Friday, June 11, 2010

Need advice about cover design

Hey illustrators,
This is a collage of pieces of various photos (all are my own photos except for several parts of the bull's body). I propose to use this photo collage as the sketch and photo reference for the cover painting that I'm about to paint for the second book in the Shaker kids series.
I can see that the bright yellow dress on the girl standing on the fence is not working, because the bright yellow type is pulling the figure into the foreground. I plan to make the dress and scarf that she's waving a duller orange-yellow. I plan to make shadows of the bull and the boy in the grass. (Light is coming from behind and to left)
But I'd like to make the grass area less green, if such a thing is possible. It's March or April in the scene, so in reality the grass would be green. And we have to stick with as authentic a re-creation of that scene as possible, d/t the need to keep the scenes historically accurate with respect to Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill.
I want to try to make the color scheme more of a purple and violet versus yellow and orange kind of a color scheme. What could I do about that big section of green grass?
What would be a good type face or font to use? This is Trajan Pro with chisel hard bevel and emboss, and I kind of like it. But it's not very thick and readable. Any suggestions?
Also, if there is something glaringly bad, awkward, distorted or just plain not working in this photo collage, please let me know. Thanks! See you guys at lunch next week.


  1. On the type, although I would defer to Chuck's opinion and typography expertise, my instinct is that type effects like embossing, drop shadows, etc. tend to undermine most type solutions. I would try some versions without them.

    In the final painting, I would kind of like to see the boy looki more terrified. His arm positions almost give the illustion he is pulling the bull rather than running from it. I would also be careful of the tangent of his head and wll line.

    I like the girl. Is is possible to not make the fabric not connect with the title? That is also affecting the readability.

    Just my two cents-use what you find helpful :) I like the action secene concept very much!

  2. A lot of good points, Christina! Trajan is a font often associated with Old Rome or the Vatican, and I think it's a bit out-of-place here. I'd look for ways to soften the graphics.

    I haven't read the book and I don't know who the intended audience is, but this concept seems a bit page-specific to me, and might work better as an interior illustration. The action is very interesting, but it doesn't reinforce the title.

    If that's out-of-the question, I'd take Christina's advice. I'd focus more on the boy. Maybe try re-shooting him looking over his shoulder with a really good expression. Get him closer to the picture plane and show him from the waist up —make sure the arms are carefully positioned. This gets an emotion front and center and less grass. Reduce the bull a bit, and make sure his scale is right with the wall. Can the woman be leaning over the wall?

    If green grass is a problem, take some reference shots at sunset. Maybe even lower the camera for a higher horizon-line. That will make your perspective issues easier.

    Best of luck!

  3. It just occurred to me that this is a book FOR kids. That changes my advice a bit. If you are marketing at all to young boys, the action cover is definitely a good route. I would try a font that is bold, roughly characteristic of the Civil-War Era, and try to avoid any computer-created effects that are too clean, polished, or glossy-looking.

    I'll stand by my earlier comment on the compositional elements and definitely bring down the girl in the dress. —good luck!