Ryan’s Legend was the first eBook that Morning Rain published. My cover design process was still being refined at this point, and the project was certainly fun and exciting. The author had written a lovely, Middle Grade tale of a boy and his legendary friend. Part of my challenge with this cover was that I had to suggest who the legend was, without giving away the secret.
After reading the blurb, and consulting with the author, I came up with several sketch ideas for the cover. Keep in mind, this was our first published eBook, and our design methods have changed over the last year. These concepts were very rough, in order to get a better idea which direction to take the cover.
In the first concept, I used an illustration by S. Jaquith (who also did the illustrations on the inside of the book). I felt that perhaps, we’d like to show the legend right away. But that really wasn’t the way the author wanted to take the cover, so it was discarded. However, we liked the typeface so I took the font from that cover and refined it for the final cover.
The second concept was a variation of the first. The boards are significant in the story, (you’ve read the story, right?), and I felt that they could hide the legend, allowing for the reader to get a glimpse of who it might be. In the end, this one was also not what we were looking for.
The third concept was an attempt to use the snowy setting of the story in a cute way. You can see I put the legend’s eye peeking out from the hole in the fence, and the glowing bag is significant to the story as well. Although the snowy picture was pretty, it wasn’t quite right.
The fourth concept was the best of the initial ideas. It depicted a key scene in the story, and it hinted at who the legend could be. However, for the final cover I was going to need to do some serious Photoshop work.
I hesitate to give all my secrets away, but I am going to tell you how I created the tail on our final cover. I started with a picture of a Sea Horse. Yes, a Sea Horse. I took the tail off, straightened it a bit, then I copied and cloned on an Alligator texture to make the tail look more “legendary” and less “sea creature”.
The background is a cavern picture that I enhanced with a green glow (once again, trying to suggest the cool parts from the story). I wanted to make the fantasy of the legend look a little more real, since it is very real for the main character, Ryan.
Then, to finish up the title, I used the typeface called “Lobster 1.4”. I love this font as it has a boy-ish feel to it, like we are going to a ball game or playing in a tree fort.
This cover was so much fun to create, as I love fantasy stories, and I love making things that we think are not real into something that look real. Photoshop collage work is certainly one of my favourite things to do, especially for book covers. I hope you enjoyed learning my book cover design secrets, and you’ll join me again in the coming weeks as I discuss more of the covers I’ve designed for Morning Rain Publishing.
Stay tuned for the sequel to Ryan’s Legend, “The Legend Returns“, which is scheduled for release, this Thursday, January 15th, 2015.