Thursday, 26 July 2018

Gallery Post - Mike Shayne Design #1

CLICK THE IMAGE to see at a larger size. This is the first of two after classic Mike Shayne cover designs. This design, including the primary font and Robert McGuiness art, can also be found on Spanish editions of some Mickey Spillane novels. I'm afraid that my little portrait isn't particularly good but I did manage to figure out the lined effect found on this version of the covers, so I'm satisfied.

It's a great exercise in branding that works very well in a thumbnail. However, this comes at the expense of the artwork which needs more contrast to be seen at a small size than is found in some of the original art.

The main font is from the Scriptorium and is called Shayne, having been based on this line of Mike Shayne books. I'll discuss these as part of a post about cover design at a later date.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Gallery Post - Fragments of an Idea

CLICK ON THE IMAGE to see at a larger size. This is based on a couple of covers from, I believe, the sixties. I'll talk about them more in another post focusing on different cover designs. I built this on into a full template for future projects.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Gallery Post - Gold is the Coldest Color

CLICK ON THE IMAGE to see at a larger size. This was another experiment in colour. The title uses a free font, called Merienda Bold, which I think works well for this project. The tag is in Ascelon, while the author is in Lydian.

Gallery Post - Blood Flows in Shades of Red

CLICK ON THE IMAGE to see at a larger size. This one was a bit of an experiment in shades of red. The title font is Nightmare, which you can get from The Scriptorium and was based on an old book font. The tag text is in Ascelon, again from The Scriptorium, while the author's name is in Lydian.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Gallery Post - A Night Not For Sleeping

CLICK THE IMAGE TO SEE at a larger size. The title font is Area of Suspicion and the tag text is Ascelon, both from The Scriptorium, The author's name is in Lydian.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Cover Tutorial - Underwater

UNDERWATER IMAGES NEED a couple of additional tricks to pull off. I'm going to assume that you've looked at building templates and the First Cover tutorial already and will dive right into this one. 'Deep Sea Thrillers' seem to be very popular these days, if only with the writers, so if you're going to supply for the modern pulp market, this is a genre you should work with.

If you are using 3D staging software like Poser, then fortunately, there are a lot of underwater monsters available to buy a very reasonable prices. You can find fantasy monsters, a giant octopus, creatures direct from Lovecraft's imagination, along with a large assortment of sharks, dolphins, and whales. Even a few fish. Best of all, there are lots of prehistoric beasts, most by a chap who sells under the name of Dinoraul. I shall do some posts featuring his work at some point but really, if you mean to do pulp at all, burn that name into your brain - great prehistoric models, and great fantasy beasts. The creatures in this image are his.

Cover Tutorial - First Cover

FOR OUR FIRST COVER, I think we should keep it very simple. We're going to have a single figure and prop - and that's it. I'm going to assume that you have some working knowledge of the software used, though I'm not going to talk about any very sophisticated functions. I'm also going to assume that you've created the paperback templates as described in my previous post. The programs I'll be using are Poser, Affinity Photo, and Artrage.

For Poser, you could just as easily use DAZ Studio or Carrara. For Affinity, you could use Photoshop, Elements, or GIMP. For Artrage... well, you can use Painter.

Before continuing, I think it worth saying something about why I use a program like Poser to create my source images, rather than using photographic. 

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Cover Tutorial - Building Cover Templates

BEFORE WE MAKE a start on creating images, we need a canvas. That is to say, we need to define our cover.

To this end, we are going to build two templates. The first is a full cover, that is to say, front, back, and spine. The second is a display cover, featuring only the front and is where I had wear and tear.

Full Cover Template

First we need to decide on that canvas. I have elected for the 5x8 cover from Amazon’s CreateSpace, downloading it spaced for 200 pages. If you know the number of pages you need, then that’s grand, select what you want. However, it is easy enough to modify a cover design for a different spine size, so don’t worry about it.

Create a new document with this template in your photo editor. Your next step is to add some guide lines to mark out the spine, the bleed, and the safe zones. If you look to the layers palette on the right, you’ll see the CreateSpace template on the bottom layer and then two groups. The grunge group is not something to worry about yet but in between this and the base layer is were we will create a series of groups, each one being a different cover design. To start with, we’re going to create something fairly free form.

The Scriptorium / Fontcraft

THE SCRIPTORIUM IS A FONT FOUNDRY that specializes in reproducing antique and hand drawn fonts. There are so many fonts that you’ll want to put on a book here that you could spend your savings within 10 minutes. So, stay focused and subscribe to their newsletter as they do have occasional sales.

The most cost effective way to shop with them is to buy packages of fonts - I’ve picked up a few of these since starting this project and haven’t regretted any of them.

Pulp Fonts Package

A good place to get started is their Pulp Fonts package, which was my first purchase, and most of which was designed from pulp book cover type. Containing eight fonts, there’s a little of everything.

Free Commercial Use Fonts

IT'S EASY TO THINK that you can’t have enough fonts. This might even be true. Now, pretend that it isn’t. Keep focused on the needs of your project and try to source only fonts that are going to be useful for the covers you are making. Otherwise, you are going to spend all your time amassing a huge collection that you’ll have to sift through every time you want to find something - you’ll also spend a fortune on stuff you may not need.

The next bit of advice is specific to free fonts. Download only what is licensed for you to use commercially, then try out what you do download and if you don’t think you’ll use it or if the quality is not what you had hoped for, then uninstall and delete it.

In this post, I’m going to focus on free fonts that could be of use to you, along with links to where you can get them.

First up is a selection from Fontspring - you will need to sign up to get them but they haven’t been spamming me, so I can recommend them.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Getting Started with Covers

FOR MOST OF US, when we think of pulp literature, we think of two things: the covers and the content.

Before we can talk about either, we need to clarify a little what it is that we are talking about. Pulp was a term first applied to the pulp magazines of the early twentieth century, whose covers, on a broader canvas than the paperback, were colourful, lurid, and sensational. These are not my main target here. Instead, I’m interested in their spiritual successor: the cheap pocket paperback. A smaller, narrower canvas created different demands from artists, but because they were selling a single novel (usually) rather than a collection of stories, the on-cover text could be limited and focused.

Like many readers my age and older, I was attracted to the painted paperback of old, they were covers, with their unique aesthetic, full of promises to reader - and that is what sells books. I find many of today’s ePulp covers lacking something, though, in fairness, it is through no fault of their own.

The market for this sort of fiction today is very different from that of the past. Back then, sales would support the cost of professional cover artists, while today’s pulp publishers are working with micro-budgets. To meet the demand for budget covers, there is now a cottage industry in what are being termed ‘pre-made’ covers (or which professionals apparently prefer to term ‘ready for print’). These covers are largely created using stock photos manipulated in a photo editor, such as Photoshop, and feature fairly generic designs so as to maximize the number of books they might be suitable for. It is a scatter-shot strategy, as the designer cannot count on a return from every product, they must keep production costs and time to a minimum, so as to maximize their production output while keeping the price low enough for the customer base. This is why there is such reliance on cheap stock photos and generic designs intended to have a broad appeal, a formula that results in a marketplace of some very competent but frequently either bland and/or samey images.