Congratulations to author CK Dawn!

I recently collaborated with an author named CK Dawn on a book cover design project.  Her new young adult urban fantasy series is launching today so do feel free to click on the fancy new cover and buy yourself a copy of this exciting new book!

If you like modern ladies called to be Arthurian Knights that battle monsters (and really, who doesn't) this will be a  treat for you!

If you like modern ladies called to be Arthurian Knights that battle monsters (and really, who doesn't) this will be a  treat for you!

This book is my first foray into the world of digital book publishing so I was excited to get the job.  The best bit was reading the novel (in an earlier draft) and working with the author to capture just the right feeling and moment from the novel.  Initially we chatted about a painted cover and I made some cartoony mock-ups of her main character for promotional updates during the build-up to the book release. 

After researching online book sales we decided the most profitable books use photographs.  So, the new plan was that I would just digitally adapt a model so she looked like the main character (Abbey).  

This Russian model sorta looks like a blonde teenager if you squint a bit. 

So we put on our diving suits and waded into the vast ocean of stock photography websites.  

Sweet Christmas that was a long slog.  Finding just the right model and photo was tricky enough, but we also needed a licensing deal that fit my client's budget and promotional requirements.  

Ultimately we rejected the idea of exactly replicating the main character and focusing on the mood of the book.  

This is a famous cosplay model named Pan Shuang Shuang, Shutterstock did not, as it turns out, have the right to sell her image.  But I did add a glowing purple magic effect before we knew that! 

The characters in this book have some specific powers, one of which is the use glowing purple orbs.  This gave me a chance to delve into the world of Photoshop special effects which was a delightful treat. 

Once, we came upon the "perfect" image only to find out the stock website didn't actually have permission from the model or photographer to sell the image.  Yeesh!  It did give me a chance to learn how to make purple magic effects and abuse lens flares like an indulgent JJ Abrams.

In early drafts I used my own photographs in conjunction with the stock photos.  I was particularly taken with a photograph of my daughter in the woods taken by my husband.  Part of the novel is set in the woods.  However, this idea was too busy for the world of tiny thumbnail sized book covers.  We needed something simple, gripping, and blue.  Apparently, blue is the most profitable book cover color.

Here is the original.  

The original photo of the woods is one taken by my husband of our daughter.  The kid doesn't have a pink streak in her hair...yet. 

Eventually the right image was found.  The book features dangerous shadow animals.  So a misty and menacing hand was found.  The author gets the credit for this excellent choice.  Here is a secret for your CK Dawn fans.  The author is actually a pair of sisters and one of them noted that the fingers on the ghostly hand were slightly stumpy and needed to be elongated.  This was easy enough to do.  Here is a nice tutorial on that process.

The original photo is on the right.

The next order of business was the font, which I had already purchased and made sure had the appropriate licensing nailed down.  Then I used one of the fabulous special effect font tutorials found here to make the font glow metallic blue with an internal shadow in an effort to match the knightly theme in the book.  I highly suggest any designer take a few hours to try some of these Photoshop tutorials.  They are a treat. 

The last order of business was surprisingly tricky.  Finding the perfect dimensions for the final image.  Amazon changed it's recommendation for book sizes in July 2014 but the new size of the required file would have been prohibitive for my author so I hunted down this bit of advice from the Kindle publishing guide:

Et voila!  We have a finished cover!