You Can Tell a Book By Its Cover

Being a simple-minded soul from the land of the mesquite tree, I have learned to avoid any software with “Photo Shop” in the title. Probably most of those who have been discussing this thread know way more than I about cover art, but in case a neophyte is lurking back in a corner, let me recommend that whatever software you use for cover art should make use of “layers.” That is the feature which allows one to lay one or more graphics over others and combine them, erasing parts and so forth, eventually creating a single composite image.
With the addition of various filters … (the devices that add painterly effects and so forth), light effects, and the rest, one’s possibilities are very nearly infinite.
I have found JASC Paint Shop Pro fairly friendly. It has layers, and its help material is generally well written. – Al Past

While teaching my Intro to Rhetoric/Social Influence class about perception, it occurred to me that what I was lecturing about could be applied to creating a book cover. We were discussing thefactors that can be manipulated to try to get attention. Those factors are:

Intensity — for example, a bold or rich color, or a striking, startling image;

Size — such as a larger font or even a larger or smaller size for
the book itself. Looking at the books here on my table, I see an
interesting use of size — the key word in the title is larger than
the others (and red to boot!);

Contrast: something that looks different from everything else on the shelf will catch a person’s eye, as will something that has
contrast in the design (black against white, red on yellow, etc.). Another of the books on my table has a mostly dark background against which the photographed faces stand out quite starkly.

Repetition: I could see this working with shadowing of the title
or by repeating some other element.

Movement: the closest we can get to this principle with cover
design is implied movement, as in having diagonal lines or movement in a picture.

Forgive me if this is rather elementary. But as I told my students, in a world saturated with messages, catching someone’s attention is no easy feat. Of course, gaining attention is no guarantee you will hold it, but at least you have given yourself a fair chance! – Greta Marlow

I used landscape photographs for my covers, fiddled about with them on the pc until they looked like paintings, and used the results. Not only did I end up with conformity of image – different photographs but used the same techniques for each book – but they did not detract from the story. An artist’s impression of your contents can be a trifle skewed, don’t you think? As I set my books in a period that existed 200 years ago, all I had to do was to find a scene that had remained unaltered over that period of time. Also my books contain lots of characters – depicting any one of them sets that image in your reader’s eye. I hate reading a book about some sensitive artist when the front cover has an image of Superman’s double displayed on it! It’s hard to identify the character because you end up imagining the hero in the form of the artist’s depiction – F. J. Warren

Public Domain
The cover art on ‘Rashi’s Daughters’ isn’t a painting of the real Joheved; she was neither rich nor famous enough for that. However DaVinci’s art is in the public domain, and I have a license for 50,000 uses of the hi-res file from Getty Images. It cost me around $1000 if I remember correctly. I hired an award-winning design firm, Lightbourne, to do the cover. – Maggie Anton

I have an inexpensive program called Thumbs Plus that lets me mess with the overall look of the picture. I then used good old Paint to put on the title and byline. Simple-easy. I started with a vintage photo of a cowboy and his horse. I cropped it to the right proportions then I changed it to sepia-tone. Messed around with fonts and such and came up with a pretty decent cover using only low-cost tools. – Marva Dasef


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