Red Letter Dress

I’m having so much fun creating covers for Alina K. Field. She asked me to create a new cover for a novella called Liliana’s Letter, and gave me a photo of a woman in a red dress from Deposit Photos. It’s an eye-catching jewel toned satin-looking red. Very beautiful, but very modern feeling. Twentieth century, at the very least.

So I went back to Period Images for a more historical couple.

This one had everything we needed, except the dress wasn’t red, his hair was dark instead of light, and her hair was light instead of dark. Easy fix.

I went to work with and soon we had a lovely match to the red, but with a much more Regency feel. After a few more tweaks, I put our couple in a dark garden outside a ballroom and found a handwriting-style font for her name in the title.

I swear, this cover design stuff is really fun.

Blue for a Bastard

Alina K. Field‘s next book arrives on May 5th, and I had so much fun designing the cover!

The book is called The Bastard’s Iberian Bride. That title demands a great dress, so I looked for an image that would feel a little exotic and passionate. As usual, Period Images delivered what we needed.

But we wanted a dress of a different color. I toyed with some pastels, since she was a bride…

But it wasn’t drawing the eye like it needed to, and it wasn’t doing anything to highlight the dress. So we decided that only a deep blue dress would do.

It was time to roll up my sleeves and get to Photoshopping.

Several layers later, her dress was transformed into a heavily embroidered cerulean blue. This cover was a pleasure to make.


Too Much of Too Many Things

If I’ve learned one thing these past few months, it’s that there is, in fact, a limit to my time…and I’ve reached it. I’m over-committed, over-extended, over-booked, and I’m just over-it. So I’ve been doing a little soul searching about what, really, is important to me when it comes to this business.

As much as I enjoy creating websites, they are incredibly time-consuming. Not to mention stressful. My dad once told me that when you’re doing any project on a house, even when it seems clean cut and simple, something will come up. You might have to adjust something to make it fit, or redo it completely, or go to the hardware store to get additional tools or supplies. Building a website is kind of like that. Things come up. Usually technical things. And sometimes no matter what you do, it’s not going to turn out exactly how you hoped.

And then there’s the unknown. I once asked my hosting service for help with something technical and I was told “you need to consult a web developer” — not helpful! My clients think I can do anything. The truth is that I am largely self-taught and just really good at understanding how computers work. Sometimes my best friends are Google and Youtube.

So long story short, I’m changing the focus of my business toward book covers. I may still take on the occasional author website, but for the most part I will devote my time and energy to what brings me the most joy.

Can’t wait to add the cover I’m doing right now to my portfolio–it’s my favorite!

Vote in the JABBIC!

Have you heard of the JABBIC contest? JABBIC stands for Judge A Book By Its Cover, and the contest is hosted by the Houston Bay Area Romance Writers of America.

This year, Alina K. Field entered the cover I did for her recently in the Historical section. I’m very excited, this is a first for me!

If you love book covers (who doesn’t?) please take a few minutes to judge some books by their covers! Alina’s cover can be found near the bottom of page 3…

Where have I been??

I’m working on a little thing called California Dreamin’ (writer’s conference in March) and another little thing called California Readin’ (event for readers in March) and between them and my other commitments, there has been no time or thought for blogging!

I’ll resume regular posts in April, and until then I invite you to check out the two events that are occupying the bulk of my time!
This Brea, California conference was the brain child of the four Southern California chapters of RWA back in 2013. This is the third conference, and it’s jam-packed with quality speakers, along with keynotes Robyn Carr and Sarah MacLean. Registration ends February 28th.
Romance readers are always looking for their next book. This year California Readin’ is here to help readers do exactly that by bringing them together with their favorite authors as well as authors who are new to them. We’ve gathered together 60 best-selling and award-winning authors, ready to meet new readers. Tickets are available now.


Text Effects

Background Image above (c) Can Stock Photo / rach27

This week I played with a few text effects techniques. Book covers and graphics need readable text, and sometimes the image doesn’t help at all, so I am constantly on the lookout for new ways to emphasize text.

The first effect I worked with is a little complicated. Using a thick text, make a clipping mask to the text layer using a duplicate of the background image. Then adjust the opacity levels as needed to make the text readable. I like this effect because it allows the viewer to see the entire image and read the text too:

The second effect I practiced is a pretty standard technique: lighten the background image so the text stands out. Here’s the before. It’s hard to read the text!

By adding a layer of white below the background image and then decreasing the background layer’s opacity, the text becomes much more readable:






A Regency Book Cover for Alina

When I was approached by Alina K. Field to do a cover for her upcoming Christmas novella, I got giddy. I grew up reading Regency romance novels, and now I could create a cover for one? I was in!

My first draft was definitely a first draft. I wanted the Regency feeling to continue all the way to the back cover, and along with guidance from Alina, I researched Regency wallpaper styles (called paper hangings), Christmas traditions (no tree), and toys for children (rocking horses would work). She had given me the heat level, so I knew the models would keep their clothes on. With the basic elements chosen, I did a very rough draft for her to review. I present it here in all its gory glory:

There was still a lot of work to do. We did away with the framing and I went back to the drawing board on fonts. The wallpaper needed to be completely redone and diminished so the back cover text would be easy to read.

We purchased the cover images and I basically did a lot of Photoshop. After receiving the final page count and other elements required to finalize a full cover flat, I completed this one with a lot of personal satisfaction. This cover was a pleasure to do.

To complete the package, I added a title page image to match the cover. And the finished product looks awesome in print, too! (printed book photo by Alina K. Field)



Paper Collage Effect

I’m always trying to improve my design skills, so I frequently find myself taking new Photoshop for Lunch classes on Skillshare from the awesome Helen Bradley. Recently, I took one called Layered Paper Collage Effect because I think this effect could lend itself nicely to a future book cover.

I didn’t have something specific in mind, so I made a flower on a gradient background. My gardening skills are very limited, so I have no idea what type of flower this might be in the real world. I had a lot of fun with this one. The effect is pretty cool, and I’m excited to try it out again in the future.


A Logo for a Music Festival

My sister teaches vocal jazz at a university in Oregon. She called me up the other day asking me to make a logo for an upcoming festival for both classical and jazz vocal groups. How could I refuse?

This one didn’t take very long. I needed to read the rules and restrictions about using the university’s logo in conjunction with the festival logo, but really this is so “all in the family” (for the university as well as for me) that it wasn’t that difficult.

My first thought was, since it was musical, I would use the image of a staff behind the logo, and I would follow the university’s style guide for the color scheme. Then it was just a matter of choosing fonts. I went through a few drafts with the addition of a treble clef and musical notes, but it was a little busy and cute. So, in the end, this is where we ended up:

I think it works, and she was happy. A happy client is always a good thing, especially when that client is a relative!

A Book Cover for Maggie

Well, friends, after several months of market research and improvement of my Adobe CC skills, I have finally stepped into the amazing and exciting world of catching the attention of a reader at the book store…book covers!

My first released book cover is for Maggie Marr, the beginning of a six book romantic suspense series set in Hollywood. I love doing a series because that means I get to design a little series logo and make the books feel like a set. I love a good challenge!

For the first book, I began with the genre: Romantic Suspense. I did a lot of research on what that means when it comes to a successful cover, and then I started looking for the perfect images and fonts. I had already designed Maggie’s name logo, so I had that element. I wanted to use blue because the character has blue eyes, and I chose this model because he has light eyes, easy to make a deep blue.

My first draft looked like this (left). Definitely blue, definitely noticeable…

I was pretty happy with the main image, but we knew that the same image had appeared on at least two other books (rightly so, he’s a great cover model and it’s an incredible photo) so I wanted to make him look even more different from the previous uses. I’d already manipulated the image quite a bit, adding a dramatic feel. But also, this character is a former marine, so I added a hint of tattoo. I also removed his hands from the image completely, to help bring the viewer’s focus to more important things…his eyes!

I added the series logo design, did more Photoshop magic and voila! Done, right? Or so I thought… Then came the long process of creating the full flat for paper books.

I learned so much in this first digital to print experience. I learned that even though I thought I understood color management in Photoshop, I was missing a few details. For instance, the blues I chose were just not going to be as vibrant in the paper version, no matter what I did. I spent days making minute adjustments and researching color management…but basically, I was out of luck.

When we got the proof back from CreateSpace, to my horror, the blues had gone…PURPLE! That was NOT my intention for this book, so I went back and did even more research and color profile adjustments. I’m so grateful to have seen the proof and had a chance to address the final color issues before it went to print.
At the same time, I received some notes on the cover. Since I was color correcting anyway, with Maggie’s blessing, I decided to make further adjustments. I finally came to peace with the colors and I’m very happy with this final cover.

I’m honored that Maggie is taking a chance on me as a cover artist! So…would you notice this book? And would you buy it?