What you don't want is two objects each with a light source coming from a different direction.

    Watching for bounce light. This can be really effective in tying together different elements. For instance, a red object sitting next to a yellow one will have some of its color reflected in its neighbor, and vice versa. If there is a colored light anywhere near a pasted-in object, adding some of that color to the object will help tie it into the picture.

    Watching edges: razor-sharp hard edges are a certain giveaway that a picture element has been cut and pasted in. Softening these edges (and there are a couple of different techniques that could be used), will go a long way toward making an object become part of the whole picture.

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Skoob_ym said:
    oncewas said:

    It all comes down to $$$. No way am I paying for cover art if I don't get a good enough return. I'll stick to stock photography for now. Most of us engaged in self-publishing will be lucky to sell 500 copies of any one book we publish. If you’re selling an ebook at $0.99 those 500 copies will give you $ 175 and you will probably have to pay $ 500 for cover art.


    But you might well be able to shoot a better and more appropriate photo on your own cell phone without buying anything. I shot this:
    A Trufflesome Murder
    My only expenses were the paper doilies, the truffles, and a tube of cake decoration.
    And the truffles were quite tasty. 

    I'd forgotten about this cover! It was excellent!
    Gained six pounds doing that cover... Had to keep re-shooting... :D
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Indeed! (Though the Bing search engine sure has some peculiar ideas about what constitutes "sexy"!)

    I do think it's set at 'Moderate'   :)  But I think they are oldish covers from a different era.
  • Indeed! (Though the Bing search engine sure has some peculiar ideas about what constitutes "sexy"!)

    I do think it's set at 'Moderate'   :)  But I think they are oldish covers from a different era.
    Well, I was kind of wondering how H.G. Wells' First Men In the Moon and Verne's 20,000 Leagues got included...but I guess that the spaceships on the former cover and the submarine on the latter are kind of phallic. Which just goes to show you where Bing's mind is... ;)

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    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited September 22

    http://black-cat-studios.com/photocovers/ I found this webpage that I had a created a while ago still online. I thought it might be interesting in that shows some of the photos I took for the covers, so you can compare them. A lot of these are repeats from examples I have posted before, but there might be some new ones. One thing I want to draw attention to is the mantra I keep repeating here: making use of light, shadow and color to integrate the different elements of a picture into a single unit.

    I'm sure that everyone will notice that there are a few models who appear in a lot of covers. My wife and daughter, of course, and whenever I find someone willing to model I not only take the photos I need for the project at hand, but dozens of others, with different poses, expressions, etc., for potential future use. This often saves me a lot of time and effort later on. So some of the art---such as the Matthews and Velda books---were taken specially for the covers, some others were photos I found already in my files.

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    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
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