Friday, August 14, 2015

Now accepting cover requests!

Yes, you read that right!  I am now taking cover requests! :-)  If you have questions, please see my FAQ page:  http://edhgraphics.blogspot.com/p/faq.html

Here is an orc woman wielding a crossbow?  Why?  Because she's cool :-)  If you are as big a nerd as I am, then I recommend listening to The Adventure Zone podcast with the McElroy brothers.  This is a completely different twist on Dungeons&Dragons.  I never know what's going to happen next! :-)


I look forward to hearing from you!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

COVER REQUEST UPDATE

Hi all!

Quick note:  I will NOT be accepting any new cover or misc requests until August , 2015.  I am booked solid.  I cannot even squeeze in small projects. 

I love the fact that you all keep me so busy because I love each and every one of you and I feel just terrible that I can't put you on the schedule until August.  Thank you so much for your understanding :-)

That's August 1, 2015.

Thank you!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Summer Holiday and How I created a Fantasy cover :-)

Greetings!!!

It's getting to be that time of year when I have to step back and refuel :-)  This year, my summer holiday starts July 11th 2015, with me cutting out early July 10th to fully clean the house before I go.   I hate leaving a messy house! :-) 

Anyway, I've received several huge projects over the past few weeks--multiple cover requests with sides (banners, etc).  This means that my schedule is near to bursting.  If you want your cover done before I go on vacation, send in the request now, no later than June 15th 2015.   I won't be accepting new authors until August 1st 2015.   My current authors take precedence. 

I will not be online during my holiday which starts July 11, 2015 and ends July 20, 2015.  So, I won't be reading emails or messages.  I stay away from the computer when on holiday.  I like spending all my time with my husband and soon to be 3 year old son :-)

Thank you for your understanding!

The "Ursula" art piece blog was a huge hit, so continuing in that vein, I will show you how I created this cover:
Of course, I'm going to have keep some things secret :-)  We all have our little tricks that aren't taught in school :-)

Here are the images involved:


Can you see the transformation?  :-)  The great thing about images is the ability to play with them.  That is what photo-manipulation is--a photo is literally manipulated to suit whatever need I have.   Now that we have the images, let's start combining :-)

 
Here we have the combined images.  I also added in some flame and painted in white hair.  I removed the gun and replaced it with the sword.  Just combining images, however, will not give a polished look as you can see.  Everything is still very much pasted, colors are random.  If I received this for a cover, I would throw a fit.  So, it's time to start fixing the colors.  I have several actions that I have created for Photoshop that will automatically fix coloring for me.  This saves me a lot of time.  Of course, creating those actions in the first place took a great deal of time, but it's worth it in the long run.  Let's add a coloring action that I like to call "Sick".


As you can now see, the colors are very similar.   The separate images are starting to come together. However, we lost some important colors so we'll have to add that on top of this layer.


She now has green eyes, the fire is more blue and I've added more lighting to her face.  This puts her more front and center and draws the eye to her intense gaze.  But we're still not done.  Her hair is choppy and there are some texture elements I don't like on here--like the area between her hair and the background.  It looks lined.  So, let's start cleaning this up.


In this layer, I've smoothed her hair, cleaned up the edges between her and the background, added an insane amount of shadows, increased contrast and brightness, painted in bits and pieces that I felt had disappeared, and made sure she was the focal point.  The creatures in the background add the fantastical elements but do not overshadow the main character.  However, based on this cover, you now have a good idea of what this book is about :-)


For the finale, we add the fonts.  Because this is a fantasy that takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, I opted to not use standard fantasy fonts.  I also opted not to use fantasy fonts because they would overwhelm the cover.  We want to see the cover, not a bunch of fonts.  Simple is best in this situation.  My motto--simple is always best.  It keeps things clean and sharp.  Too much chaos is well, too much chaos :-)  As you can see in my portfolio and how I create covers, I always go simple.  I don't like to put more than 4 primary objects on a cover.  3 is actually my favorite number :-)  Which, in this cover, there are 3 primary objects--the heroine and the creatures.  All else supports them.  In my opinion, that's how a cover should be. 

I hope you found this to be a fun read, well, at least interesting :-) LOL  Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to see what it is I do :-)

Thanks!






Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Holidays and News :-)

Happy Holidays one and all!  No matter what you celebrate, I hope you are having a wonderful winter season!

Because it is the holiday season, I need to inform everyone of my holiday schedule.  I will not be available from December 19, 2014 until January 4, 2015.  I won't even be checking my emails.  For me, Christmas is the time to spend with my family, making lots of food, getting fat, shopping, and decorating :-) 

In cover art news:

I don't accept rush jobs.  It's unfair to put an author above another author who is already in the queue.  It keeps thing fair and organized this way.  If you do have a rush job, you should seek another cover artist.  Perhaps they won't believe in being fair.

Pre-Made covers are changing.  I'm calling them "Concept Designs".  I'm doing this because so many stock sites are now requiring extended licenses for any images used in Pre-Made Covers.  Even though I only sell the pre-made covers once, the legal wording used in the stock sites makes it so I have to purchase an extended license.  My pre-made covers are inexpensive so it's not cost effective for me to purchase an extended license.  Therefore, I'm creating Concept Designs.  These can be used as covers.  All we do is add title, author name, etc.  I'll have individual prices under the Concept Designs.

One of these days, I'll have to start taking pictures myself.  Stock images are getting more expensive--especially if you want images that are more rare.  I've seen so many of the same images on covers that it makes me nauseous.  I'm sure, as authors, you want something original for your book as well.  Custom images can be expensive.  I'm also searching for new models.  I'm bored seeing the same ones on so many covers.  Of course, I still have my favorites--Jax Turyna, Max Aria, Jason Aaron Baca--to name a few (there are several).  But I want new faces along with the popular faces.  It helps new models become the Heroines and Heroes they want to be :-)

I'm thinking of changing my pricing scale.  As you all know, I like being fair.  It doesn't seem fair to charge the same price for a cover that has 1-3 images the same cost as a cover that has 7-9 images.  The price is too disparate.  I'm thinking of employing a price scale like so:
(e-books)
1-3 images:  $100.00
4-6 images:  $125.00
7-9 images:  $150.00
More than 10 images:  $200.00

What do you think?

Have a wonderful holiday season! :-)

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! :-)