Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My process...well, a piece of it :-)

Hi all!

I decided to share what exactly I do when I create graphic art or cover art.  Granted, I can't show you everything because that would give away too many secrets but I wanted to show you some of the process.  I do this because I have actually heard a few authors say, "Cover art shouldn't be expensive--it's easy".  Yes, cover art is easy if you don't do it right.  Also, keep in mind a cover is not an image of a sexy dude or couple with words on it.  But I'll get to that in another post.  For now, let's see the finished product:


This is Ursula, the sea witch from Disney's "The Little Mermaid".  She doesn't look like the cartoon character and that's because I thought the cartoon character was a tad bit insulting.  So, only skinny, young girls can have a happy ending?  Sorry, that's another tangent.  Getting back to the art piece...I wanted to show Ursula as a sad woman.  Perhaps this was her right after her world was turned upside down, when she no longer had friends, just before her misery turned her into a ball of hatred.

Anyway, my interpretation of Ursula used the following images:

 
Can you see them all in the final product?  I wanted to first start out with a woman in a mermaid costume so I could better get the feel of what that combination would look like. 
 
I first combined the mermaid, the octopus, and set up her pet eels:
 
If I left it like this, it would be awful--very cut and pasted like many covers I see these days (that'll be another blog post). I painted on her hair and added a few shadows while I was there.  I colored the octopus and the eels the color I needed--a very dark blue, nearly gray.

The next step was to add her ink.  This would prove difficult because the art piece was already dark.  I took the image of the fog, inverted it, and got black fog.  I added that, added some light and here is that product:
It's starting to get some texture.  I hate smooth images.  They don't feel real.  When I create covers, I always add texture of some sort.

Next, it was time to gray everything out.  The art piece was becoming far too blue and losing the feel I wanted.  I colored in gray so I could better see the highlights and shadows.  There were certain parts of the tentacles I wanted shown and certain parts hidden.  I also had to make sure everyone could tell the eels were not coming out from her body as the dark colors could blend in together.

Once I realized what it was I wanted to highlight, I then began to add color once more.  I still wanted the gray feel but I needed some harsh contrast and I wanted some of the blue back.

 
Next, I added more color--this time green.  I went with a Lomo style type of coloring because I love the depressed feel of it.  It would be perfect for this art piece.  I also added in another image to give more texture.
 
We're now getting toward the end of this art piece.  I painted a lot of the image to give it the right feel, I used hard brush strokes to make the edges harder, increased the lighting and the shadows, increased the contrast, added more color, and changed the size of the image.  I like having the models take up more of the piece.   I added in some plants because the piece was feeling a bit boring.  And voila!  The art piece without the fonts:


I know I only showed you six steps, but I have 76 layers for this piece.  If you've ever worked in Photoshop, then you know you need many layers to make an art piece.

I hope this has been enlightening and although I didn't show you everything I do, which would give away far too many trade secrets, I hope authors learned that creating art isn't easy just like writing a great book isn't easy.  It takes time and effort.  There is a great deal of work involved but just like writing, it's still really fun!

Thank you!



 





Monday, June 9, 2014

Cover flagged at Amazon? Here are some unofficial rules to safeguard your future covers.


“What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect.” -- https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A1KT4ANX0RL55I

For someone like me, that rule from Amazon’s KDP program is a little vague as to what makes a cover offensive.  As an Award-Winning Cover Artist at EDHGraphics with a focus on Romance and Erotica genres, I find there is little that offends me.  How am I supposed to know what is appropriate for Amazon?
As far as I know, there is no official list from Amazon of what is or what is not appropriate. The following are examples that have been brought to my attention--instances where Amazon has flagged a book because of what it deemed as "inappropriate" content and those were the reasons given to the authors and to me. This list is based on what people in my field--art directors, cover artists, and authors have told me. My list is to just simply save you the headache of potentially having your book flagged. However, I do believe Amazon needs to have official rules instead of the very broad interpretation of "What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect". My goal, as a cover artist, is to provide the most eye-catching cover I can provide within safe guidelines. I compiled the list of examples over the past few years for your benefit.

All of these are unofficial no-no’s:
--Naked female torso including front view or sometimes side view.  Side boob inappropriate.
--Arms or hands across breasts.
--Naked butt.   On one occasion, upper thigh close to lower butt cheek was unacceptable.
--No naked people in a clinch even if they aren’t “fondling”.
--Any sexual position that implies penetration (Missionary, doggie-style, etc).
--No naked characters straddling each other.
--No handcuffs on wrists.  Handcuffs being held is fine.
--No “O” faces.
--No nudity.
--No women on their knees in front of men (as in implied fellatio).
--No men between women’s thighs (as in implied cunnilingus).
--No men’s faces on breasts.

Following the above list will keep you relatively safe.  There are exceptions to be found.  A recent cover was banned because the woman was bound in ribbons.  There will be never be a guarantee because Amazon does not have any official rules.  They “reserve the right to make judgments about whether content is appropriate and to choose not to offer it” (https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A1KT4ANX0RL55I). 
If you are an author of dark erotica, BDSM, or even general erotica, I would highly recommend one of two options:

1)    A symbolic cover.  If Amazon finds offense to a rose, then I throw my hands up. J
2)    A “step-back” cover.  Have your artist create a very safe cover and then have her/him create an insert cover with a very smexy image J  I have to emphasize here no nudity—that could still cause issues.  A fine example of this is Jenn LeBlanc’s ABSOLUTE SURRENDER.
It is challenging to create a cover that Amazon will not find inappropriate when there are no official rules.  Hopefully, this will change one day and we will not be expected to piece together emails, letters, and comments in order to keep covers from being flagged.

As a side note, if your cover is safe, your book could still potentially be flagged.  Amazon does flag books based on content and blurb descriptions.
Thank you!

Update on Unofficial Amazon rules...


“What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect.” -- https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A1KT4ANX0RL55I

For someone like me, that rule from Amazon’s KDP program is a little vague as to what makes a cover offensive.  As an Award-Winning Cover Artist at EDHGraphics with a focus on Romance and Erotica genres, I find there is little that offends me.  How am I supposed to know what is appropriate for Amazon?
As far as I know, there is no official list from Amazon of what is or what is not appropriate. The following are examples that have been brought to my attention--instances where Amazon has flagged a book because of what it deemed as "inappropriate" content and those were the reasons given to the authors and to me. This list is based on what people in my field--art directors, cover artists, and authors have told me. My list is to just simply save you the headache of potentially having your book flagged. However, I do believe Amazon needs to have official rules instead of the very broad interpretation of "What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect". My goal, as a cover artist, is to provide the most eye-catching cover I can provide within safe guidelines. I compiled the list of examples over the past few years for your benefit.

All of these are unofficial no-no’s:
--Naked female torso including front view or sometimes side view.  Side boob inappropriate.
--Arms or hands across breasts.
--Naked butt.   On one occasion, upper thigh close to lower butt cheek.
--No naked people in a clinch even if they aren’t “fondling”.
--Any sexual position that implies penetration (Missionary, doggie-style, etc).
--No naked characters straddling each other.
--No handcuffs on wrists.  Handcuffs being held is fine.
--No “O” faces.
--No nudity.
--No women on their knees in front of men (as in implied fellatio).
--No men between women’s thighs (as in implied cunnilingus).
--No men’s faces on breasts.

Following the above list will keep you relatively safe.  There are exceptions to be found.  A recent cover was banned because the woman was bound in ribbons.  There will be never be a guarantee because Amazon does not have any official rules.  They “reserve the right to make judgments about whether content is appropriate and to choose not to offer it” (https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A1KT4ANX0RL55I). 
If you are an author of dark erotica, BDSM, or even general erotica, I would highly recommend one of two options:

1)    A symbolic cover.  If Amazon finds offense to a rose, then I throw my hands up. J
2)    A “step-back” cover.  Have your artist create a very safe cover and then have her/him create an insert cover with a very smexy image J  I have to emphasize here no nudity—that could still cause issues.  A fine example of this is Jenn LeBlanc’s ABSOLUTE SURRENDER.
It is challenging to create a cover that Amazon will not find inappropriate when there are no official rules.  Hopefully, this will change one day and we will not be expected to piece together emails, letters, and comments in order to keep covers from being flagged.

As a side note, if your cover is safe, your book could still potentially be flagged.  Amazon does flag books based on content and blurb descriptions.

Thank you all for stopping by! :-)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

PRICE CHANGE!!!

PRICE CHANGE!!!!!

I'm increasing e-book cover prices to $100.00.  If you can't afford that, I'll understand if you need to go elsewhere but I can't make a living with the prices I have now.  I have far too much overhead--quality images, classes, software, computer, etc.  So, I'm being forced to increase my prices or not work at all doing this.  Even if you are a client of mine, the price will increase.   If we have a current project, then the price will stay as before but all future projects will have a price increase.

This is not limited to e-books only.  Print covers will increase to $150 and includes the e-book.  I will have bundles available at $175 and $200.00.  Bundle A at $175 will include print, e-book, 3D cover, and rackcard.  Bundle B at $200.00 will include print, e-book, 3D cover, rackcard, and Facebook banner.

Thank you for your understanding!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Being tagged as ADULT on Amazon? Here are some rules to follow for Cover Art...

Hi all!

As some of you know, Amazon, and a few other sites, have been cracking down on covers, book descriptions, and content.  (I know, content?  Yes, some books are too dirty).  It is their right to sell or not sell books so if you wish to remain with Amazon and not be tagged as an Adult, here are some rules to follow regarding your cover.  As for blurbs or content, I can't help you there.

NO:

Frontal nudity of groin area, male or female (DUH)

Naked female torso--front view or sometimes side view (naked back okay, as long as butt crack not shown)

Side view of bare female breasts
 
An arm across bare female breasts or hands touching or clasping female breasts
 
Naked butt, male or female (discreet view of butt cheeks peeking out of bottom of shorts or skirt is okay; for example, Hot Tango by Sidney Bristol)
 
Naked people in a clinch even if they aren’t “fondling”
 
Position that implies sexual activity—woman kneeling with mouth near man’s groin (clothed or not); one naked or near-naked character lying on top of or straddling the other
 
“Fondling” or implied masturbation (hands touching groin even if clothed,hands grasping nude butt or grasping nude female breasts)
 
Some of these are Duh! moments but others not so much.  I don't see why the arm across the breasts should be banned--nothing is showing.  It's odd not to show or imply sexual activity for a cover that is meant to convey what the erotic book is about.  With these rules, it's difficult for anyone to know that your book is erotica or romantica.  
 
In order to make sure your cover is safe, I recommend a flower on the cover.  However, if the content is very naughty, you will be tagged anyway and no one will be able to even search for you on Amazon.  However, Smashwords (to my knowledge) does not ban books or covers so you can upload whatever you wish there.
 
Or, you can have two covers:  one a solid color so as to not offend the Amazon Judges, and one very raunchy cover to promo.  Best of both worlds. 
 
These options aren't much fun but it's the best I can do under the restrictions.
 
Erin
 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Please welcome the ruggedly handsome, Max Aria!

Greetings all!

I am so excited to have the sexy model/actor , Max Aria, here at my blog!  I absolutely adore using his images from PeriodImages.com on the covers I create!  He has a rugged quality that makes him perfect for the paranormal genre. 

Me: Welcome to EDHGraphics, Max! I am so happy to have you. Let me start off by asking the question I am sure everyone wants to know and that is, how did you get started in the modeling profession?

Max:  I actually started in the fitness world. I was extremely active in sports when I was younger and I started reading bodybuilding magazines to learn about nutrition and workout routines. After I got injured playing football, I decided to do a bodybuilding show to satisfy my competitive spirit. I put a few photos from it on my "myspace" profile back then, and within a few weeks, I had been contacted by a few photographers in Los Angeles that worked for the magazines. It was pretty mind boggling at the time, so I came out to do a few photoshoots and see what the industry was like. After shooting for fitness photographers, I fell into doing more mainstream work and commercials.

Me: Why did you want to become a model?

Max:  The pursuit of fame and fortune, of course! Lol, kidding. Honestly, I like the idea of creating something new that won't ever be replicated--Like art. I was always creative when I was younger, and I wrote music and eventually started acting, so I like the idea of creating.  

Me: You have portrayed many different types of heroes.  Is there a persona you haven’t done yet that you would like to and if you have done them all, then which persona is your favorite?

Max:  I'm really glad that superhero movies have made a huge comeback in recent years. I actually just finished playing Thor in a film called God of Thunder. It was one hero I always wanted to play, so it was awesome being able to play a version of him. I'd also really like to play Batman or Wolverine at some point. They've got an edgy energy that I tend to be drawn toward.

Me: What is your favorite all-time image of yourself?

Max:  I personally love a shot I took in Juarez, Mexico with photographer Milo800. I know it's not a typical modeling shot, but I love it! It was also very eye-opening experience crossing the border into Juarez where I was immediately met with people with AK-47's because of the drug war. I have a couple of interesting stories of being over there, but I'll save those for another day!
Hmm, now I want to hear those stories!!!! We'll need a second interview!!!

 
Me:  Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten? What are your ultimate goals?

Max:  At this point, I have a couple of options. Recently, I've had offers to model overseas, which I'm considering, but one of my main pursuits is to further establish an acting career. I see myself as starring in several films in the coming years.

Me:  Do you find physical good looks to be more an asset or a hindrance? In what ways? How important is beauty? Is your eye for it standard or do you have your own definition?

Max:  "Good looks" are always in the eye of the beholder. I think that it's all a matter of perception. And if you shoot with the top photographers, most people will think you're "good looking" regardless!--Lol. Also, there are many different types of modeling. Most companies want to shoot people that look like an upstanding version their target demographic.. Just watch a few television commercials and see! Lots of "real-looking" relatable people. And as far as high-fashion goes...no one knows what they want! Not even them!

Me:  What is the most rewarding thing about modeling? What advice would you give to up-and-coming models?

Max:  The most rewarding thing about modeling is the ability to work with fun, creative people every day. And it's not like a 9-5 job where you do the same thing every day. You get to collaborate with people to do something completely new and unique every day.

Me:  Do you have any advice for up and coming models?

Max:  Market yourselves! Because of the internet, there are countless new opportunities of marketing. Social media, interviews, websites and blogs... Be proactive! Also, I try to stay away from the negative, but I'd suggest that you be careful to not be taken advantage of.. Luckily, I've always had a good sense of being able to "read" people to see if they were scammers.. or worse. It seems there are so many out there. Don't ever sign with an agency that wants money up front. Also, during my first meeting with a potential modeling agent, a bunch of red flags went off in my head, so I just decided to leave. Just yesterday, I found an article TMZ wrote about him being a predator with several lawsuits from his models.. Be careful! No one job or one person will make or break your career. Finally, have thick skin and don't ever take things personally. Be patient, but also persistent and proactive with whatever your goals are.

Max Aria is a laugh riot and a very fun person.  During this interview he answered a silly question about himself:

Max:  I have a crazy sense of humor and can find something funny about absolutely anything.. or nothing. It's actually gotten me in some trouble in the past. Haha, If you see me suddenly burst out into laughter for no reason, don't worry. It's just me being myself. Also, I like puppies.

HE LIKES PUPPIES!!!  I can just imagine him in a photo shoot with a bunch of puppies...sigh...

Thank you so much for sharing a part of your life with us, Max! He is so sweet!  If you would like to learn more of Max Aria and to see his portfolio, please visit the following sites:
 
 
 
Below is my favorite cover that I created using an image of Max!
 

 
 
 And now for the special Max-centric bundle!  The bundle includes Facebook banner, e-book cover, and 3D cover for just $50.00!!  Only one available, so act fast!!!


Next week, the sexy Daniel Sobieray will be featured!  Don't miss this devilish rogue! :-D  Thank you for stopping by!


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Please welcome the marvelous and stunning model, Gezzilyn Leon!

Greetings all!

I am so excited to have model extraordinaire, Gezzilyn Leon, here at my blog!  I absolutely adore using her images from PeriodImages.com on the covers I create!  She shows powerful emotions in all of her poses and that's what separates her from the crowd. 

Me: Welcome to EDHGraphics, Gezzilyn! I am so happy to have you. Let me start off by asking the question I am sure everyone wants to know and that is, how did you get started in the modeling profession?

Gezzilyn:  Thank you so much for having me, I'm also very exited to be here. Well I'll give you an answer you might be curious about; I fell into it on accident. I am an actor originally, since I was five in theater, so at 19 I felt the need for head shots and started a modeling profile to get a photographer to do it TFP (trade for prints). Once I posted the shots to entice other head shot photographers to shoot them for me, I instantly got modeling offers for other things. I was sort of shocked because I had never thought of myself as the type to be a "model" but now I realize what it takes and it's not just to look like a clothes pin on laundry day walking a runway.

Me: Why did you want to become a model?

Gezzilyn: Since I found that I enjoyed taking stills, I started to get creative and book shoots that would pay and give me images I have always wanted to see of myself. I got thrifty with my shoots. I built a great book and started working with photographers that I have looked up to for 5 to 7 years such as ALVARADO the Pin Up Artist on my own concepts. Jessica Rabbit and The Little Mermaid are my two favorites.

Me: You have portrayed many different types of heroines.  Is there a persona you haven’t done yet that you would like to and if you have done them all, then which persona is your favorite?

Gezzilyn:  I'm in the works of making my own Super Hero Calendar as a matter of fact. I'll release those details later when I'm almost finished. So far Jessica Rabbit, Aphrodite and The Little Mermaid have been my favorite personas but I am going to be doing every red headed cosplay I can. My next is Peter Pan and Merida from BRAVE.

Me: What is your favorite all-time image of yourself?

Gezzilyn: You're going to make me pick just ONE? Oh boy... That's hard. I have so many from so many GREAT photographers! This one is most popular, how about that. It's one of my faves for sure. It's even on my business card. http://www.modelmayhem.com/portfolio/pic/30867241


Me:  Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten? What are your ultimate goals?

Gezzilyn:  I see myself making feature films and modeling for big novels and magazines. I want to entertain the masses. Travel around the world filming, shooting and working on my other projects outside the entertainment industry. I hope to help start new long term projects and help fund our clean energy and recycling plants around the world. With the audience I build, I believe I will shift our focus to loving the planet we live on. She needs a little TLC.

Me:  Do you find physical good looks to be more an asset or a hindrance? In what ways? How important is beauty? Is your eye for it standard or do you have your own definition?

Gezzilyn:  Beauty to me, is radiance from within. Period.

Me:  What is the most rewarding thing about modeling? What advice would you give to up-and-coming models?

Gezzilyn:  The most rewarding thing is enjoying what you are doing and making memories captured in frames. Making people smile for any reason. Inspiring others to live their dreams and never let anyone tell them they can't. Receiving messages from those who find motivation and inspiration through my passion in my work feels like ten thousand sun beams bursting out of my heart.

And now for something silly! :-D

Me:  So, what is your favorite...? And why?

I hate to pick favorites because I enjoy so many things but I'll try...

Dessert? Home made Strawberry/Berry Shortcake Yum! 

Place to be? So far... In the ocean in my mermaid tail.... Preferably the Hawaiian beaches. You own a mermaid tail?  That is so cool :-)

Book? James Patterson's 'First To Die' It was so good I spent 3 days and nights reading it cover to cover, barely putting it down. Wow, that's on my TBR list now!

Movie? The Little Mermaid, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Beetle Juice.  Love those! 

Holiday/Time of Year? Halloween, even though every day is Halloween for me I love to live in a world of fantasy when everyone participates. I don't like all the attention ALL the time... LOL Halloween is fantastic!

Me: What is your perfect date?

Gezzilyn:  Anything that is unconventional... Get creative guys... Girls deserve a little spontaneity. Especially girls like me, not the dinner and a movie type.

Thank you so much for sharing a part of your life with us, Gezzilyn! She is so sweet!  If you would like to learn more of Gezzilyn Leon and to see her portfolio, please visit the following sites:
 
AMIClubwear.com LookBook www.modelmayhem.com
 
Keep in mind, readers, some of the pictures are racy :-)
 
Below are a few of my favorite covers that I have used Gezzilyn on!
 
 
 
 And now for the special Gezzilyn-centric bundle!  The bundle includes Facebook banner, e-book cover, and 3D cover for just $50.00!!  Only one available, so act fast!!!



Next week, the sexy Max Aria will be featured!  Don't miss this bad boy! :-D  Thank you for stopping by!