What makes up the Book Cover category? What makes for a successful Book Cover? What do you need to know to stand out? Lauren Panepinto speaks out...
For the first time, I put categories into an ArtOrder challenge. The judges and I had a conversation about the categories, and the pieces that folks chose to enter into specific categories. Lauren Panepinto, Creative Director for Orbit books, and one of the nefarious judges made the excellent suggestion that it would be great if ArtOrder would feature a conversation about what type of entries would be appropriate for a given category. She was even kind enough to walk the talk and kick off the discussion.
Here is Laura's thoughts on what would make a successful book cover submission.
"A book cover is different from gaming art and concept art and editorial art in a way that most people don't really think about. In fact, a book cover is first and foremost a piece of advertising. Whether in a store full of covers, or on a website full of thumbnails, a book cover has less than a second to catch someone's eye and drag them in closer. A book cover needs to be a visual fishhook, first making people's eyes stop and rest on them, then hopefully either picking up the book and flipping it over (or clicking on the thumbnail and reading the description). The cover must be 3 things: First it must be eye-catching over all else. Then it must speak to the target audience. Then it must portray what's going on in the book. In that order of importance.
From the artist's point of view, an Art Director should be giving you scene ideas (sometimes I know exactly what we need, sometimes it's more up to the artist to be creative), any descriptions they have of characters/scenes/weaponry/etc (I'll give you a manuscript if we have it, although we often don't yet, and although we're thrilled if you want to read it, I don't rely on that), and maybe a note about comparison authors and books which will tell you the target audience. From all of that raw info it is your job to create an image following the 3 needs above.
First, make your composition vertical. Yes, I know there are some wraparound covers, and you can always pitch a wrap idea but it's the front that you will be judged on and generally artists forget that. A wrap should always be an after-thought. There needs to be a clear visual hierarchy. This means you want to control (through your artists' bag of tricks like lighting/color/composition) what the viewer sees first, then second, then so on. That first thing has to be the most important thing in the cover, the most interesting, because if that doesn't hook a viewer they will never see the rest. And keep it simple. If a cover is too busy a viewer's eye glosses right over it. That, almost more than any other point, is the difference between a book cover and something like a Magic card. There's almost always much less going on, more often a cool scene, or a solid character in an interesting pose, and the rest is background.
The best advice I can give about doing book covers is to look at book covers. Really go sit in a bookstore and look at them. You'll start to pick up the visual language right away."
Now, you can take this information in many different ways.
Who do you choose to be today?
If you are a digital artist, there are a ton of options out there for you to experiment with, but ArtRage captured my attention a while back with I started seeing the images that Robh Ruppel was creating with it. Check out the "ArtRage 2" blog entry - the piece is a great study, but what I really like is what he wrote - "it's great if you want to train your eye and practice color matching the hard way." So when the folks at ArtRage contacted me about my potential interest at teaming up for an ArtOrder Challenge,Upload a Entry Competition Details View Entries
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