Adding Detail to My Cover Image

Today I started working with calm intention on my children’s book cover image. After weeks of floundering, I now feel that I can complete this drawing. I’ve passed the point no return — I might as well just plow ahead and accept the end result. However it turns out will be okay.

My usual pattern is to hate the image I’m working on, and then appreciate it when I return to it later. In this case, I’m going to trust my process and call on my inner Art Soldier to fend off the waves of disapproval that my thinking mind keeps pouring out.

8000x4000px Cover Image for Children's Picture Book

Since my children’s picture book will be printed as an 8x8-inch square, I need an image that is two 8-inch squares side by side, with a bit of extra space for the bleed and for the spine. I decided to create an 8000x4000px image. Procreate will allow 12 layers for an image that size. I could have made a smaller image — say 6000x3000px — but I want to make sure that I have lots of headroom pixels to play with. With an 8000x4000-pixel image, I could conceivably go up to 26-inches square — that would be a hella big children’s book. However, for my purposes, having the extra resolution means that I won’t have to redraw this image to increase the resolution.

I started roughing out the image today. I used the camera in my iPad to take a picture of the thumbnail, then I the photo into Procreate. Once there, I scaled it up to fit the 8000x4000 image. I’ll have to figure out how to fit the title text on the page, that’s for sure.

Sketching Ideas for a Cover Page WIthout Knowing What's Expected by the Publisher

Since I don’t have an ISBN number for my book, I can’t use Ingramspark’s Cover Generator to make a template that can be used to plan a cover image. So…I’m just going to look at some books and make a cover. I’m using Maurice Sendak’s Where the WIld Things Are as my model. I know I’ll need some text for the title, author name (Doukat!), the image itself, a barcode, and some room for the spine. My book has 40 pages, not thick enough to print the name of the book, so the cover image will simply wrap around to the back cover. I’m probably missing some significant details, but I’ll add them in when I have access to the Cover Generator.

I pulled out my project sketchbook, which I haven’t used in 8 months, and did some quick sketches that show the front and back covers as one extended image. There’s one example that uses two separate images, one for the back and a family group picture for the back. I lettered in a rough title and place a mock barcode on the back. In one case my brain got twisted around and I drew the barcode on the front.

After months of drawing digitally, working with paper and pencil felt like coming home. There’s no icon telling me that I have a low battery, no layers, no crazy multiplicity of brushes. Just paper and marking tool.

I’m going to turn one of these sketches into a cover. See if you can guess which one.

Redrawing the Cover Image, Take 2

Here’s another version of the cover page. I started to redo this page in Affinity Photo for iPad and ended up using Photoshop. Although it’s cool to be able to edit images on the iPad, I’m a lot, lot, lot more efficient on the big desktop with my Wacom tablet. Even if I were fluent on the iPad, the desktop workflow is smoother and more efficient. For example, on the iPad something as simple as making a selection and deleting it takes 4 or 5 clicks to change from edit mode to select mode then back to edit mode to click a menu to delete. To make it seem more powerful and friendly, Affinity calls these modes “personas.” and the contextual menus are called “studios.” I’m not charmed by the marketing bullshit.

Of course, the real advantage of the iPad is that it’s portable and you can work anywhere, no matter how clunky the software is. Perhaps my gripes will vanish once I’m more accustomed to the subtleties of editing on the iPad.

The revised image, which may be revised again.

Cover image, redrawn and colored, Affinity Photo for iPad, Photoshop