Cover Art: I Found My Heart in Prague

A cover created for author Colleen Michaels

A cover created for author Colleen Michaels

This is the first real romance cover I have done.  In some ways it was a refreshing change of pace in others…quite challenging.

It was refreshing in the fact that I was allowed to access my romantic side but challenging due to some existing parameters I had to take into consideration with concept and design.  The parameters being: the astronomical clock in Prague, the photo/postage stamp feel, and the woman in the photograph sitting against the graffiti wall.  Aside from that, I could go wild!

Alternate Cover for I Found My Heart In Prague

This is an example of a concept not chosen by the author. I still love it and may use components in another cover, never throw artwork away!

This happens to be one of the few instances where I have given the author multiple choice for cover selection, all however with a very similar feel with all the elements of the parameters included.  Sadly, the author did not pick my favorite but “sigh”…you can’t win them all can you and in the end this isn’t MY book cover, the point is to make the author happy with the cover gracing his or her creation.  As you can see in the alternate cover that I liked best I used a different woman in the photo not realizing the who now graces cover was promised that place by the author.

I have requested that the publisher not promise that photos provided by the author be used on covers any longer.  Not because the author doesn’t take some really nice photos but because many people don’t understand the need for high-resolution images in graphic design.  Often, someone will take a picture off the web and think it can be used in print media such as a paperback book cover.  It looks great on the screen, it should work for the cover…right? Sorry, that’s just not often the case.  Generally speaking, images that are used on the web are usually set at 72 dpi (dots per inch).  This is what the human eye typically sees.  However, print media such as a paperback book cover requires a minimum of 300 dpi to get a nice sharp print image. I’m a good graphic artist, but I’m not a magician. I cannot magically add what isn’t already there as far as resolution goes.  So, it’s great if an author submits photos that can be used but we no longer promise they will be.

This particular photograph wasn’t precisely low-resolution (as in 72 dpi) but in its natural state it just didn’t fit well in the composition so I added a few artistic filters to it, oh…and I turned her into a red-head too (another request from the author.)  I also incorporated the Astrological clock into the photograph, bringing the woman to the front to create a whole collage for the photograph.  Later, in another blog, you will see an example where I was once again able to incorporate an author’s personal photo into the cover.

In the end I was quite happy with the final product for this cover. The colors are romantic, it met all of the authors requests, and the author was happy with it.  In retrospect, I feel the author made the right choice in cover.  The other I created above has more of a steam punk feel than a romantic one.  I still like it though and I stand by it….so there! I am glad that the author went with the current one though, it was the better choice for the story.

One of the most difficult things I found with this particular cover design was balancing it.  I couldn’t just plop that photo in the middle of it and call it good, nope…no way!  First, that would have driven me nuts! Second, well…I don’t need a second, it would have driven me nuts! I got around this compositional conundrum not just by angling the photo but by reversing where the book title and author appear on the cover.  Reversing them allowed me to put the smaller text at the top of the page where I could incorporate a bow from the ribbon that flowed through the whole composition, literally tying it all together, helping the potential readers’ eye to be drawn all over the cover…with the title in large letters at the bottom being the last thing seen and remembered.

Just when I thought I was done I realized there was a small problem.  As is very often the case a graphic will look wonderful on a computer screen but when it prints problems show up and alterations are necessary.  Working with fabrics can definitely be a challenge, this was no exception.  To create the blue damask I had combined a blue satin fabric and a damask fabric with a pattern I liked and created the blue damask effect by blending and fading layers together.  The satin sheen that we all love in satin looked gorgeous on-screen and translated well on-screen but once the cover was printed it looked like someone had taken their thumb and smudged wet ink on a particularly shiny area…ewww!  A few not so lady-like mutterings later I had the final product, no smudge to be seen and an author who was happy with the cover.

So, what do you think?  How would you attempt to incorporate a clock, a personal photograph with a busy graphic in it, and a prerequisite composition theme in a book cover?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

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About Anita Dugan-Moore

This blog gives me the opportunity to talk about the book covers I create for some wonderful authors and share my thoughts on movies and books that I love. Who knows...I may even share some of my own writing on here...or whatever else happens to pop into my mind.
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