Category Archives: Photo Illustration

Behind the Scenes – Shadow Notes

This is a cover for Barking Rain Press. For this cover, the publisher wanted to stick with the blue and white color scheme, which plays a major role in the story. The author provided a few example covers of books with similar tones, which I used to get an idea of the design style: the style of scenery, the font and title placement, and the general mood of the cover.

This is the result:

Book Cover - Shadow Notes

Wraparound Book Cover - Shadow Notes

Stock images from Shutterstock:

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-351762476/stock-photo-lonely-woman-walking-in-the-park-with-trees-at-snowy-day-snowfall-in-park-with-lonely-walking.html

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-27596422/stock-photo-woman-with-psychic-pressure-in-a-corridor.html

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-44825947/stock-photo-walk-in-winter.html

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-156469889/stock-photo-frozen-land-in-winter-time.html

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Covers, Photo Illustration

Behind the Scenes – The Rovers

This is a cover for Melange Books. For this cover, the author already had an idea of what image he wanted used for both the front and back. However, the stock image we looked at initially was marked “editorial only,” so that one wasn’t available. However, we did find a similar photograph on the Library of Congress website that didn’t have any known restrictions, in part due to its age.

So, though it was black and white, I retouched the image and filled it in with color, along with sharpening the picture. (Ironically, while I retouched the back cover image as well, I removed the color from that one). We also found a free font that resembled the baseball logo of the referenced team. This was the result:

Book Cover - The Rovers

I changed the border a bit for the front and back of the print covers, due to the trim lines.

Book Cover - The Rovers - Print Edition

Back of Book Cover - The Rovers

 

Primary stock images from the Library of Congress: https://www.loc.gov/item/91725980

We had a modern-day image we considered using, but couldn’t due to licencing restrictions.

Post Card Border from The Dollar Photo Club (Now Closed)

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-quinn-abbey-image18602883 – Churchyard

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Covers, Client Work, Photo Illustration

Behind the Scenes – The Girl Who Flew Away

This is a cover for Barking Rain Press. The author had several ideas on their art form for how the cover might look, and they listed a few options for symbolism. After reading the form, I had an idea of the style I thought might work. I found the images (including the sketchy dragonflies, both the illustration and the creature referencing the book) and put together a mock-up. My initial mock-up had a different background, which included cliffs and a waterfall but didn’t really give the right feel in regards to setting. I sent another idea for the background, just the picture, along with the mock-up, and they asked to try it. This is the end result. 🙂

SBibb - The Girl Who Flew Away - Book Cover

SBibb - The Girl Who Flew Away - Wrap-Around Book Cover

Stock images from Shutterstock:

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=94726207

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=171422249

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=116280835

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=146807903

2 Comments

Filed under Book Covers, Client Work, Photo Illustration

Behind the Scenes – Beyond the Eyes – Cover Remake

This is a cover for Rebekkah Ford. For this cover, we redid a cover I created for her three years ago, back when I was trying to find willing authors to take a chance on me so I could build my portfolio (thank you!).

At the time, we came up with this:

SBibb - Beyond the Eyes Book Cover

SBibb - Beyond the Eyes - Wraparound Cover

The goal was to create something mysterious, with a bit of a taste of horror for her first YA paranormal. At the time, I took inspiration from the cover of Clockwork Angel, the cover art of which I adore.

However, this was an earlier cover of mine, so the font effects are a tad amateurish (and I hadn’t even justified the original back cover copy… which I later updated once I discovered that trick). Not only that, but the cover felt too much like a horror novel, and wasn’t attracting as many romance readers as it should (since this is definitely a paranormal romance).

So Rebekkah contacted me again a couple months ago to see about updating the covers for this series. She had a few stock images in mind, and after working through a few proofs and font placement, we came up with this remake for the first book:

SBibb - Beyond the Eyes Remake Cover

SBibb - Beyond the Eyes Remake Cover

(See how much better the back cover formatting looks after three more years of experience?)

The woman on the cover clearly resembles the main character, Paige, the shadow in the distance could easily be a sinister dark spirit (or a mysterious immortal), and the eerie forest distinctly fits a prominent setting of the story. I blurred the background to help make the model stand out, then flipped it for the back cover, and darkened the spine to make sure the words were readable. This cover should now attract paranormal romance readers. In addition, the straightforward text should attract a bit of an older audience (this series fits the upper YA/NA categories).

Personally, I like both covers, but having read the book, I suspect the new cover will attract more of the target audience.

You can find Beyond the Eyes on Goodreads.

Stock images from Shutterstock:

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=281147264

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=107037647

Read more from the author’s point of view:

http://rebekkahford.com/2015/09/25/two-mistakes-i-made-with-my-first-book-cover/

2 Comments

Filed under Book Covers, Client Work, Photo Illustration

Behind the Scenes – A Wolf Slayer Saga: Dragon Sword

This is a cover for Melange Books. Since we knew we had a sequel coming, we put a little more focus in setting up the basic structure of the cover… the wolf head at top, the series name on the side, and the placement of the title and author name. We also played with the mood, choosing the dark blue color for the forest and the red of the title to create a dramatic, dangerous tone. We chose a model with multiple poses, though I did a bit of photomanipulation to make him look more like how the character is described in the book. I also made both him and the wolf have a more noticeable scowl, and I played with the depth of field to put more of the emphasis on the model.

For the back cover I went with a simple leather texture to match the edge of the front cover with the series title. This is the end result:

SBibb - Dragon Sword - Book Cover

SBibb - Dragon Sword - Back Cover

Stock images from The Dollar Photo Club:

https://www.dollarphotoclub.com/64831097 – leather texture
https://www.dollarphotoclub.com/48895294 – wolf head
https://www.dollarphotoclub.com/59929394 – swordsman
https://www.dollarphotoclub.com/45294831 – snarling wolf
https://www.dollarphotoclub.com/58438380 – winter forest
https://www.dollarphotoclub.com/19521274 – wolf group

2 Comments

Filed under Book Covers, Photo Illustration

Behind the Scenes – Sojourn: The Deadlands

This is a cover for Melange Books. For this cover, we chose to keep the theme similar to the first book in the series, Sojourn: The Wildlands. To do this, we kept a few key elements: the two characters walking with their backs to the reader, a desolate landscape, similar placement of the title treatment and author name, along with the late evening lighting. Though we tried a couple different proofs before this, we found this one to have the strongest appeal.

This is the end result:

SBibb - Sojourn: The Deadlands - Book Cover

SBibb - Sojourn: The Deadlands - Back of Book Cover

Stock images from The Dollar Photo Club:

https://www.dollarphotoclub.com/84643064 – pink desert
https://www.dollarphotoclub.com/86018878 – cityscape
https://www.dollarphotoclub.com/61414729 – cracked desert sky
https://www.dollarphotoclub.com/78050476 – Desert in the distance
https://www.dollarphotoclub.com/77169647 – cracked desert texture
https://www.dollarphotoclub.com/52669985 – couple walking
https://www.dollarphotoclub.com/73794707 – man head
https://www.dollarphotoclub.com/13610115 – female head
https://www.dollarphotoclub.com/3514602 – fedora
https://www.dollarphotoclub.com/3059778 – cowboy hat
https://www.dollarphotoclub.com/85873155 – rust

6 Comments

Filed under Book Covers, Photo Illustration

Thoughts on Writing – Creating a Fantasy Map

I recently received my final beta-reader comments for Magic’s Stealing, and I’ve been making edits (I’ll be doing a cover reveal soon!), but today I’m going to focus on one of the ideas that the beta-reader suggested, which was to include a map of the region.

A lot of fantasy stories include a map of some sort as a way to help readers envision the layout of the land, or the city where the story is taking place. Maps can be used to enhance the feeling of the story (seriously, take a look at the map of Middle Earth) and one article I read suggested that a well-drawn map, which includes elements of the story, can make the world feel more real. It’s sort of like having an artifact from the world itself.

I’ve debated before on including a map, but I originally put the idea aside because I wasn’t sure if I could make it look professional, and also because I didn’t want to lock down the distances before I finished the series.

Then my husband pointed out, having a map would be a good tool for future reference. Not only that, but I wouldn’t have to include it in the first edition of the ebook. I could wait until I release the print edition, then update the ebook at that time.

Anyway, let’s take a look at the steps I’m taking to create the map. I have a rough guide. When I wrote the first draft of this story twelve years ago, I also drew a map in Paint. It’s horribly inaccurate

The estate where Toranih lives probably shouldn’t be as large as the capital city of Cirena. The Cantingen Islands probably shouldn’t be quite so tiny. And there are plenty of other problems.

SBibb - Old Cirena Map

Original map… made many years ago

My husband suggested that I start by writing down the places referenced in the story, then taking note of their directions and the amount of time it takes to travel from one place to get to another, as mentioned in the story.

So I went through Magic’s Stealing and searched for key phrases related to traveling. Minute, hour, road, travel, east, west… etc. I didn’t include directions within buildings, such as going downstairs. Just the kingdom and the cities.

This is what I found in Magic’s Stealing through a basic search.

Fifteen minutes later, Toranih reached the place of the healers. (From the seer’s cottage, jogging)

 

In minutes they had left the square behind and pounded into the lower city. (Riding hard on horseback)

 

“We’re two hours from Viyna. A guard could stop here, and we’d be reasonably undercover…” (At the mountain forge, riding on horseback, not rushing)

 

They fled into the heavy rain, mud spattering them on the road to Viyna. (From the Covonilayno estate)

 

…and then stormed through yet another portal into the temple in the northern district of Ashan. (Directions within a large city)

 

The girl was cold and shadowy, colder than the northern village of Reveratch. (Region layout)

 

“Go to the northern tunnel. Tell Cafrash to send more of his shadows into the city…” (Directions of a tunnel)

 

“This is it. Sid-Dreh.”//“What’s Sid-Dreh?”//Siklana pushed Toranih out of the way and squinted at the plaque. “South and west, respectively…” (Cardinal directions in Old Cirenan)

 

…but many of them used the communal oven in the marketplace that had developed in the eastern side of the city. (Layout of Viyna)

 

The marketplace brimmed with travelers from Ashan, the eastern port. (Region directions)

 

The ribbons streamed into the sky, a dazzling array of colors, then fled East, away from the city in a glaring river. (Direction the magic is stolen, from Viyna to the mountain forge)

 

“…If the Trickster branches into the Islands or crosses the sea to the eastern lands, there is no telling how quickly he could rise.” (Region layout)

 

Ferta was several days out, even by carriage. (Regional layout)

 

“…When I’m at the academy, I practice in the forest outside of the city walls.” (Reference to Cirena City)

While I may not want to draw out the tunnels on the main map, having a map may make the tunnels be a little more understandable. At this point, though, I’m seeing potential for some interesting back story. How far out do these tunnels actually extend? As you’ll see in a bit, the distances between cities and towns is much greater than the original map suggests. Do the tunnels extend to other cities? Are there towns or dwellings I haven’t mentioned before? Or do they open in the middle of nowhere?

Anyway, instead of trying to mark out the full range of a city or estate, I’m considering following the lead of a few other maps I looked at, which use a basic symbol to designate the location of a city or important landmark. In order to figure out the rough scale, I’ll need to look up the average travel times of riding horseback or walking, and then place my locations based on that scale.

According to this site: http://www.lrgaf.org/guide/writers-guide.htm horses can walk 3-5 miles per hour, trot 8-10 miles per hour, canter at 15 miles per hour, or gallop at 25-30 miles per hour. Now, keeping in mind that weather, type of horse, and condition of horse will effect speed, let’s go with the idea that we’re talking about a horse with decent stamina and who hasn’t been tired from a lot of riding. And let’s go with the idea that the roads in Cirena are of decent quality, and the map is counting on non-rainy days. A general internet search suggests that a fit person can walk 4 miles in an hour (or 1 mile every fifteen minutes), on relatively flat terrain.

So… now that we’ve got some numbers, let’s look back at the descriptions pulled from the story.

Fifteen minutes later, Toranih reached the place of the healers.

In this scene, Toranih is jogging/quickly walking to the temple. She is in reasonably good physical condition, as she’s trying to train to be a guardsman. I had a hard time finding a single average for jogging, so let’s just say that she’s walking. In this case, she walked a mile to reach the temple from the seer’s cottage. If the temple is supposed to be relatively central in the city, then Viyna may be a couple miles wide.

In minutes they had left the square behind and pounded into the lower city.

The characters are riding hard in this scene, but they are likely cantering instead of galloping due to street layout and rain. At the quoted 15 miles per hour, a quarter of a mile per minute, and let’s say 4 minutes, then they have traveled 1 mile from the courthouse to the lower city.

“We’re two hours from Viyna. A guard could stop here, and we’d be reasonably undercover…”

Here, the characters reached the mountain forge by riding on horseback. They took it easy, probably walking or trotting, which puts us at 3-10 miles per hour. Let’s say they traveled at an average of 5 miles per hour. The mountain forge would be roughly 10 miles from Viyna, or if they had cars and a 60 mph speed limit, ten minutes to drive. Picture someplace that takes you ten minutes to drive to on the highway, and now you have the rough distance. (And the kingdom suddenly feels much smaller).

It was going to be a long week (of traveling through the wood).//Scene break//After a full day of assuring her sister that not only were bandits rare in this forest, but she was protected by two mages and– ahem– a well-aimed knife thrower, Toranih finally led Starlight to the forest edge. The dusty road from Viyna to Ashan wound its way in the distance around the edge of the forest. Though the road was smoother, the route jogged several miles north and was usually filled with travelers, adding almost a week to the trip when a couple days of hard riding through the forest would do.

They’re in a hurry to get through the woods, but it’s been raining and they’re somewhat tired. Let’s say their pace averages a fast walk, at five miles per hour, for seven hours of the day. That’s 35 miles a day, or 175 miles after five days of traveling. According to the narration, the road between Viyna and Ashan that avoids the forest adds a day to the trip, whereas hard riding (when possible), gets them quickly through the forest. Say ‘hard riding’ is 7 hours a day (based on 7.5 hours I read somewhere on the internet…which I don’t remember where now and may not be all that accurate) at 10 miles per hour due to rough terrain, so that would be 70 miles per day, or 140 miles in two days.

If they took the road directly from Viyna to Ashan, instead, then they would be walking 7 hours a day, 4 miles per hour, and let’s go with a full seven days, approximately 196 miles. Granted, if they stop to rest one or two of those days, and that’s been taken into account, then the distance isn’t quite as great.

But I went ahead and plugged 196 miles into Google Maps to get a comparative distance with a road I’m used to traveling, and eeps.

Ranging from 140 to 200 miles wide, that forest is much larger than what I was picturing.

This is why having a scaled map is a useful tool for world building. Even if you don’t give the readers the actual scale, you can figure out relative distances without having them wobbling all over the place.

So, for my test run, let’s say that this forest is 140 miles. I picture the edge of the forest not being too far from Viyna, maybe a quarter mile, and maybe a couple miles from Ashan. For the Cantingen Islands (which are mentioned in the second book as being ‘near’ to Ashan but without a more concrete detail), I went to look at the distances from other islands to a mainland. Miami, Florida, to Bailey Town, Bahamas, is about 55 miles out, according to Google Maps and a trusty ruler.

Let’s say the Cantingen Islands are 60 miles from Ashan.

Now, let’s look at another city…

Ferta was several days out, even by carriage.

Horses trot at 8-10 miles per hour, and I read that a pair of horses pulling a carriage would move faster than the average horse alone, so let’s go with 10 miles per hour. Then 8 hours of riding for 4-5 days, we’re looking at around 320 to 400 miles away.

It doesn’t even fit on my initial map attempt.

SBibb - Cirena Map Test Run

Then my husband reminded me that people rarely travel in straight lines. There’s hills, glades, rivers, lakes, avoiding certain unfriendly estates, resting the horses… a number of things that could increase the time, but not the distance.

So I took my current references, redrew a map that actually includes geography, replaced the cities with the scale as a general guide, not rule, and now I plan to check the narration to revise for the updated travel times (or have them be a little more accurate, anyway). I don’t plan for this to be the final version (since it’s missing a few cities and roads), and I probably won’t put this in the ebook.

But it should make a lot more sense than the original version–other than the fact that this map has the mountain forge at 90 miles away from Viyna, which doesn’t exactly work for the story.

Oh, well. It’s a starting point.

SBibb - Cirena Map Updated

I hope you enjoyed this post. 🙂

Have you ever tried making a fantasy map? What difficulties have you run into?

4 Comments

Filed under Photo Illustration, Writing