Tag Archives: arts

Writing: The Cover Art Process

It’s been a very busy couple of weeks getting Embers Amongst the Fallen ready for publication. I decided to go the electronic reader route first and chose Smashwords, which will format it for different ereaders, PDFs and html. While formatting a story is relatively easy (I have a couple of stories I will be putting up) the formatting of a book with titles, footnotes and table of contents took far more time. And even then I had to keep correcting items. Eric Warren of Creative Touch Design Group did the cover for the book. I’ve never had control of the cover before and the process was an interesting one.

cover art, writing, publishing, book covers, speculative fiction, Smashwords

One of our first tries, before I changed the title.

Eric is a friend, a writer and a great photographer. I told him that I wasn’t sure what I wanted but it needed to be darkish and smeary, with red, brown, green in it. He read a couple of stories and I filled him in on what some of the others were about. The images that caught him were ghost children, a woman being swarmed by insects and a funeral pyre. He sent me the version on the left. I liked the image of the person but I didn’t like the glaring white of the shirt. I liked the blurred features but felt the background was too indistinct. When I stood back and looked at this book there was nothing that really said fantasy or horror and it could just as easily be a book on spiritual inspiration.

writing, publishing, epublishing, speculative fiction, books, Smashwords, cover art, book covers

Version two did not have “speculations” but we thought this would help clarify the category though it has confused a few of my friends.

So we talked about it. One problem is finding enough images in the public domain where there isn’t copyright infringement. Sometimes you can change a picture enough. I liked Eric’s ideas and said can you add a wing behind one shoulder of the person? After all, there is a tale of angels in the book as well. With some hunting Eric found the right wings. Sandra Kasturi suggested I go with Embers Amongst the Fallen, taken from the title of one of my stories and much more imagistic than Temptations and Transformations. I also used Facebook to poll people.

Version 4 with image toned down and bugs added.

Version two was significantly closer. It had the blurb from Wayne Sallee, and the new title, flames and wings. But it was still too white. I didn’t like the white. And I liked the blurry androgynous figure better. This one looked like a man. To me it didn’t mesh. I was happy with the font. We decided the blurb was too busy so we dropped it.

Eric sent me a blurry and a non-blurry version because sometimes our brains envision other than reality. I also said, how about a swirl of insects coming over the body and up under “Embers.” Like an S curve, Eric asked. Yeah that’s it. Okay, it was getting better but it was still too white for me. And the font was a little too subtle in color.  I suggested taking the yellow color from the fire and using that on the font instead. The bugs looked more like ships from Star Trek and I wanted some contrasting color. I asked Eric to put a mask on the shirt and make it green and put a slash of green into the background. I also asked for one version with a cursive script just to see how it would look. Eric added a screen to the background, which also helped in texturing.

cover art, publishing, ebooks, book covers, art, design, composition

Version 7 is getting much closer. There is more depth between the background and the font and the bugs look better.

Version 7 was getting closer. But the cursive font didn’t work. Too light to be seen in a thumbnail image that Smashwords puts up on their site. Eric added in some bees and beetles that helped define the swarm better.  The flames also stood out from the background, and the greens were helping. But the shade on the shirt wasn’t right, too opaque. I asked him to make both like the background color.  Then I was fooling around in Picassa when I downloaded one of his versions and I hit one of the screens. It turned the whole thing a bit more yellow but it made the wings creamy. That’s what I wanted, no white except my name. I also suggested putting a dark green drop-shadow behind the title to differentiate it a bit more.

cover art, cover design, book covers, publishing, Creative Touch Design

Version 10, with many tweaks. At this point I posted it for comments.

We went back to the other font and added Aurora Nominee above my name. He suggested Two-Time Aurora Nominee but I thought that was too much and would be cluttered. We decided to try a few bugs over top of the font. At version 10 I asked for opinions. Overall positive, but I’d already noticed that the beetle over the “L” in Fallen cut the word too much. People said it looked like an “I”. We moved it down but it was still cutting it too much so I said, try a bee instead. We also dropped “Speculations” down a bit to differentiate it as a subtitle. Embers had also been too close to the border so I had Eric bring that down as well.

I’m quite please with how the cover turned out. Eric’s happy with it too. The important thing in designing a cover is to allow for some artistic interpretation and know your first design probably won’t stay.

writing, publishing, cover design, art concepts, cover art, book covers

Embers Amongst the Fallen available through Smashwords

Your ideas may not come out exactly as you envisioned: I know what I had in my head but it probably would have involved an illustrator. Still, this works well and I let Eric actually begin the process. Bugs and flames and wings speak of more than one thing and it references the 16 tales in this book. So here is the final version and if you would like to order an ecopy go to Smashwords. I should have a print version by the end of August and will post that when I do. Now I’m off to Alberta to the When Words Collide convention where I will be on several panels, do a reading and see if I win the Aurora Award.

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Insta Fashion: Is it Art?

Fabrican, spray-on clothing, fashion, art, skin-tight clothing

Fabrican or fabric can't spray-on clothing

I recently came across a new form of art. Or is it a new fashion statement? In some cases it’s both or just one. NewScientist reports on a process of spray-on clothing. You’ll need to watch the video to get a good idea of the process. There is a second one of an artist working with cellulose as well. The problem with cellulose is that it swells or gets slimy once water is introduced.

The spray-on clothing is a mixture of cotton fibers, polymers and solvents. I can’t find what those polymers or solvents are made of and if this would even be a good thing to put on bare skin very often. While the experimentation is ongoing and researchers see the possibility of medical usages, such as spray-on bandages, the aspects of fashion are quite limited.

First, you would have to go into a shop or have a friend spray your clothing on. Otherwise, everything would be backless. I imagine that spraying this stuff on to any length of body hair could be problematic with removal. Considering that we’re living in a nearly hairless body era, that might not be an issue. The material can be washed and re-worn but it looks pretty fragile in maintaining its shape. I also noticed that the women were small breasted overall for the application. Does that mean that dealing with larger curves for breasts or buttocks could be an issue of tension for the fabric? Not to mention, if your breasts aren’t perky, your top will sag.

The models were all very slim and trim. I think that spraying on a T-shirt over a large beer gut might just be a bit more than anyone wants to see. And what about pants? This material gives a whole new meaning to skin-tight and indeed nothing would be left to the imagination. What I’ve seen of the styles so far are pretty basic and seems to be used in a very basic T-shirt or tank top style, so style still needs to develop.

While spray-on fabric might be useful for scientific applications or one of a kind art displays, I can’t see it catching on yet for fashion. Not until they solve the form-fitting aspect. But in the future, perhaps when we’ve deforested so much of the earth that the remaining stands of trees are protected as oxygen sources, maybe we’ll be recycling every fiber and spraying on our loincloths (what with global warming and all) and dissolving them when we need a new one. It might be the way of the future but I think we’re stuck for a while yet with clothes that cover us up. Which gives us time to all get in shape so we look good when the inevitable happens.

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Arts, Culture and Politics

Stephen Harper made a statement that Canadians didn’t want to pay for artists to stand around at galas, which didn’t relate to the ordinary person. Here’s his lovely open-minded comment:

I think when ordinary working people come home, turn on the TV and see … a bunch of people … at a rich gala all subsidized by taxpayers claiming their subsidies aren’t high enough when they know those subsidies have actually gone up, I’m not sure that’s something that resonates with ordinary people.

So let’s see, ordinary people. Hmm, he’s saying artists aren’t ordinary. So who is: police, cashiers, neurosurgeons, unemployed street people? Just, who, Mr. Harper, is ordinary and who isn’t? We “artists,” writers, musicians, dancers, painters, sculptors, singers, actors, etc. aren’t ordinary. Hell, we float down from the clouds, perform our works and then go back to gilded halls of champions. We don’t need to buy food, pay rent, sleep or socialize. We’re aliens I guess, living in our special niches high on the rocks.

He even mentioned taxpayers. No body told me, that as an extraordinary artist person that I can actually not pay taxes. I’ll apply for that right away since I’m a taxpayer and an artist but I therefore can’t be ordinary. Oh and I go to galas every week, in my head maybe. Galas, puhleeze, Mr. Harper, get your facts straight and stop making sweeping generalizations. As a taxpayer, an ordinary person I very much want to see the culture of my country and not a carbon copy of the US’s culture. I want to have Canadian individuality.

The only “galas” I’ve ever gone to have been those I’ve paid for and usually at conventions. Granted I’m a small peas writer and not a big name singer or actor but all of those people have worked hard and long to get where they’re going. Should we never have a gala to recognize the best in their fields? Is this is what Harper is suggesting? Just how many galas are there? I bet there are fewer than the ones the politicians attend especially when they’re doing fundraising for their campaigns.

Art and culture consists of far more than watching TV, Mr. Harper. It involves plays, concerts, art for walls and halls and front lawns of government buildings. It involves things to read and things to look at, a break for the “ordinary person” from the dreariness or just plain hard work of a job. It provides entertainment and humor, and a release of tension. It provokes joy and sorrow with deeper thoughts and discourse into our everyday life. The pen is mightier than the sword for a reason.

Speaking of swords and other sports, if you subsidize athletes, artists of the body as much as dancers are, then why not subsidize the arts? It all falls under entertainment.  Many regimes through history have tried to muzzle their artists. The governments fear what the art may point fingers at. China is an example of some of the muzzling being done. But I’d say that Harper’s gang is trying to muzzle any arts they disapprove of and doesn’t represent the views they want put forward.

I have to go now and put on my subsidized ball gown so I can go to another subsidized artists’ gala that all those ordinary people are going to watch on TV but not care about. But one last point to Stephen Harper: perhaps if you didn’t slash funding to the arts and censor it, then you might have got a truly original speech all those years ago as opposed to having to use the Australian prime minister’s recycled speech. plagiarized

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