Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Getting Art: First Glimpse

Last night I had a big surprise in my email. 

Step 5
A first glimpse of my cover art for P2PC!

All I can say is....wow!  It's dramatic and some of the elements are downright awesome.

(If you missed my earlier post on Getting Art, you can scroll down to read it.)

I'm sure it takes every writer time to "absorb" the first look at their cover art, since the image can never be exactly how you had it pictured in your head.  The cover is meant to suggest big picture concepts like mood, tone, genre and theme of the story. Some of the elements went far beyond the bounds of my imagination while others were very close to what I pictured.  I can't tell you how many times I opened...and closed...and re-opened the file again to take another look.  :)

Here are my impressions:

Characters: Very, very close...amazingly close to my mental portraits...based on the few excerpts and descriptions I'd provided.  Nathalie did a wonderful job capturing their essence. I did suggest a wardrobe tweak for Zjel that I thought was important along with a minor "prop" adjustment.

Layout:  Not quite what I'd pictured (as a non-artist, y'understand), but the image is powerful in scope and perfect in capturing the SF theme.  The more I study the design the better I like it.  It has drama and flair that my "head image" was totally lacking.

The Ship:  I loved how the ship was used in relationship to the overall design.  Brilliant!

Background:  Perfect for the SFR genre and the story I'm trying to tell.  It wasn't a concerpt that I'd thought of or described to Nathalie, so I think she had some ESP going for her!  It subliminally suggests the larger story behind the introduction of the two MCs and main character Zjel which isn't apparent in the first few chapters.

Colors:  More subtle than I pictured, but they work very well.  I made one request on color adjustment of an element, but I'm not sure how it will affect the overall product, so I'll go with the expert's opinion on that point.

Font:  I like the futuristic fonts used and the stark simplicity of it. The easy-to-read lettering doesn't overpower the details related via the images.
What's next?  I've sent Nathalie (Kanaxa) my suggestions for tweaks or changes, asking if they're doable, but  I think we may be very close to a final product on the cover design.

So that's the status report to date.  I'm really enjoying the whole experience of working with the artist on my cover design.  Most authors don't have the opportunity for this level of interaction with the designer.  The decisions about the cover art are made by the publishing house, the marketing department and/or the artist they contract and the author has little or no input until the work is complete. What you see is what you get.  (Though I understand from my peers that a few of the e-publishers are a little more interactive with the authors than the big paper publishers.) 

If I step into the publishers shoes for a minute, I can relate to their point of view.  The author is the expert in creating and developing the story, but once the contract is signed, the publisher is investing their dollars into the packaging and marketing and in that area they have the expertise, not the author.  (Unless, of course, you happen to be a cover art designer and an author, like Nathalie Gray.)  

That said however, I can relate to my peers' dismay when a cover is released with an MC that doesn't match the story's description--wrong color hair, wrong look, etc.  And I often ponder the covers that give me an impression of the MC--clean-cut, short hair--but the story presents a very different MC, i.e. long hair, spikey hair, etc..  Just my humble opinion, but hair style and length does make a visual statement about the character.  Do you agree?

Stay tuned for more on the process...and the final unveiling of the P2PC cover art on this blog.

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