I thought this might be of interest to people. I wanted to highlight a few things the way I work with cover designers, and how some subtle changes can make a huge difference.
These posts have been published with the permission of Luciano Fleitas, the artist.
To begin, this is the brief:
The werewolf is tall, broad with white fur and sickly greenish-yellow eyes, is humnaoid and should probably dominate a good portion of the cover. It’s intelligent and can use frost magic, which forms long ice talons on its hands, but I don’t know if that’s too detailed for what we’re going for.
Have the MC’s back be shown. Eris, the heroine, ignores the MC’s order to run away and stays and fights the werewolf. One of her powers is that she can manifest armor around her and it’s the first time in the story she uses it.
So I would have the cover focus on her probably in the middle of the transformation. The armor is black and pools from underneath her skin so maybe have it all the way up to her neck but leave her face exposed and have her tensed ready to fight.
For the MC he is about 6,0 broad shouldered but still a thinner build. Martial artist physique over a body builder. Long copper colored hair that’s tied back in a ponytail and slightly elongated ears. Not nearly as long as Eris’ but tapered to a point slightly. Duran is slightly tanned but still on the paler side of white and his outfit is dark blue leather armor with plate mail covering his vital spots like chest and back. In between light armor and heavy armor.
For Eris, use the image as a basis, as the artist almost nailed her design perfectly. One thing though is her hair is a bit different. It’s shoulder length, maybe just past her chin and thick and wavy rather than straight and fine like it looks. She also has two sets of canines on her upper and bottom row of teeth. So eight instead of four. If she’s going to have her mouth open at all. She’s small and thin 5,1 or so with a petite frame. Her outfit would be a light green shirt and brown skirt, but if we’re doing a battle scene she would be in the middle of transformation into her hive armor which is black chitin which pools out of her skin.
This is a LitRPG fantasy, but it’s darker fantasy, so I’d want to mute the colours a little in the surroundings and clothing, have it a little bloodier than the cover I’m attaching. The cover is kind of format I’m thinking, though you might want to play with the composition a little to fit the transforming female and the guy who is still the MC.
This briefing was a combination of work between me and the actual author, with some of the comments on composition and colouring from me. For the most part though, we wanted to give the artist more opportunity to play with the work but give him enough information to begin the sketches.
Next, Luciano sent us a couple of sketches, and made some minor amendments. We eventually got back this:
Gorgeous start, but I wanted him to make it a little more gritty for the final. By the way, I am showcasing this work as thumbnails, because that’s how most people see this work.
Gorgeous work already. This wasn’t done, but he wanted our comments on it. Grayson had some comments to bring the characters more in line with the brief. My focus was on other things. Following is what I sent over:
Could we lighten the colouring in the sky a little more (top right) and, thus the lighting on her back and his. I’d also like it if we could increase the glint or light reflection on his sword too, so that the eye naturally moves to the claw (maybe a little more light there) ( (from the top right, high visibility and ending with the title), her; to the edge of his sword and then ending with the name that will be at the bottom.
This was the next iteration. Again, gorgeous work but I still wanted to adjust a few minor things. Specifically, the font and title and the way the eye shifts across the thumbnail. I wanted a little more contrast on the fonts, the lighting and contrast on the werewolf’s hands and the angle of the protagonist neck changed so that it looked better while in thumbnail size.
And this was the final amendment on the graphics. Notice the minor colour changes and contrast elements, with both the font and the hands has changed how the thumbnail looks.
This isn’t a change in the underlying art but in contrast and how a viewer’s eyes will track over the thumbnail.
Minor changes, but with a focus to showcase the work as a cover and lead the eye downwards without bouncing off the image entirely.
Next week, we’ll discuss what a good font can do.
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