Friday, 8 September 2017

Head Shot - Cover Design

I have a dozen or so short stories that are long out of print and decided to make them available for free via Smashwords. Each time I upload one I will write something about them. Head Shot is too short to talk about plot or idea without spoiling the whole tale and so I thought I would talk about cover design.

I am doing all my own cover design because I thought it would be fun and force me to do more graphical work, which I've been failing to do lately. I would advise against doing it yourself if you have never done anything like this before. It's not brain surgery admittedly, but it is easy to go thoroughly wrong and it would be terrible to burden a great tale with less than great art. My story is OK so OK art is fine, or at least I hope both are OK. And I have created covers for magazines and books before.

Head Shot is one of my horror stories and I decided all my horror tales would have stark simple covers. It is also set in the future so I was thinking something sterile and crisp. I ended up with two images very quickly.

The images were created in Inkscape, a free vector graphics tool. It has a brilliant 'clone' option where you can make one shape, or group of shapes, then create multiple copies. I created my head and shoulders from a few simple forms, merged them then set about them with the clone tool. The handy thing about this option is that if you change the original all change.

My other horror covers are black and white. Here I needed one figure to stand out from the crowd. A cliche cross-hair idea to pick out one 'target' came to mind and was quashed. Colour was my only option left hence the introduction of red to make one 'person' stand out. The red text worked linking the title to the single figure. Since the cloning method would change all the heads to red I had to copy a head then align it before changing the colour.

I also toyed with removing one of the figures, but the story was not about a missing man. Inkscape uses layers and this let me put different parts of the image on different layers allowing me to switch on and off items to see what the effect was like. I kept coming back to the two images above.

Which did I pick?

The single red head-and-shoulders. It seemed to me punchier especially since there are only two characters in the story and neither of them is ever in a crowd.

Which would you have picked?

If you want to now how I created the head and shoulders or more about the cloning option in Inkscape let me know. By the way in my links is a much more skilled Inkscape user.

Useful Links

Inkscape - a great free vector graphics tool. Works on linux, Macs and Windows
Smashwords - a self-publishing website, which gives access to many markets.
Logos by Nick - A very skilled logo designer who uses Inkscape. His YouTube tutorials are comprehensive though can be daunting since he covers everything in detail. Don't be put off.
Nick Saporito's You Tube Videos
If you're interested you can check out my other covers here.