Sci-Fi Novella Cover Design Contest (WIP Thread) - A.E. McCullough

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Comments

  • aemcculloughaemccullough Posts: 412
    edited September 2012

    Wow, you sound like me. I am working on an epic fantasy series myself. I had to put it on the "back burner" to work on my kids iBook I will be publishing in a month as a way to get my name out there when I finally publish my first fantasy novel next year. I also have a sci-fi trilogy in the works but that won't be finished for another year or 2.

    About this contest. Maybe there are others who have read this thread and are diligently working on their cover and have just not said anything. Over 600 people have viewed this thread. At least 50 of those are considering the challenge. Remember, its officially over Sept. 16 so there is plenty of time for others to enter.

    Jake...the only advice I can give you about self-publishing is this.....take a deep breathe and jump in with both feet.
    It took me 16 years to complete my 1st novel and take the plunge on getting it published. Is it perfect? Nope...but I did it in June 2011. Then, in Dec 2011 I published my 2nd novel and March 2012 my 3rd. I learn with each one.
    And if everything goes perfect, I'll publish 'The Last Spartan: DJ's Mission' the first of October.

    Right now, I have only been publishing on Amazon and using Createspace for my print versions. Personally, I'm pleased with both venues atm. I might break out and try B&N and Smashwords but as a reader...when I'm looking for a book, I head to Amazon. They are the largest bookseller in the word after all. My sales are decent on my Epic Fantasy novels, but that could be the covers also....they aren't the greatest but then, I didn't know about DAZ at the time and was publishing on a shoestring budget. Here they are....they work, but that's just about it. As you can see, side-by-side they form one wolf. It is something I like about them but I don't think they are 'eye-cathing' enough.

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  • Jake__RusselJake__Russel Posts: 0
    edited September 2012

    Jake...the only advice I can give you about self-publishing is this.....take a deep breathe and jump in with both feet.
    It took me 16 years to complete my 1st novel and take the plunge on getting it published. Is it perfect? Nope...but I did it in June 2011. Then, in Dec 2011 I published my 2nd novel and March 2012 my 3rd. I learn with each one.
    And if everything goes perfect, I'll publish 'The Last Spartan: DJ's Mission' the first of October.

    Right now, I have only been publishing on Amazon and using Createspace for my print versions. Personally, I'm pleased with both venues atm. I might break out and try B&N and Smashwords but as a reader...when I'm looking for a book, I head to Amazon. They are the largest bookseller in the word after all. My sales are decent on my Epic Fantasy novels, but that could be the covers also....they aren't the greatest but then, I didn't know about DAZ at the time and was publishing on a shoestring budget. Here they are....they work, but that's just about it. As you can see, side-by-side they form one wolf. It is something I like about them but I don't think they are 'eye-cathing' enough.

    Like I said when you first introduced your book cover, I think simplicity has a stronger impact than a complicated cover. Look at Twilight's cover art. Its very simple but extremely memorable. I think the wolf idea IS eye-catching. The blueish fur with the bright yellowish eyes is a perfect balance. At the least, it makes you wonder what its about. I personally really like covers that when you put them together, they make a bigger picture. I'm a little jealous of novels that can pull this off.

    But about the book publishing: I am totally new to it. The reason why I am using iTunes/iBooks is because it is easier to publish books there. I don't know a lot of programming with epub so using some programs on my iPad to make the book allows me to do that. Also, I am making a fixed layout read-aloud kids book with word-by-word narration which is not possible yet on Amazon's Kindle or Nook readers. Apple is pioneering this new book format and B&N and Amazon are scrambling to incorporate it in. I agree that Amazon is the place to be for book selling and buying, but since I'm an Apple fan, I think Apple is very innovative and will catch up to Amazon soon.

    My fantasy series has taken me 10 years to write (because it took me 4 years just to research on how to write one). I may be a dreamer, but I'm trying to write an epic fantasy to dethrone Lord of the Rings and I spend years researching every cliche and subverting or reversing them in my series to make a very unique story (everyone hates elves and orcs, etc). Even though I am at my final stages with book 1, book 2-7 seem far away. I'm working little by little but the dream of being a published author of a full novel is still a little far away.

    Post edited by Jake__Russel on
  • Jake__RusselJake__Russel Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    I would like to participate but I am not skilled enough yet. Plus I have several difficult college exams in September, so I have to concentrate on them and not fiddle with 3D. But I wish A. E. best luck with the book and the contest and I will be silently following this thread. I am curious who will win.

    I understand what you mean. When I was in school, I used to save money and buy Daz stuff and try to fit in time to use it. My very first program was Bryce and then Poser 4. I found a way to use these programs for projects in school like powerpoint presentations, etc. Now I am finding new ways to use these programs, like illustrations for my kids book.

  • Marty DMarty D Posts: 0
    edited September 2012

    Hello A.E. Thought I'd give this project a try. Thanks for the inspiration.

    edit 2: This is a not final submission.

    cte 700x1000

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  • JaderailJaderail Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    I'm not going to join in the fun and try to do a cover for this one. I can give a few tips if you decide to do another cover challenge because I've seen lots of these. What you have done by a description of the character and snips from the book/books are very good and help the artist greatly. Most of these type of challenges I've seen go one step farther, they provide a few pages from the book that the author would like to see as the scene for the cover. That puts all the artist on the same footing and you get to see how different people SEE and render that part of your work. Just a Idea.

    I think you are getting some great stuff by the way. I'm lurking and enjoying.

  • aemcculloughaemccullough Posts: 412
    edited September 2012

    Jaderail said:
    I'm not going to join in the fun and try to do a cover for this one. I can give a few tips if you decide to do another cover challenge because I've seen lots of these. What you have done by a description of the character and snips from the book/books are very good and help the artist greatly. Most of these type of challenges I've seen go one step farther, they provide a few pages from the book that the author would like to see as the scene for the cover. That puts all the artist on the same footing and you get to see how different people SEE and render that part of your work. Just a Idea.

    I think you are getting some great stuff by the way. I'm lurking and enjoying.

    Thanks for the insight Jaderail.....I have enjoyed watching the entries myself and looking forward to seeing more. I will try that on my next cover contest. Already working on it.....but now I have more info -- which is always a good thing :-)

    Post edited by aemccullough on
  • Jake__RusselJake__Russel Posts: 0
    edited September 2012

    WORK IN PROGRESS (NOT FINAL IMAGE)

    I think this is probably the how the final image will look. I am a perfectionist so there are little things I will fix as I spot them. I still need to add gun shot flare, need to fix her hair a little, and minor things like that. I am basically finished, but I am not ready to actually lock down a final version yet. Almost finished with the group image I promised I would do. I think I got the Jagger Jax you described with the tattoos.

    I have a question, are you wanting the cover to have the Red Falcon suit as the main focus or the actual characters (or DJ) as the cover's focus? Also, the above cover by Marty D is really good and I was thinking about adding DJ's daughter in the cover as well. Is your story more of a drama or an action story because if its a drama, I would need to make it more "relationship" focused rather than "action adventure" looking on the cover.

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  • Jake__RusselJake__Russel Posts: 0
    edited September 2012

    I just re-read your summary for your story and I think I will work on one more cover idea with DJ and his daughter running from saturn police. I think this is probably the true focus of the story (I am guessing). But you will get to choose the cover you want because I will submit five.

    1. Red falcon suit as focus
    2. DJ (no suit) as the focus
    3. DJ and El Gato as focus
    4. DJ, Jagger Jax and El Gato as a team as focus
    5. DJ (in suit) and his daughter running from police as focus

    Post edited by Jake__Russel on
  • Proxima ShiningProxima Shining Posts: 1,001
    edited December 1969

    Marty D said:
    Hello A.E. Thought I'd give this project a try. Thanks for the inspiration.

    edit: This is a final submission.

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    Very cool action in your cover, Marty D! I like this one best so far, right after CNSamson´s (no offense to anyone, other pictures posted here are also very nice). I think it goes well with what the author posted here about his story. Just the font you chose for the title could be different - this one looks too TimesNewRoman-ish to me. If I should consider both picture AND font, then CNSamson´s cover would be better.

  • Jake__RusselJake__Russel Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    For those who are wondering what the characters look like, I talked with A.E. and this is the complete overview of how the main characters look. (Correct me A.E. if I misunderstood anything)


    So DJ is:
    -Sandy brown hair
    -No facial hair
    -Professional and normal looking
    -Broad-shouldered
    -Retired but Mid 30's
    -Has a slight belly
    -Round friendly face, no facial hair.
    -In some kind of uniform
    -Eagle tattoo on left shoulder


    Jagger Jax:
    -Dark hair
    -Bald
    -Very big (massive shoulders and arms)
    -Tribal tattoo sleeve
    -black synth-leather outfit
    -Mustach and gottee


    El Gato:
    -Blond hair (but can be any color)
    -Skin tight suit
    -Friend of DJ

  • aemcculloughaemccullough Posts: 412
    edited December 1969

    Just the font you chose for the title could be different - this one looks too TimesNewRoman-ish to me.

    Marty D -- I agree with Proxima on the Title & Font -- although those are not completely necessary for the contest. I am reasonably skilled with Photoshop when it comes to titles.
    As I stated earlier, cover art MAY BE submitted without Title & Author.
    Either way....thanks for submitting and good luck.

  • Marty DMarty D Posts: 0
    edited December 1969


    Thanks PS. Ok. I can redo the font. The first cover had the Times Roman and since you are Sparta I just went with that. I'll post the image in a while.

  • Proxima ShiningProxima Shining Posts: 1,001
    edited December 1969

    Hi Jake__Russel. I see a minor problem with your cover in the last post - those red letters on reddish background are not very good visible, especially the undertitle DJ´S mission. Maybe a tad darker shade of red for the undertitle would be better.

    Also, DJ looks a bit hunchbacked in this but I can´t say exactly why. His shoulders ARE on the same level when I look at it closely, his back is allright as well, so there should not be any reason why I should be seeing it. Yet despite that I still have this impression everytime I look at him. Maybe it ´s how his head is positioned? Because in the group picture he seems fine. Is anyone else seeing this also, or is it just the half-blind me?

  • Jake__RusselJake__Russel Posts: 0
    edited September 2012

    Hi Jake__Russel. I see a minor problem with your cover in the last post - those red letters on reddish background are not very good visible, especially the undertitle DJ´S mission. Maybe a tad darker shade of red for the undertitle would be better.

    Also, DJ looks a bit hunchbacked in this but I can´t say exactly why. His shoulders ARE on the same level when I look at it closely, his back is allright as well, so there should not be any reason why I should be seeing it. Yet despite that I still have this impression everytime I look at him. Maybe it ´s how his head is positioned? Because in the group picture he seems fine. Is anyone else seeing this also, or is it just the half-blind me?

    Thanks for the critique. I tend to miss things others see. This is the reason why I won't say any of my images are "final" until people actually look over them a little. I think I see the "hump back" issue. His shoulders are up ( on the image with him standing erect) pushing his neck muscles up. (I can fix that with the liquify tool in photoshop). But the other two images with DJ, he is "hunched" over a little because he is leaning foreword. But I do want feed back from others about this.

    Question:
    -Does the border make the cover too busy? Most Sci-fi books don't have a border with a pattern so should it just be black or completely get rid of it?
    -Should the title be more plain or is it okay (is there too much red)?

    Post edited by Jake__Russel on
  • Marty DMarty D Posts: 0
    edited September 2012

    Thanks for the above critiques, they were obviously right after taking a second look. Here's an updated version with new lettering and some other fixes. Hope it will work. There's also a version without any lettering to use for different type styles.

    This is not a final version.

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  • Jake__RusselJake__Russel Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    Marty D said:
    Thanks for the above critiques, they were obviously right after taking a second look. Here's an updated version with new lettering and some other fixes. Hope it will work. There's also a version without any lettering to use for different type styles.

    This is the final version for this image.


    Marty D, got one more tip for the title. The angle of the character where it looks like he is falling or flying is great. I have a good idea to give your title some "lift". Try tilting the title parallel to DJ's arm. Look at this example below. It would be even cooler if the title "flys" with DJ's across the cover.

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  • Marty DMarty D Posts: 0
    edited September 2012

    Pulp fiction. Hmm. But is it logical.

    Thanks very much for the suggestion. My resources are just about at their limit, but, well, one more try.

    This font kind of reminds me of Blade Runner, but not really. The effect is accidental, more or less. You know how you always go through the blending modes every time you add a layer. At any rate, it does isolate the background.

    This is not a final image.

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    Post edited by Marty D on
  • JaderailJaderail Posts: 0
    edited September 2012

    Marty D said:
    Pulp fiction. Hmm. But is it logical.

    Thanks very much for the suggestion. My resources are just about at their limit, but, well, one more try.

    This font kind of reminds me of Blade Runner, but not really. The effect is accidental, more or less. You know how you always go through the blending modes every time you add a layer. At any rate, it does isolate the background.

    This is a final image.

    Oh.. nice. Do you by any chance have the figures as a single layer? If you did I would love to see this with the gun overlayed on the title.

    Post edited by Jaderail on
  • Jake__RusselJake__Russel Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    Marty D said:
    Pulp fiction. Hmm. But is it logical.

    Thanks very much for the suggestion. My resources are just about at their limit, but, well, one more try.

    This font kind of reminds me of Blade Runner, but not really. The effect is accidental, more or less. You know how you always go through the blending modes every time you add a layer. At any rate, it does isolate the background.

    This is a final image.

    Hey, thats actually cool to me! Its so boring to have plain white letters. All books do that. Might as well try something different. But like you said, its probably not logical to go that way because his story is not like that. Its very serious from what I understand. I want to buy his book and I will see if I can use the Kindle app on my iPad to buy it.

  • Jake__RusselJake__Russel Posts: 0
    edited September 2012

    WORK IN PROGRESS (NOT FINAL IMAGE)

    I am finished with the other three covers but I am still working on this one. Trying to find a better background. I hope I got the tattoos right. I am currently working on the 5th cover with DJ's Daughter on it.

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  • Marty DMarty D Posts: 0
    edited September 2012

    Thanks Jaderail. Yes lots of layers. Another view below. Very interesting.

    Jake__Russel, it would be helpful to read the book wouldn't it. Is it pulp, is it Arthur C Clarke - probably not -, is it tragedy? Form the clips A.E. has posted the book sounds a lot like an adventure more than anything so you're probably right about the colorful cover. I do really like the planet icon you have in your title. Very elegant.

    edit: This is not a final image.

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  • aemcculloughaemccullough Posts: 412
    edited December 1969

    Marty D said:
    Thanks Jaderail. Yes lots of layers. Another view below. Very interesting.

    Jake__Russel, it would be helpful to read the book wouldn't it. Is it pulp, is it Arthur C Clarke - probably not -, is it tragedy? Form the clips A.E. has posted the book sounds a lot like an adventure more than anything so you're probably right about the colorful cover. I do really like the planet icon you have in your title. Very elegant.


    Marty D -- I'm liking the covers...good job on the change up to the title. Much better. Personally, I like the one with the gun behind the title (easier to read I think). But those are minor details that can be 'ironed' out.

    Jake (and others) -- yes, this story would be classified Sci-Fi Adventure. Since the novella isn't completely finished...it still needs editing and I recently found a flaw in it that is taking a major rewrite to fix, so it really isn't ready for publication. But its closer every day.
    Since this is my first go around for a 'Cover Contest' I realize that I've made some mistakes. However, I've been making notes on how to fix it for the next contest. I think it would be beneficial for me to post the 1st half or third of the novel for the competing artists to get a feel for the characters and the basic storyline. Not sure how or where to do that yet but rest assured, I will figure it out before the next contest.

    Thanks for all the submissions -- WIP and others. My wife and I are impressed. I will be setting up the 'Final Rendering' thread hopefully over this weekend and adding the poll. I need to get with one of the forum admin types to help me set it up :-)

  • JaderailJaderail Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    I do agree, The behind works better. I did not think the gun would cover that much of the lettering. It was just an Idea.

    I am happy to see that your happy. I'm still loving all the renders.

    P.S. I'm a 3D art addict. I just love 3D art.

  • Jake__RusselJake__Russel Posts: 0
    edited September 2012

    WORK IN PROGRESS (NOT FINAL IMAGE)

    Now I am approaching the end of this image. I love using Rons Rain brushes. I always try to find an image I can use it on. This image is basically finished (plus minor elements I am still working on) but I am saving the high res version (1400x2000) for the contest thread that is promised to be up sometime soon.

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  • Eustace ScrubbEustace Scrubb Posts: 1,364
    edited December 1969

    All ideas, no time! And it looks like some pretty stiff competition!

  • aemcculloughaemccullough Posts: 412
    edited December 1969

    WORK IN PROGRESS (NOT FINAL IMAGE)

    Now I am approaching the end of this image. I love using Rons Rain brushes. I always try to find an image I can use it on. This image is basically finished (plus minor elements I am still working on) but I am saving the high res version (1400x2000) for the contest thread that is promised to be up sometime soon.

    I'm curious Jake...what program are you using?
    I picked up Ron's Explosions for a cover idea I had using DAZ and Photoshop...but put it on the proverbial back burner in lieu of this contest.

  • Jake__RusselJake__Russel Posts: 0
    edited September 2012

    WORK IN PROGRESS (NOT FINAL IMAGE)

    Now I am approaching the end of this image. I love using Rons Rain brushes. I always try to find an image I can use it on. This image is basically finished (plus minor elements I am still working on) but I am saving the high res version (1400x2000) for the contest thread that is promised to be up sometime soon.

    I'm curious Jake...what program are you using?
    I picked up Ron's Explosions for a cover idea I had using DAZ and Photoshop...but put it on the proverbial back burner in lieu of this contest.

    I'm a true Daz fan. I only use what comes from Daz3D.com. I am using Daz Studio 4 (haven't switched to 4.5 yet), Reality 2.1plug in (since I struggle to set up lighting using Daz studio), and of course Photoshop CS4. I am an amateur and actually don't even know how to model my own models yet even though I own Lightwave, ZBrush, Cinema 4D, Maya 2010, and others. I wanted to use e-on Vue for a space scene but I am not skilled enough yet to use it.

    I have bought just about all of Ron's brushes. I am a little disappointed with Ron's explosions. They have black trim around some of the flames and debris which don't look too good against a light background. But I used the burst .psd for the gun fire on the above images which worked out very well. The rain brush is my favorite. I can't find enough images to use it in. But I know not to overuse it so I will just have that one image with rain.

    And I too have put my project I was working on, on hold for this contest.

    Post edited by Jake__Russel on
  • Jake__RusselJake__Russel Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    WORK IN PROGRESS

    Here is my final cover. It needs a little more rendering time to get it sharper. I am thinking on Photoshoping laser sights all pointing on DJ or just leave the flashlights on DJ.

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  • Proxima ShiningProxima Shining Posts: 1,001
    edited December 1969

    Very cool, action-packed cover, Jake__Russel! And DJ´s red suit goes very well with the red book title. I like it how your cover has a border, it looks very stylish, and the weapon aiming at DJ from behind the border looks cool.

    I would maybe take away one or two of the sheriffs to the right, I think there are too many of them and it makes the image look a bit overcrowded.

    Also, isn´t DJ´s daughter a bit small? I thought she was 12 years old (as A. E. mentioned in the other thread), here she looks about half that age. She reminds me of my 6 years old niece, who is about this tall, and is considered to be rather short for her age.

  • Marty DMarty D Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    WORK IN PROGRESS (NOT FINAL IMAGE)

    Now I am approaching the end of this image. I love using Rons Rain brushes. I always try to find an image I can use it on. This image is basically finished (plus minor elements I am still working on) but I am saving the high res version (1400x2000) for the contest thread that is promised to be up sometime soon.

    1400x2000? Is this for print too. Wow, ok, have to go back again put that together ...

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