I am the first to admit, I don’t know diddly-sqwoot about effective cover design. But now, with self-publishing as the only option left to me, I am learning things about publishing that I only ever scratched the surface of in my few college forays into publication design and layouts. I had some experience publishing junior high yearbooks, (and losing money on something that most teachers lose money on). And I have gotten a lot of serious criticism from sources that matter to me, like my daughter, the Princess.
With the novel I have been working on with Kindle Publishing on Amazon in view, I came up with this. I like it. But it will not cut the mustard with the Princess. (She uses a knife on mustard, but lately has given up on eating mustard all together). So I had to work the idea out further.
I tried this;
The design is a little better. But Rowan has become so ratty and run down that I hesitate to use the background which is not much like the Rowan of 1974 when the novel was set. So I decided to focus on character instead.
Still needs work, right? You can no longer see the post office sign in the background. Sherry is still a small head growing out of Superchicken’s neck. And Milt Morgan is a good addition, but the purple paisley shirt looks terrible. And besides, this will not fit the whole cover of the Kindle paperback.
It will end up looking something like this;
Or not. Because I am still learning how to do it right, and I still have many more mistakes to make. But as I finish editing and formatting, the time will come soon to see the proof in the pudding. (And you better hope I don’t put uncut mustard in the pudding. That would taste terrible.)
A simple, black-and-white drawing done in pen and ink. Elegant. Easy to understand. At least, if you can get past the weird little kid inside a birdhouse who has apparently saddled a mutant pigeon-sparrow. The black and white is the essential underpinning. The bones of the idea.
So, adding color makes things a little more complex. I started with the girl’s face. Here is where I establish the basic color-theme. And give more character to the surprised face peering through the portal of the bird house.
Much of the work in coloring this little articus projecticus is a matter of pattern. I like doing wood-grain patterns in colored pencil. It looks good when it’s finished. But it also takes time to do line after line.
The last step is to color the bird-riding fairy-kid. Here I am completing the color-echoes and the pattern-making. More lines. More care with giving the shapes volume by using light and shadow. And now we are at the final destination. The picture is complete.
This drawing is not done. I have plans. But this pen and ink Paffooney is a good example of a doodle-point I probably need to make. The plan does not occur before the ink hits the drawing pad. No, this one started with a circle. And for no good reason, I had to draw the girl’s face in the circle. But what was the face doing inside a circle like that? I next drew the bird. But if she’s so surprised to see a bird inside a birdhouse… Well, you get the idea. The story comes after the scribbling.
And here comes the controversial conclusion. This is exactly how life happens. Stuff becomes… and the reason why only becomes clear later. Curse me for a doodling philosopher!
Remember this picture that I said was unfinished? It was supposed to be a picture called The Stag in Snow. But I was always reluctant to dab the snowflakes on over top of the picture I basically felt was good the way it was. So, I have experimented with art editing programs to the point of putting snow flakes into the picture without risking spoiling the original with blobs of white paint.
I successfully added snowflakes to the blue background. I couldn’t help but feel like it is a starry night in the background rather than snowfall. And so I saved this product separately before continuing to experiment.
The final product faithfully carried out my original plan. And it does look like a rather mechanical snowfall. But I don’t like it as much as I like the starry background step. It makes me truly glad that I did not put white paint on the original. I would be happy to have your opinion in the comments. Of course that is also a tricky way to make you reveal whether you are actually reading the words of this post or just looking at the pictures.
The Toonerville Post Office and Bert Buchanan’s Toy Store.
Toonerville is not only a wonderful cartoon place created by Fontaine Fox in the 1930’s, but the name of the town that inhabited my HO Train Layout when I lived in South Texas and had the Trolley actually running nearly on time. The train layout has not been restored to working condition for over a decade now. The buildings which I mostly built from kits or bought as plaster or ceramic sculptures and repainted have been sitting on bookshelves in all that time. I still have delusions of rebuilding the train set in the garage, but it is becoming increasingly less and less likely as time goes on and my working parts continue to stiffen up and stop working. So, what will I do with Toonerville?
Wilma Wortle waits on the station platform for her train at the Toonerville Train station. I built this kit in the 1970’s, hence the accumulations of dust bunnies.
Loew’s Theater has been awaiting the start of The African Queen for more than twenty years.
Main Street Toonerville at 2:25 in the afternoon. Or is it three? The courthouse clock is often slow.
Grandma Wortle who controls all the money in the family likes to park her car near the eggplant house when she visit’s Al’s General Store.
But I may yet have found a way to put Toonerville back together through computer-assisted artsy craftsy endeavors.
A two-shot of Bill Freen’s house and Slappy Coogan’s place on the photo set to start production.
Bill Freen’s house lit up with newfangled electricical. (and I do believe that is the way Bill spells it all good and proper.)
Bill Freen’s house cut out in the paint program.
So I can make composite pictures of Toonerville with realistic photo-shopped backgrounds. Now, I know only goofy old artsy fartsy geeks like me get excited about doofy little things like this, but my flabber is completely gasted with the possibilities.
Bill Freen’s house at sunset… (but I don’t get why there’s snow on the roof when the grass is so green?)