Another possible cover for Coding Hour

245

Comments

  • A_A_CainA_A_Cain Oz Creator
    As Ron notes, it's very obviously a "constructed" image. It doesn't look professional enough to convince me.

    After all the go-around, I actually prefer your very first image of the road sign :).
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    Still too small to read in thumbnail, but there is an obvious sign. Or two.

    Both are codes used in the book -- yes, subjective -- but one looks objectively like a code (it's from Edgar Allen Poe's The Gold Bug) (Which oddly could also have been a John D. MacDonald title). The other looks like an odd thing for someone to post, suggesting that it's a code -- am I giving the viewers too much credit?

    Anyway, I could have gone bigger on the signs, but then they would have been flat and looked "constructed." As it is, they wrapped nicely around the pole.

    A.A., yes, it is a challenge to construct a cover without it looking constructed. That's why I'm always looking for a single photo that expresses the idea with minimal tinkering (I'm a bit ham-fisted on my touch-ups).

    I'm always slightly tempted to use a blank white cover with black letters, but that would be even less professional in the long run. I'll save the sign on the ground for a future book that fits that theme.
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    All sounds good! I should have mentioned that the composition of the cover looks great! It just needs to include something directly relating to the theme of the book that is more immediately apparent at a glance. For instance, I didn't realize at all that those were police lights in the windows! In fact, I didn't even notice them until you pointed them out! Now, if there had been a couple of police vehicles parked in front of the buildings as well...
    Parking a police car in front of a building would be a stretch for me. Getting the signs to curve around the pole took some careful set up in the photography.
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    Pixelated...
    OR
    Hyper-pixelated...

    I actually kind of like these...
  • A_A_CainA_A_Cain Oz Creator
    There's too much going on, I reckon. A cover should instantly sell (and tell) the subject matter, you shouldn't have to decode it. It's turning into a bit of a head scratcher, with the noughts and crosses and the strange formula on the post. It seems to turning into a book of puzzles, not a police procedural story.
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited July 31
    Skoob_ym said:
    Still too small to read in thumbnail, but there is an obvious sign. Or two.

    Both are codes used in the book -- yes, subjective -- but one looks objectively like a code (it's from Edgar Allen Poe's The Gold Bug) (Which oddly could also have been a John D. MacDonald title). The other looks like an odd thing for someone to post, suggesting that it's a code -- am I giving the viewers too much credit?

    Anyway, I could have gone bigger on the signs, but then they would have been flat and looked "constructed." As it is, they wrapped nicely around the pole.

    A.A., yes, it is a challenge to construct a cover without it looking constructed. That's why I'm always looking for a single photo that expresses the idea with minimal tinkering (I'm a bit ham-fisted on my touch-ups).

    I'm always slightly tempted to use a blank white cover with black letters, but that would be even less professional in the long run. I'll save the sign on the ground for a future book that fits that theme.


    This is an immense improvement! At least the potential reader doesn't have to search out clues. By putting the signs in the center of the cover you take advantage of the natural tendency of the eye to go to the middle of the image. Then there is the pay-off of having something there that is suggestive of a story.

    AACain may have a valid point in suggesting that you may want to be sure that crime is conveyed in some way. Stick a knife in the posters or something.

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    Skoob_ym said:
    Pixelated...
    OR
    Hyper-pixelated...

    I actually kind of like these...


    In the first one, the gratuitous reflection in the window only serves to draw attention away from the more important elements of the cover. I'd delete that.

    The pixilation is indeed a very interesting way to go, and I like the direction you are taking, but you want to be careful to not pixilate to the point of obscuring the identity of the background image. I probably would not pixilate the pole at all. Something you might want to try is having the image begin normally at the top or upper right-hand corner or from the center of the cover and become gradually more pixilated away from that point. You could do this by applying a shaded mask to the image (using Photoshop's Quick Mask Mode and the Gradient tool) and then applying the pixilation effect, which is what I did here...

    In this example, the gradient was from the upper right corner to the lower left.

    Another way to make the transition might be to duplicate the background layer, apply your pixilation to it and then erase part of that layer, revealing the unaffected image beneath.

    PS

    And upside to the pixilation is that it softens the image behind the back cover blurb, which was hard to read. You may still want to lighten the grey rectangle behind the text even further.

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    Newsflash: Man arrested jabbing knifes into telephone poles. Claimed it was for a book cover. Film at Eleven... :lol:

    Okay, I think I can make it work...

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    If I publish another twenty or thirty books, I should be good at Photoshop by then... :lol:

  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor

    That's what it can take!  :)

    If it's any comfort, I've been using Photoshop for more than twenty years on hundreds of covers and I don't know how many hundreds of illustrations...and there are still things to be learned.

    Oh. I guess that's probably no comfort. Well, keep plugging away anyway! :)

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    Well, I've discovered the power of layers, apparently.

    Here, three backgrounds, masked into stages, so that foreground pops and backgrounds fade -- a darkroom depth of field, if you will. Also gave highlights (lowlights?) to a couple of minor elements deeper in.

    Added knife.

    If it served no other purpose, this cover has taught me a lot about Photoshop that I didn't know.


  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    To set your minds at ease, I only jabbed the knife into the side of my garage. I'll paint over the nick tomorrow.
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    Well, I've pulled the trigger.

    I'm aiming for a "Release" date in early September, so to allow for a proof and yet have time to order in bulk for the "Release," it was a choice to publish now or slip the deadline. I'm hoping to book a local used bookstore on the night of the monthly downtown "Art Walk." Sufficient passersby those nights that a book signing should have a chance of success. We'll see how it goes.

    Thanks, all and sundry. You're in the acknowledgements, with my gratitude. Ron, in particular, your gentle tutelage is greatly appreciated.
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor

    Knife looks good. It needs a shadow, though. Otherwise it is just floating in space.


    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    edited August 6
    I may revise the cover later on, to give collectors a thrill some day. I had a shadow at first, but it was too strong and ended abruptly, so I figured that no shadow was better than a wrong shadow.
    Your suggestions on the signs and on the pixelation seemed to be spot on. Everyone I've shown the cover agrees that the telephone pole is a great focal point for what would otherwise be a very general picture.
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    I don't think I would eliminate the shadow entirely. It not only looks more realistic, it helps place the knife in space, so that it is clearly stuck into the pole and not floating in front of it. And I think it adds to the depth of the image and to the drama.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Now you have included the blurb, I get what the story is about, whereas the front cover does not tell me.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    BTW. What type of coding is referred to? Computer? 'Dan Brown' sort of stuff? Code of Conduct? There's no real clue to suggest which.

  • A_A_CainA_A_Cain Oz Creator
    BTW. What type of coding is referred to? Computer? 'Dan Brown' sort of stuff? Code of Conduct? There's no real clue to suggest which.

    Yes, that's my problem with the cover and the title - they're not sending clear messages as to the genre.
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    Well...the book is called "Coding Hour," there are some cryptic messages stuck to a post with a knife...I am pretty sure that the book is not a western, a Regency romance, humor or science fiction. The cover may not zero in on a specific sub-sub genre, but I don't think it fails to convey something of its nature to the potential reader.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Well...the book is called "Coding Hour," there are some cryptic messages stuck to a post with a knife...

    It could be about tic tak toe or even Sudoku.

    I am pretty sure that the book is not a western,

    As in cowboys and Indians I assume? No not that.

     a Regency romance,


    Nor that.

     humor or science fiction.


    But it could be either of those latter two or both.

     The cover may not zero in on a specific sub-sub genre, but I don't think it fails to convey something of its nature to the potential reader.

    It does not answer my question, so surely does not answer the question for the potential reader. But you are right that the addition of the papers pinned to the post offer more of a clue. To me it now says 'old school' pre-computer sorts of codes. Is that correct? Although computers have been and are used to crack them, which would interest those interested in computers, too, so would spread the potential market more? Perhaps the back view of someone sat at a desk in front of a laptop while studying sheets of old-school codes? Just a thought.
  • A_A_CainA_A_Cain Oz Creator
    edited August 14
    Well...the book is called "Coding Hour," there are some cryptic messages stuck to a post with a knife...I am pretty sure that the book is not a western, a Regency romance, humor or science fiction. The cover may not zero in on a specific sub-sub genre, but I don't think it fails to convey something of its nature to the potential reader.
    Well yes, but from what the author has described, it's more a small town police procedural than anything else. That doesn't come across to me, certainly not from the title - which more suggests a cyber-thriller. It's too cryptic.

    But then, I'm in a much less cryptic genre - although, to be fair, there's a lot of sub-text coding going on there, too ;).
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    Well...the book is called "Coding Hour," there are some cryptic messages stuck to a post with a knife...

    It could be about tic tak toe or even Sudoku.

    I am pretty sure that the book is not a western,

    As in cowboys and Indians I assume? No not that.

     a Regency romance,


    Nor that.

     humor or science fiction.


    But it could be either of those latter two or both.

     The cover may not zero in on a specific sub-sub genre, but I don't think it fails to convey something of its nature to the potential reader.

    It does not answer my question, so surely does not answer the question for the potential reader. But you are right that the addition of the papers pinned to the post offer more of a clue. To me it now says 'old school' pre-computer sorts of codes. Is that correct? Although computers have been and are used to crack them, which would interest those interested in computers, too, so would spread the potential market more? Perhaps the back view of someone sat at a desk in front of a laptop while studying sheets of old-school codes? Just a thought.

    Well...the book is called "Coding Hour," there are some cryptic messages stuck to a post with a knife...

    It could be about tic tak toe or even Sudoku.

    I am pretty sure that the book is not a western,

    As in cowboys and Indians I assume? No not that.

     a Regency romance,


    Nor that.

     humor or science fiction.


    But it could be either of those latter two or both.

     The cover may not zero in on a specific sub-sub genre, but I don't think it fails to convey something of its nature to the potential reader.

    It does not answer my question, so surely does not answer the question for the potential reader. But you are right that the addition of the papers pinned to the post offer more of a clue. To me it now says 'old school' pre-computer sorts of codes. Is that correct? Although computers have been and are used to crack them, which would interest those interested in computers, too, so would spread the potential market more? Perhaps the back view of someone sat at a desk in front of a laptop while studying sheets of old-school codes? Just a thought.

    Well...

    Then Skoob would lose the small-town connection he wants to get across. It might be possible to keep the police connection if the person is in uniform, but that might not come across easily in a back view. Too, he might also lose the implied threat/crime angle that the knife in the pole suggests.

    I don't think that it matters at all whether or not the "codes" are seen to be old-school or not. That there is any connection with computer coding at all is sufficient. I don't see any need to get more specific than that.

    Perhaps some of these issues might be resolved by making one of the messages pinned to the pole be blatantly computerese of some sort.

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    Well...the book is called "Coding Hour," there are some cryptic messages stuck to a post with a knife...

    It could be about tic tak toe or even Sudoku.
    Yes, that certainly would be my first thought. :D


    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Then Skoob would lose the small-town connection he wants to get across.

    I forgot to also suggest that the desk is in front of a picture window, looking out on a small-town street.

     It might be possible to keep the police connection if the person is in uniform, but that might not come across easily in a back view.


    Don't they normally were distinctive dark blue or brown shirts with epaulettes? Not to mention side-hung holsters. But other hints could be on the desk.

     Too, he might also lose the implied threat/crime angle that the knife in the pole suggests.


    Could that not be seen through the window?
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    I don't think you want to get too subtle with a book cover. Skoob is kind of pushing the limits right now, though the pinning of the cryptic messages on a pole with a knife is at least front-and-center. (And now that I look back at it, I'd like to see a little drool of blood running down the papers from the tip of the blade.) The back view of policeman sitting in front of a computer with something going on outside a window and "hints" scattered on a desk might be a little too much like a visual puzzle and less like the simple, direct, immediate message a cover needs to convey.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Well, anyway, that's the way I would do it if it was my book, and it seems a simple alternative to me :)
  • BTW. What type of coding is referred to? Computer? 'Dan Brown' sort of stuff? Code of Conduct? There's no real clue to suggest which.


    All of the above, of course. Cyber-crime, Criminal Code, 0 & 1, and a few ciphers. The unexcluded middle rides again!
  • Gentlemen (and any ladies who may have stumbled in here):

    I took a couple weeks off while waiting on the proof. Sorry I haven't been here to discuss things.

    I appreciate the discussion. It makes excellent food for thought, and I'm already thinking of what to do for my next book cover, which HVALA BOGU! is a non-fiction book at a fairly simplistic reading level. I can be pretty blatant on what it's about in making the cover, and it will fall dead-smack-on in a genre (instructional books).

    For now, I've added a shadow to the knife (somewhat) as the proof did have it floating in space.

    I think that the principal problem in showing my genre on my book covers is that I try to escape the confines of genres. I know, everyone says that - but honestly, if you could read a science fiction story that wasn't just another Western set in Space (Cowboys and Indigenous North Americans, for those of you who are not North Americans), wouldn't you prefer that to a standard shoot-em-up bang?

    Not that there's anything wrong with the old Zane Grey / Louis L'Amour / Max Brand staples, but what if it could be more than that? A new take, a new twist, a bit of old and new... I'm thinking of a Sherlock Holmes take-off where the detective is a self-aware software program, for example... Would you make a cover based on Sherlock Holmes, or on Computers, or on something that made proponents of both scratch their heads a bit? A deerstalker cap and a pipe drawn in zeros and ones, maybe?  

    So I try (not that I achieve, but I try) to bend genres a bit. Cross-over, color outside the lines, pull the wagon out of the ruts. I'll confess: I'm a writer first and an artist second. I like to think that I've got a photographer's eye for composition, but I may flatter myself; nonetheless, my true craft is the written word.

    It is what it is. At a certain point, I have to simply be happy with what I've done. And right now, I am. It's probably the finest work I've ever done, for weal or for woe. Later, I may go back and do revisions, but there are other projects piling up behind. I'm hoping to send out one more book by the end of the year.

    Expect an announcement for this book some time around October 4 (the "Official" release). Until then, thank you for the help and discussion.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    I think that the principal problem in showing my genre on my book covers is that I try to escape the confines of genres. I know, everyone says that - but honestly, if you could read a science fiction story that wasn't just another Western set in Space (Cowboys and Indigenous North Americans, for those of you who are not North Americans), wouldn't you prefer that to a standard shoot-em-up bang?

    When you think about it, all stories or more or less the same, and it's almost impossible to get away from it, because they are written and read by humans.
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