rowyn: (Me 2012)
Sunday's poll was overwhelmingly in favor of the silhouette-style cover, on both LJ and Twitter. I got some good suggestions on the theme of "make it more fantasy"*, however, so I poked at a couple of new versions. Which means it's time for POLL PART 2.

I will probably tweak whichever one I go with.

I am doing both best/worst questions because I can easily see a three-way tie for "which do you find most compelling" and still have a clear "this one is least compelling".

Moon Etherium Cover Art Comparison

Lettering is still a placeholder! Final layout will be different.
[Poll #2054202]

* Special thanks to [livejournal.com profile] terrycloth and [livejournal.com profile] archangelbeth for suggestions!
rowyn: (Me 2012)
I set a release date for The Moon Etherium, my magic-rich fantasy romance: September 26!

That means it's time to freak out about the cover some more!

So I spent like 20 hours working on a painting for the cover several weeks ago. I have become increasingly less happy with it.  I tweaked a few things about it  that particularly bothered me, and I'm okay with it now. But I'm not sure it's the best possible choice.

I fiddled with some alternates a couple of weeks ago, and while my quick Twitter poll favored one of them, I kind of hated it. I decided to do some more variants on the same general theme. I actually did five total, but I'm only showing the one I like best here. And a poll, of course.  Because poll.

The lettering is a placeholder, so don't worry about that part. [livejournal.com profile] alinsa will be doing the actual text layout. I just threw some words on so it would look cover-ish.

The Moon Etherium comparison
[Poll #2054073]
rowyn: (Me 2012)
[livejournal.com profile] gnibbles did a cover for me!




The aspect ratio is off, so not quite appropriate for the final book, alas. }:) Although in complete seriousness, I like a number of things about it. She's using the skyline of the Sun Etherium at the top and the Moon Etherium at the bottom to frame the figures, which I had not thought of and which looks cool. And her rendering of Ardent (the satyress on the left) is charming. ♥

I am ambivalent about my skillz as an artist, particularly when it comes to realistic illustration. Silhouettes I can handle. Full color ... eh.

But I have, once or twice, done full-color portraits that approach the general vicinity of the skill level I want for The Moon Etherium cover. Moreover, the final image is going to be mainly seen at 150x250 or 300x500 or so. So I was thinking, maybe if I start with a really big file and then shrink it down a lot, it could be mistaken for professional?

I am unconvinced by this reasoning.

Still, I kinda felt like drawing this morning, and I really did not feel like writing, so I took some reference photos of myself, did a sketch, and started to color it. Not in the slapdash fashion of my quick doodles, but a serious attempt to make it look good, no matter how long it takes.



I didn't really keep track of time, but this is probably 2-3 hours in. I am abandoning it here.

Interestingly, I'm quitting not because I feel like I've proved to myself that I'm not good enough: the jury is still out on that one. From the technical "does this look like a picture of a person?" perspective, it's not that bad.

From the "does this look like an appealing character?" perspective, though, it's not working. I think Gnibbles's painting has more heart and spirit. Mine looks ... off. Not just "I need to futz more with it" (which I do), but it just looks fundamentally not-very-attractive. Possibly I could fix it without restarting entirely, but I think re-doing the underlying sketch and coloring anew will be less frustrating.

EDIT:

Revised version-in-progress! Got to about the same place as the earlier one, after 2.5 hours, and am much happier with it. Not wild about how it looks at thumbnail size, though. I may need to do the headband in a different color so it doesn't blend with the horns at mini-size. Or change the horn color.

rowyn: (artistic)
Since my last update, I have:

* Finished an alternative layout for the Further Arrangements cover, which most people liked better than my original vertical one.
* Finished a couple of different set of separators for the FA cover, and an alternative version for one of the panels. Poll results were not conclusive on these.
* Changed the color of the decorative trim on the FA cover, after [livejournal.com profile] terrycloth pointed out this obvious solution to the "it's invisible at thumbnail size" issue. I actually don't mind it being invisible -- I think that looks better than the solid white -- but the dark looks fine too. Pix and poll a new below!
* Written three scenes and completed one bullet point for Birthright. I wrote slightly more words in one more day than I did last week, and realized that I am still obsessed with word count. I really don't need to worry about words, because this manuscript is almost 50,000 words and only 20-25% of the way through the story. There will be plenty enough words before it's done. So I am going to stop recording words written and only focus on scenes & bullet points completed.
* Wrote a back cover blurb for FA. I'd like to improve this before the publication date, but it's good to have something.
* Asked the SFWA new release newsletter to include Further Arrangements in the February newsletter. Gave FA a release date of February 2.

That seems like enough.

Further Arrangements Front Cover dark trim . Further Arrangements Front Cover symm cats and decor

[Poll #2034018]
rowyn: (Me 2012)
The triangular layout won the poll both on LJ and Twitter, which meant I had to spend some more time futzing with it because I really hated the section dividers on that version.

Most of the people on the poll respondents said "the cats are fine", but I remain undelighted by the original cat pose, so I re-did that, too. Hence, a few new versions to show off! Click through to see full-size versions.

With original asymmetrical kitties and decorative trim:

Further Arrangements Front Cover Triangular Layout asymm cats

With symmetrical kitties and plain trim:

Further Arrangements Front Cover symm cats and plain

With new, more-symmetrical kitties, and decorative trim:

Further Arrangements Front Cover symm cats and decor

[Poll #2033850]
rowyn: (Me 2012)
I am working on the cover for Further Arrangements! That means it's time for a poll!

I originally had three different layout ideas for this cover, each of them a triptych: vertical, horizontal, and triangular. The horizontal layout was the least popular on my Twitter poll, and would require totally different illustrations for each section. But I could do the triangular & vertical layouts using the same illos for two sections, though I had to redraw the third. So I did the vertical layout on Sunday, and then yesterday & Tuesday I pushed things about to make the triangular one. It was more annoying than I'd expected.

I don't like the separators for the triangular layout at all. and I miss having the twee cat-tail-heart-shape. Even though it is very very twee. I think the triangular layout is a better use of space, but I'm still not sure. Maybe I just need to re-do the cats? Maybe there's not enough whitespace in the triangular version? I DON'T KNOW I HAVE NO MEASURABLE GRAPHIC DESIGNS SKILLS HELP.

The title/author text is a placeholder because I don't have the typeface [livejournal.com profile] alinsa used on RA. Final one will match RA's.

So. POLL!

Triangular layout:
Further Arrangements Front Cover Triangular Layout

Vertical layout:

Further Arrangements Cover v 1

[Poll #2033561]

You can click on the images to enlarge. They're displayed at approximately Amazon-preview-size, because that is the size they will be most often viewed at prior to purchase. This is the size I want them to look best at.

Edit: At Micah's suggestion: the two potential covers bracketing RA's cover:

Further Arrangements Front Cover Triangular Layout Rational Arrangements cover Further Arrangements Cover v 1
rowyn: (artistic)
The "three figures dancing" was more popular than any of my other choices from the previous poll on the cover for A Rational Arrangement, so I've been working on that one. I fixed the ratio* first, and added a bit of the heretofore unseen dancers on the right and left, and made a few adjustments to the figures. I also fiddled a lot with the background in an effort to make the text would stand out better and to make the whole thing look better when it's shrunk down to thumbnail size. This meant ditching my beloved parchment background, which I've used for all the headers so far**. Oh, and [livejournal.com profile] tuftears and [livejournal.com profile] archangelbeth both suggested putting the frame at the very edge of the image, so I did that.

Then I tried text layout again, and branched out from Amazone to experiment with some less-script-like and possibly-more-readable fonts. Also a few different layout choices. [livejournal.com profile] archangelbeth suggested both making the word "Arrangement" more prominent and putting the author name at the top, so I did samples with those. I think I personally prefer the author name at the bottom. I am not sure about making "Arrangement" the dominant word: I think the significant word in the title is "Rational", myself.

Anyway, I've got four different variants now, I figure I can do a new poll!

You should be able to click on the images to see the full size versions on Flickr. I've thumbnailed them at the size Amazon displays thumbnails on its main page.

[Poll #2012821]

@fullaquirkes on Twitter pointed out that I didn't order the images by typeface, or clearly label them. Ack. The images in the poll are:

1. Amazone
2. Harrington
3. Amazone (again)
4. Chisel D

* Amazon's Kindle site has one ratio in the guidelines for uploading to the site, and a different ratio that they actually display at and that everybody else uses. I dunno what's up with that.

** I am resisting the urge to replace the backdrop for all the existing headers to match the cover. This way lies madness.

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