"" Read more : http://www.ehow.com/how_8339780_put-emoticons-blogger.html WillowRaven Illustration & Design Plus: November 2014

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Author beware: 'Custom Cover Design' does not mean 'Original Cover Art'. {revisited}

Due to a question asked me on Twitter, I've refreshed and republished this post. Original article was also posted on the 4RV Publishing Blog.on 12/09/12. 
Most recent edit of this post: 08/14/15.

So, you've decided you want a unique book cover for your book. You don't want it to look like every other book on the shelf or web browser.

You hop on Twitter or Facebook and put some feelers out, searching for a cover artist or designer. You get dozens and dozens of responses, from both amateurs and professionals. How do you know you are going to get what you want and that it's unique?

 First you must learn a few key terms.

1- cover designer

Designers are trained in typesetting, photo-manipulation, and composition. Though rare, some designers are also trained photographers and/or traditional artists. It's accepted, once an image is altered it is a 'new work', and by law, that is true. All it takes are three distinct changes. If you are looking for something more original than manipulated parts of stock photos that could potentially be used on another book cover, be sure to tell the cover designer you are not interested in using stock imagery. A cover designer may or may not be trained for what you are looking for.

2- cover artist

In years past, publishers hired a cover artist to do the visual artwork and a cover designer to do the typesetting and layout. In today's tough job market, more and more designers are doing both the cover image (see above) and the design under one job. On that same note, more and more illustrators or cover artists are tackling the job of design. It is prudent to verify, before trusting your book to anyone that the person you hire is trained and skilled to do what you want for your cover. After all, your cover will be the first impression potential readers will have.

3- custom vs original

Many designers and websites that boast cheap 'custom' cover designs or art can be misleading. Again, let's look at the laws regarding art. By law, if an image (art or design), is altered in three ways, it is a new work. If an artist or designer manipulates two images by combining a figure from one and changing the color of something from another, all they have to do is add text. By law, that is a custom cover. That may be acceptable to you. Designs like this tend to be a cost-effective way to dress a book. However, some authors want a more detailed, more story-relevant cover, that does not include mixing existing stock imagery. If you are in that group, be sure to hire someone who insures the art is original, not simply custom. You'll likely pay more, but as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.

How do you recognize the difference between cover art and cover design when looking through portfolios?

A cover artwork should be able to stand alone and still tell a story. A design, though it may look awesome and fitting with the title and cover text, if presented alone it would just be a cool visual. Does the portfolio use photographs? And if so, were they taken by the designer or a photographer they hired? Or, if you are looking for artwork, does the artist also do the design aspect of the cover. How well does their design compliment the art?

These are all questions that should be answered before money changes hands.

If anybody has questions as to what is considered original vs custom, or the difference between cover design & cover art, please leave comment or contact me at my signature links.

*All art and design in this post was created by myself even if some images have been replaced with newer ones to keep post current with my portfolio.

Onto wrapping up the next book :-D
Until next time ...
Aidana WillowRaven


This post edited by Grammarly*
*Blurbs and quotes provided are not edited by WillowRaven, but posted as provided by author/publisher.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sword Masters of Mars ~ cover art and design; plus, my idol, Michael Whelan.

I've made it no secret that the artist I credit for inspiring me to go to college for fine art and design, with the intention of one day being a book cover artist, is Michael Whelan. There are, I'm sure, thousands of artists, if not more, that can claim the same.

For those not readily familiar with his name, you have very likely read some of the books his work has graced. One such series of cover works  Del Rey commissioned ... the re-dressing of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars novels; joining the ranks of art legends,  Roy G. Krenkel and Frank Frazetta.

Now, I know I'm no Whelan, but when Rob Dorsey contacted me about his spin-off series of novels needing artwork, I jumped at the chance before some other artist grabbed the project. 

To be honest, my only exposure to the series was through the art I drooled over and the movie I found ultra-cool (although I'm told it didn't do as well as expected, and, as typical, didn't do the books justice).

Of course, I used the project as an excuse to spend hours intensely studying covers for the series, in an attempt to create a cohesive look for Rob Dorsey's, Sword Masters of Mars. And once finished, I may have to carve out some time to read the original books. I will, however, read Rob's novels.



Sword Master of Mars is an exciting tale of the planet Barsoom, which we call Mars, and the Virginia Cavalryman John Carter, his Martian wife, the Princess Dejah Thoris, the most beautiful woman on the planet, and their second son, Darus of Helium. The noble prince attempts to settle a rebellion following a great civil war fought between Helium and the aggressor city-state of Zodanga. Zodanga loses but an army of Zodangan holdouts will not surrender and the battle goes on for twenty-five more years as the Zodangan rebels continue to fight a guerilla war against Helium. Prince Darus hatches a plan to surreptitiously imbed himself and his Zodangan adjutant into the rebel ranks, commanded by their evil Jeddak, or king, Teyos Than. Darus is to be surprised by what he discovers there and how his discoveries alter the course of the war, his royal family and his own life. There are great and dangerous beasts to conquer, sword duels to be fought and new relationships to nurture, all amongst the bizarre creatures and alien hordes of the Red Planet. Here, a Prince of Mars discovers that, like his father, he might find love in the most unexpected of places.

I still have several b/w sketches to complete for the interior, so keep an eye out for more on the pending release for Sword Masters of Mars, by Rob Dorsey.

This is an excellent opportunity to, once again, show of some of MW's amazing work, but this time, not dragons (which is what I usually show). The following are from his contribution to the Martian Tales.

***Crazy postscript update ... On a whim, I sent a tweet to Michael Whelan (@whelanmichael) the other day, after realizing his twitter account was on his newsletter that I subscribe to. My idol ... the artist who brought me through a traumatic injury, actually responded to my tweet, and not with a cookie-cutter reply, either. Knowing how little he's active on twitter, I never expected a response. I went into total star-struck, crazy fan lady mode. lol How many ways can I say MADE MY YEAR!

Thought I'd stop in & say hi. I've followed ur work for years & regularly blame you for my choosing to become a cover artist.

  oh no, not my fault! Twas Frazetta who motivated me, the blame goes to him:-)

Now was that the coolest response, or what? Sounded just like a person and not the demi-god I know him to be, lol. After my temporary mental breakdown, I tried to play it cool ...

But I only have one book of his work; I have all of yours, ;P.

On that note ... Happy Thanksgiving, everyone :D

Onto wrapping up the next book :-D
Until next time ...
Aidana WillowRaven


This post edited by Grammarly*
*Blurbs and quotes provided are not edited by WillowRaven, but posted as provided by author/publisher.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

"Return to Dune Towers" writing challenge - submission by P.S. Arabella (@PSArabella)

I have found my visual writing prompt challenge much more fun and interesting that I expected to. I started rotating the challenge on twitter a couple months back; something just for fun to create a little interaction with interested new followers, not expecting mush response. Color me painted with surprise :D

Visual writing prompt: http://willowraven.weebly.com/return-to-dune-towers.html Write a short for this & I'll post it w link to you :-D

Each author that submitted, using this same image as a visual prompt, has come up with a literary short or poem, each unique from the other. It's amazing to see the visual/text relationship working in reverse. I'm usually creating the art based on the words, LOL. I never imagined there would be so many different stories for the same image. I'd love to see one of these authors take the image and run with it, turning it into a full novel. :D

Today's submission is by  P.S. Arabella (Twitter: @PSArabella). Be sure to check out her links below for more of her writing. :D


"Off in the distance, she could see it, Dune Towers. It was a captivating landmark but to her it was just a beautiful prison. For her people, she would do this; she had to do this. She would become his. She wondered what he was like. Like all the people on this world, she had heard the stories; knew of his famed encounters with their enemies. He had brought peace and prosperity to a land that had been at war, but even with all the technology at his disposal, he was still known for his barbaric ways. Her heart was heavy having left everyone and everything she knew behind, but she still had hope. Hope that the day would bring with it a new beginning of peace and happiness for her just like it had for this world. As the hover board brought her closer to her final destination, she held her head up high and resolved not to let this challenge defeat her. She would win this battle and the war within the confines of Dune Towers."

Isn't that awesome? Intrigue, suspense, and romance in one paragraph! Be sure to swing over to twitter, or one of Arabella's other networks, and let her know what you think. Keep an eye out for this writer!

Want to take the challenge, too? Write a short for this artwork, and I'll post it with links to your website and/or network profiles. :-D  

Onto wrapping up the next book :-D
Until next time ...
Aidana WillowRaven


This post edited by Grammarly*
*Blurbs and quotes provided are not edited by WillowRaven, but posted as provided by author/publisher.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Going from Photoshop raster to Illustrator vector, for logo creation..

Logo created exclusively for Carnoria Publishing

Being more comfortable with Photoshop than illustrator, I prefer to start logo creation in PS, then convert the logo as a vector, in Illustraor, after the fact.

First, I create the art in Photoshop, then design the text to go with it in a PS layer. I blind any layers I don't want to show up in the final logo, and save the file as both a PSD (to retain the layers for later use) and as an EPS.

I then open the EPS file in Illustrator.

Note, if clicked on, tell-tale vector points can be seen when the group image is selected, but the image and a white ground act as one element right now, so it's only a partial vector at this point. I also don't resize anything until after I make a few adjustments. Let's vectorize the still-raster art layer.

Double click on the white background area, which should select the entire art layer. Open the Live Trace tool and choose these settings. Don't panic if the screen goes dark for a moment, each change has to recalibrate the preview.

Make sure the method option is on the first option. This allows us to 'ignore white'. Most helpful when wanting a clear ground.

Now go to the top and 'Expand'. You should see a mass of blue points. The art is now vectorized, to match the text.

To resize everything, so it fits within the workspace, click outside the work space, to clear any selected point, then click on any one element, so that every element 'lights-up'. While holding the shift key, drag the outer corners until the size you want is established.

Click outside the work space again, so you can see what minor adjustments still need made. Like in this case, the text is a touch off compared to the globe, so click on just the top text area, like so. Then adjust the bottom text group, if desired.

Now save as an Adobe Illustrator file (.ai), and you have a vector logo to present to you client, that doesn't have the resizing drawbacks of the original raster file.

Hope someone finds this helpful.

Onto wrapping up the next book :-D
Until next time ...
Aidana WillowRaven


This post edited by Grammarly*
*Blurbs and quotes provided are not edited by WillowRaven, but posted as provided by author/publisher.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

'A Witch's Tale' ~ cover art and design (@Irina_Mknight)

Lucretia T Knight and I met on Twitter (@Irina_Mknight), which lead us to Live Chat on my website, where we planned out the cover for A Witch's Tale together, first in the series.

The only real parameters were a geometric design and a water wave.

Well, I wanted the shape to represent both water and witchcraft, plus I wanted to represent a portal.

Triangles have significance in a multitude of religions, including witchcraft. An inverted triangle symbolizes water, so I thought it would make a good portal.

Let me know what you think. :D


Amy’s life is a numb existence of work and home, until strange dreams of the moon and waves sweep her into a dark place within herself. Her mundane world begins to spin into exciting, erotic adventures. But, who is really in control? Disjointed memories of the day rattle Amy’s mind and she begins to question her sanity. She discovers an old familial connection to witchcraft. A journey into her mind and soul lead her to a place where she will have to battle for the right to her own existence. Converging blood lines will either destroy her, or liberate her.

If you'd like to follow Lucretia T Knight and her writing:

 twitter: @Irina_Mknight

Onto wrapping up the next book :D
Until next time ...
Aidana WillowRaven


This post edited by Grammarly*
*Blurbs and quotes provided are not edited by WillowRaven, but posted as provided by author/publisher.