This week I thought we’d do something fun. I haven’t done any case studies on the projects we’ve done at Blue Sun, but one of our latest projects for Eliza Fayle from Silver & Grace was so much fun I had to share.
We get many projects across our desks and all of them present their own unique challenges. When Eliza came to us needing a redesign for her tarot/intuition workshop guide book, she had a very specific vision in mind. She wanted an ethereal quality to the cover, one where the figure of the woman could either be a goddess or a Faery Queen infused with the power of the universe.
Wendi and I both saw the same thing the second Eliza told us this. “She’s describing Olivia.” Wendi said, referring to Olivia Morgan, a character in our novel, Loyalties.
The image we all saw in our heads was a woman in a long gown, with flowing silvery-white hair, standing on the shores of a moon-drenched lake.
But how many stock photos have that? Let alone women with white hair? We needed a model who could be in her 40s. She had to imply strength and confidence, and total joy in having found her own power.
After searching terms like “faeries”, “spiritual”, “joy”, and “white hair women”, we came up empty. Oh, there were plenty of images in the searches, but nothing that made us sit up and say “That’s it!”
I knew right then, this cover was going to have to be a composite design with a lot of special effects. Was I up for the challenge? You bet!
The Beauty of Photoshop
Photoshop is an amazing program. I’ve been working with it for nearly 15 years now and I’m still learning something new with every project. When an image is manipulated properly, the results are stunning. When it’s not? Then you get the bloopers you see on Photoshop Disasters.
But even the disasters can teach you something.
Eliza’s cover began with the image of the woman you see at the right. When you can’t find the exact image to start with, you have to find images that are as close as possible. In some respects, making a composite image is like house hunting. You’re looking for the potential in each element of any given photo.
This image had the right pose, the right clothes and the right hair. The background wasn’t what I really wanted, and I’d have to change the woman’s hair color, but overall, this was definitely a good start.
The next thing I needed was a new environment to put our “Olivia” into. When searching through images for your book covers, keep in mind the kind of orientation you’re using. Eliza wanted this ebook to have a landscape (horizontal) orientation. That means the book is wider than it is tall. Trying to cram a vertical image into a horizontal space, and vice versa, doesn’t always work. You either have too much or too little to work with once you try to proportionally reduce the image to fit the space.
Background images for landscape covers and things like website banners always work best with panoramic photos. The wider the view, the better. That’s why I chose this panoramic image of a lake at twilight:
This image had plenty of room for me to pick and choose which sections worked best. I decided on using most of the left hand side, with the shoreline showing.
Now the fun began. This isn’t a tutorial, so I won’t go on and on for pages with all the technical details (but if you all want tutorials, let me know!). In short, I used a lot of masking, layers and various filters and effects to get the look I wanted. The hair was the most challenging because I didn’t want her to look like she had a pile of tin foil on her head.
The figure itself had to be broken down in to a few different parts. Her right arm needed to have a glow all around it and parts of the gown needed some lighting effects added to catch the glow just right. Those were all separated out to their own layers and worked on individually.
The moonbeams started out as solid white streaks on another layer and then blurred and decreased in opacity. The sparkly stars were done with several different Photoshop brushes.
I was having so much fun with the effects I had to be careful not to overwork the image. It’s easy to get carried away and end up with a mess rather than a pleasing cover.
The end result stunned everyone, including myself. I knew I was in the “zone”, working on intuition, from the way I felt when I was done. I couldn’t believe I did this. Where did it come from? Everything went together so smoothly. The whole thing flowed. It was one of those projects where the first draft was a definite winner.
Developing Our Intuitive Self is a gorgeous ebook inside and out. But if you want a peek at the inside, you’re going to have to hop on over to Silver & Grace.
Developing Our Intuitive Self is available through download here, and sells for $4.99 CAD through PayPal. Or, you can receive the ebook for free when you sign up for Eliza’s Basics of Oracle Cards online workshop.
And if you’d like us to work our magic on one of your ebooks or book covers, contact us!