Monday, June 14, 2010


At last! My cover for LADY WICKED! The wonderful artist is Tina Lynn, who I was so pleased allowed me a lot of input into the design, even to picking the background and cover hero and heroine. This can never be perfect, of course, especially for historicals, because artists these days are limited to what royalty-free photos they can purchase and alter to fit. Adding costume details is something very few artists are willing or able to do, which is probably why you see so many semi-nude people on ebook historical covers. And the lipstick? Sorry, no self-respecting model these days would be willing to be photographed without it. I've painted out eye shadow before, but lipstick is just a nightmare to even try.

I don't have a pub date yet but that will be coming soon, and I hope will be before the end of the year.

So did you ever wonder what goes into a cover design? Well, I'll show you a few of the elements. I don't happen to have purchased but one of these in this photo, though, so I'll show you a different couple, who we couldn't use for other contractual reasons (but the photo is royalty-free and paid for, so don't worry).

In this cover design, the man and woman came from different photos, and had to be matched together, the woman flipped horizontally so they both were lit from the same side. She had on a very modern gorgeous red low cut strapless, which of course had to go. His lighting was much too bright for hers, so he had to be darkened. And shadows had to be added all around. Her photo was much like this one of the couple, so dark it was hard to tell her hair from the background. Of course, all that background in the portrait photos had to be removed, carefully so the poor heroine's hair didn't go with it.

I had fallen in love with this stone staircase a long time before, even though it is probably from a cathedral on the European Continent. I love the light, airy look, the subtle colors. But that wouldn't work for a dark medieval hall. You would never find such intricate and elegant stonework in the fairly simple, pragmatic medieval hall in my book- I know that. But by hiding a lot of the architectural detail but keeping the curved stairs leading to that mysterious door, it incorporates the same spirit as the bell tower in my story. In darkening, it lost the subtle coloring I love, so we added this radial gradient color glaze. It's not opaque, as it is here, and can be faded out, erased in places, or extra darkening shadows in others as needed. Tina is more conservative than I am-- I am just plain flagrant when it comes to color. She kept just the hint of color.

The fonts make up an entirely new layer. I don't have Tina's work on this, but I'm showing you a sample in a similar font with a simpler but similar effect. She and I don't have the same font adjusting software. I put it against a mottled green background so you can see how the shadowing gives it dimension.

So when you finally have all these elements just the way you want them, the layers are all merged into one design. You always keep a copy of the separate layers, though, because chances are excellent that when it's all assembled, suddenly something will pop out at you and say, "Lookee here! Glaring ERROR!" No, I don't think I ever did any cover that I didn't have to back up and fix something.

So, you just thought covers were just painted? Not anymore! These are just the basics. There are eyes to be painted green, sometimes hair to be changed. There could be a sword to add, perhaps a swath of tartan- but not this time. Making a book cover is an intriguing art.


  1. Beautiful cover. Very interesting article on design.

  2. Thanks, Angelique! As a cover artist, I find I see things differently than I see them as an author, but it's often a disadvantage when dealing with another artist. Fortunately Tina has been very understanding in getting me the kind of cover I really wanted.

    Most people still think the artist paints everything, I think. But let's face it, that kind of labor-intensive work just isn't affordable with today's books. But contemporary photos present enormous challenges for artists who are trying to do historical covers. Making a variety of styles and lighting meld together can be a huge challenge, too.

  3. That's a great cover, Delle! I can see the elements that came from your original design and I like that they've kept them (the way he's looking only at her and she's looking elsewhere, plus the look on her face). Love the colors too, very nice. I'm glad you got your cover. *grin*

  4. Fascinating, Delle. Thanks for posting this.

  5. Glad you like it, Susan. Yes, that's what I liked about her. She's looking somewhere else, yet sort of coming closer to looking in his direction. Very ambivalent.

    And thanks Barbara. Covers are fun-- or they're nightmares. The worst possible cover is one that says the book is boring.

  6. Delle, it's gorgeous!

  7. Cover lovin' is the best :) It's beautiful!

  8. Lovely cover, Delle, and I love seeing how all the components work together.

  9. Thanks, Mary Lou, Jessa and Janet.

  10. Delle, what an interesting process! I had no idea the many steps that is required to create a cover. And what a lovely cover! The hint of colors here and there gives it a subtle, gleaming radiance. The stone staircase provides an intriguing backdrop for the historical setting. You are so fortunate to have an artist who incorporated this unique piece of architecture into your design. What an evocative ambiance! Your cover is certain to sell many books!!!

  11. Delle, I love your cover, and learning about all the elements was extra fun!

  12. That was a great and interesting blog about covers. Liked your comment about the models and lipstick. Great cover. Anxious to see about the release date.

  13. Delle,
    Lovely cover. Does Tina have a website or gallery for her work if others are interested? Thanks


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