About a month ago, I quietly released 5 Short Tales of Strange New Beginnings. My budget for this project was <$200. Decent book cover design usually runs about $300-500. God knows what $200 would buy.
I decided to design the cover myself and spend my limited funds on copyediting services (more on this later, maybe).
While I appreciate good design and can (sometimes) spot ineffective design, a graphic designer I ain't.
However, I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted. Unfortunately, brain-to-screen imaging isn't a thing yet, so I had to use a pencil. Here's the sorry result:
I'm comfortable with digital design tools, so I took a photo of these sketches, traced them in Illustrator, placed them in Photoshop, and came up with this ghastly thing:
Yes, yes, I know. Even the title sucks. I grew disgusted with the alliteration after about five minutes. Also, the color looked too much like brownish-yellow mustard (which, in my mind, will forever look like baby shit). Also, just looking at the typography makes me want to kill myself.
I played with this image for a few days. During this time, I pulled a bunch of books from my shelf and noticed a preponderance of outer glow. This is the result:
Meh. This version was better, but the outer glow was making my eyes bleed. Also realized the truck looked kind of silly. I decided to get an outside opinion on this little work, so I posted a quick request for feedback at /r/design_critiques. Only two users responded (and many thanks to them!), but with their help and a few more hours of work, my cover reached the final version:
From the first image to the last, this cover went through about ten iterations. It would've been much worse if not for the kind people on r/design_critiques. According to my records, I spent 6.75 hours on this cover, but I can think of at least three nights I didn't log my time (because beer). All told, the actual time from concept to finished product is closer to fifteen hours, spread out over two weeks.
Is this a great cover? Not by any means or measure. Does it convey a deeper meaning? Not really. It's a big-ass crow carrying a truck. Is it effective? Maybe. Looks good as thumbnail. Do I like it? Yeah. I'm happy with it.
Did I have fun making it?
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