Monday, August 29, 2011

Optical illusions and Book Covers

Hey all, over the weekend, the worst kept secret on the internet was made public, Andrew Leon announced the release of The House on the Corner: First Person Edition.

And it was great for me because several months ago when I asked if anyone needed some help with covers for their books to let me know, he was the first to ask.

I know I've talked about covers some in the past, and I don't really want to go all goofy talking about them again. The goal of any cover is to make someone pick up your book (or click on it) after they get that first glance.

That's it. Sometimes an ass ugly cover is perfect if it makes you pick it up and look at the book. I've been known to take pictures of books when I fall in love with the cover (I could look them up online, but it's easier for me to just snap a pic with my phone - then I don't have to do anything else later to try to remember).


So, when Andrew gave me a synopsis of this book, and the first few chapters, I thought of the perfect book cover - but I thought  there might be some legal issues if I sent him the movie poster for Monster House with existing title scratched out and his written over the top. So,I had no intention of copying the movie poster. But I did think it felt right for the book he was writing. So I emailed him and asked if that  was the 'vibe' he was looking for.

A quick yes and I was off to brainstorm. I initially thought I would do the cover using a photo of an existing house - so I ran out one morning just as the sun was coming up and took a few photos and fired this off to Andrew, asking what he thought of something like this:
Clicking makes it bigger

Now, I was surprised at how easily the concept seemed to come. In fact, at the time I did that I was thinking this whole cover art thing was such a breeze that I might be able to crank out 3 or 4 a day. I told him I would find a house that fit the descriptions inside the book a bit more closely and we'd go from there.

And that's where the problems started, I had some difficulty finding the right house. I was unhappy with them, all of them. I had issues with finding the right place to stand to take the photos, with the lighting, and once, when I was more than a mile from my car, walking through neighborhoods and looking for the perfect photo I got caught in an unexpected rainstorm that came down with more ferocity than any I'd seen in recent memory. It was a very long walk back to my car after that.

This went on for some time, I spent hours and hours looking for just that right house and I couldn't do it. I had nothing. So I made a reluctant decision.

I would paint it.

I thought of that from the very beginning, but rejected the idea right off the bat as too time consuming. But at this point I had already spent many hours with nothing to show for it. Andrew had mentioned before that the house was based off the real home that belonged to his Grandparents when he was young so I asked him if he had a photo. He sent me the Google street view and it was there. That was the house.

So, using that picture as a reference, I was able to paint (digitally, btw) what eventually became the final cover.


There is still a thousand little tales here, decisions made, or rejected, about fonts, sizes, clouds, trees, colors. Each one was agonized over, all in the hope that somewhere, somebody will see the above, shrunk down to the size of a postage stamp, and click on it.

17 comments:

Pk Hrezo said...

Awesome job! It looks great!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

And you came up with something great!

Tonja said...

That is a great cover. You painted digitally?!

Rogue Mutt said...

Nice cover. I'll have to let you know if I need one.

Kim Mullican said...

OK... I may just bang on your door for cover art! Nice freakin' work!

Matthew MacNish said...

It looks great! I especially like the sort of dripping paint font for the title.

Munk said...

Excellent cover.

Cindy said...

You know I think it's awesome. I especially like the clouds in the background.

Rusty Webb said...

PK - Thanks

Alex - And thank you sir.

Tonja - I did, using brushes in photoshop and my tablet I talked about endlessly in the spring.

Rogue - Cool. I've been toying with a Scarlet Knight idea in my head for awhile, don't know if it would be workable, I'm just saying...

Kim - Please do, no promises of greatness, but you never know.

Matthew & Munk - Thank you both.

Cindy - You like the clouds? Awesome. I was more nervous about them than I was anything. I still don't think I got them quite right. Glad you liked them.

julie fedderson said...

I am completely impressed! You are so talented! I think it's perfect, has that otherworldly feel and looks like the sky right before a violent summer storm. Every kid knows a house like this, one that gives you chills and entices all at once. Very cool.

Michael Offutt said...

Your art is very impressive. And Andrew's grandparents lived in a creepy haunted house. How disturbing.

The Golden Eagle said...

It looks awesome!

Laila Knight said...

Hey,that's pretty cool! I like it. :)

Andrew said...

Well, the real house doesn't look creepy. It is, after all, yellow. Although, it was a much brighter yellow when I was a kid than it is now. However, I always felt like there was stuff just... hidden... in there. Like there were places I couldn't find but were there waiting.

I can't say enough about how great a job Rusty did. You should see how it looks as an actual book, because that's where it gets really impressive.

Andrew said...

Oh, I guess I should say that the idea that sprang up in Rusty's head completely matched what I had already been envisioning, so that worked out really well. Maybe it says something about the material, too? I don't know. I do know that there was no bickering about what kind of vision we would go with, because he suggested what was already in my head.

Rusty Webb said...

Julie - thanks, I did know a creepy house just like that when I was a kid. In fact, I recall living in two houses like that. Creepy.

Michael - Ha! My grandparents (and I) lived in a house I was sure was haunted. I so wish I took pictures of the place before they died. It's been sold off since, but man, that was a real haunted house.

Eagle & Laila - thank you both.

Andrew - Thanks for the encouragement. You were awesome to work with. Let me know if you need help again.

Andrew said...

Actually...
I do have something. I'll email you about it, though. Probably once I hear back from you about all of those commas, though :P