Where Aegean Sun: Room 101 had a certain voyeuristic quality. So far that the reader could only view to the events occurring in one room; this sequel breaks out of the mould and does an excellent job of breaking from its predecessor’s shadow.
This sequel aims to close the loop on stories which had occurred previously. It was wonderful to see what effects their time abroad had on these characters. Some relationships grew closer, some were created, and others were blown apart.
While there are some stories from Aegean Sun: Room 101 that had no closure such as Jill and Mike’s scare with cancer. Or what happened to Laura and Suzi after their trip, the stories Stephanie Wood choose to pursue were well worth the read!
Overall this novel is a light quick read, which left me glad that I could consume it one go!
I was playing around with my camera, intent on creating a featured image for another post. However, when I looked at the finished product it got me thinking. I know! Rather dangerous for an author!
During a flash of creative inspiration, the world I see is both pristine and clear. I could spend weeks writing that scene in all of its exquisite detail. How is that a problem? Like a lightning strike at night, details vanish as soon as they appear.
When looking at the shot, it sets the scene for someone collecting items and ingredients needed to bake a cake. In the picture there are ingredients, a tablet displaying the recipe, candles for later and even some serving plates.
However, once the flash is gone the minds rendition is no longer vibrant. In this case, the richness of reds have bled out from the shot. There is also a lack of detail and the image is cropped in such a way to prevent viewers from getting a sense of the bigger picture.
Like any story there are also inconsistencies or plot holes. How could someone make a cake without eggs, butter or vanilla extract? Why is a candle lit even though the cake is not ready?
Only after extensive reviews, reader input and hard work will author’s rendition approximate the original flash of inspiration. The reds will be more vibrant, the scene will sport a delicious cake that will make readers drool.
To think you can just taste that thick icing and marble cake… Wait? It was Maple Syrup cake originally!
This article is a great read, however it did make me consider certain assumptions I made in the past. Becoming great at something does not mean we are great in all aspects. The author mentioned that she was good at being a seamstress, however that alone would not make her a great fashion designer. Sure a seamstress can mend clothing or follow a pattern, but could she create a new line of clothing on her own? Alternatively, does a good fashion designerneed to be a good seamstress? The answer is likely no.
When it comes to being a writer what elements are required to be successful? Does an author need to be a great wordsmith, an awe-inspiring editor, excellent at assembling realistic dialogue or just creative? A writer, like being a designer require more than one skill in order to be successful in my mind. An author may have not be able to go toe-to-toe against the worlds foremost Grammar-Nazi, however if the author can create compelling worlds, they will likely gain a following.
Even the above fails to take in every aspect. Being a great wordsmith and having the ability to create worlds that people fall in love with their works, will by itself not guarantee an audience. Self-published authors are expected to grow an audience, else they will never gain traction. So that means there is also a bit of luck thrown into the mix, and there people are required to grow their brand. Most authors cannot afford to be so arrogant that they alienate their followers.
The author also noticed that many seem to give up on their dreams. I found that people tend to avoid doing things because they cannot be the best as it or they cannot handle the competitive atmosphere. In a way, being a nameless cog in the corporate machine is healthier (for some) than being in a perpetual survival mode.
I also want to note that the 10,000 hour mastery rule has been debunked. That number was normalised and is based on a specific field who were tested at a certain age. Essentially, it serves a number which equates to the amount of effort required to master a discipline. Mastery of any field requires time and dedication, regardless of their global ranking. However that number is not the same for everyone, the truly gifted will need a lot less time.
Bravo was originally released along with two (2) other variants and was by far the most popular of the three (3). Feedback shown below led to the creation of other variants.
“Bravo caught my attention better than the others.”
“Bravo looks the most professional, although the fonts are kind of sterile.”
“I’m not a fan of any of them. They all scream —self-published— in the worst of ways.”
“None of them say horror to me. If you’re sold on using the image, I’ definitely try to bring it out in the fonts. Look at some popular horror titles and see what they use. That will give you an idea of what communicates —horror— to readers.”
Overall, the points brought forward were related to the choice of font and how the cover did not fit the ideal horror cover. The Portrait does not subscribe to the modern ideals of horror, at least in terms of gore playing a large part.
People expected to see streaks of blood, fangs protruding from the lady’s mouth or vast amounts of gore. This worked against the story of the premise where the supernatural settings are concealed for most of the novel and would potentially spoil the surprise!
There was a noticed distaste for the red borders employed with this particular variant. While I initially believed that they infused the cover with a bit of colour, people predominantly disagreed and preferred to have no transitions as all.
Over all I managed to pick up a few points to work on:
Keep some distance between the outside edges of the image and the font. Text elements are more likely to remain visible if the image needs to be truncated or applied to a printed cover;
The use of red for fonts to add in colour may not work out as expected. Reddoes not display well in black and white images;
There is a strong preference for covers to use an image covering the whole of the visible area. This led to the development of Hotel and India variations which are covered later;
Font selection is key and has been discussed before. There was a strong push for Trajan Pro as a general-purpose font.
Some recommendations were applied to Bravo which created the variant below. While it does not address all of the faults, it does provide an incremental improvement.
A Hotel Visit
Hotel was a variant that aimed to make use of different fonts that would grab the attention of a potential reader. This version also made use of transparencies and the outer glow effect which differs from other versions. While Hoteluniversally reviled in comments it does have certain features that were fun to explore.
You will need to make use of the Lady Normal Base, to proceed with this aspect of the tutorial.
The cover size is longer than the original image allows . To achieve this we needed to create a mirror image copy then join them at the seams. This increases the space above her head to prevent the Author’s Name from obstructing her face.
From the Image menu, selectCanvas Size.
A newWindow appears, which permits you to adjust the Size of the canvas. Increase the Height of to 16000 pixels then ensure Placement is set to Bottom, Middle as shown:
Click on the OK button, which adds an empty space above the image found.
Using the Selection Tool, make a copy of the top portion of the Base then Paste as a New Layer. You up with two copies of the Top with the new selection that needs to be flipped.
From the Image MenuselectFlip then Flip Vertical.
Line-up the images as though they were part of a mirror image. Once satisfied with the merger, right-mouse click on the layers then from the MergePopup-MenuselectMerge All (Flatten).
This operation will merge both layers together. You may need to experiment until the connection is seamless.
Next add the Author, Title and Taglines. As mentioned previously, Layer Styles for Author and Title employ of Outer Glow, Emboss and Transparencies to get the desired effect. To reproduce the effects showcased on the cover the following fonts were used.
Title — Bebas Neue Bold
Author — Oleo Script
Tagline — Cinzel (Bolded)
For Layer Stylesadjust until settings match the options below:
The next step is to adjust the Outer Glow, set it to match those shown below:
While there are a lot of ways to adjust transparency, you can do so from the GeneralTab of the Layer Properties window. Copy the settings found below then save it for later use. This ensures consistency when applying it to other layers.
The Tagline only makes use of Emboss, copy the settings below to match our style.
The Tagline only makes use of Emboss, copy the settings below to match our style.
You end up with a cover which looks roughly like our sample.
A Trip to India
India was not one of my designs. Ironically, an acquaintance used a phone app to whip up a design she felt worked well. This formed the basis for cover design used on The Portrait.
Other than making use of Lady Ethereal as a base, this design uses techniques which have been explained before. To the following fonts were used:
This is Part 5 of the Dressing up the Cover tutorial and previously we covered Borders and Text.
Make use of the Pick Tool from the Tools Bar to reduce the size of Lady Shade until she fits within the confines of the borders. Take your time to ensure that the resize operation is done using one of the Corners to maintainAspect Ratio.
Sometimes the Pick Toolwill notResize. Attempts to modify will instead alter the Perspective which is not the desired behaviour. To correct this behaviour change the Mode to Scale.
After completing your adjustments Lady Shade should look roughly like below.
Now is the time to add a Tagline, a sentence or short paragraph which is used to grab a reader. Since we not use complex Layer Styles for this section we can go ahead and create it one layer.
The Liberation Sans Font was used for the tagline. The Font Size was set to 72 Points so we can work on it later. Note that Bold or Italics in the Font Styles were not selected.
To match our example the following line was used:
A vision from the
past becomes a
Once the text is inserted, resized then moved the appropriate location (shown below) the image should resemble the following.
Next make use of Layer Styles to finish up the Text Lines and Borders. From the Layers Panel, select one of your Author’s Name Layer’s then click on the Layer Styles icon.
The Layer Properties window will open and feature effects applicable to layers. As seen below, operations range from Reflection and Drop Shadow effects.
For the Title and Author we want to make use of the Emboss style, use the settings above then click on OK to set the Layer Style. This process must be repeated for each layer, so save these settings to use as pre-sets. This will ensure consistency throughout all of the elements.
Now for the Tagline Layer, we will adjustDrop Shadow. You can copy the settings found above, to provide a subtle shadow effect to create the illusion the tagline floating over-top the Lady Shade Layer.
UseLayer Styles to Emboss the Borders as well. Once complete the cover should appear as it does below.
To continue with our design, we need to addtwo rectangles that have a Black Border and Fill. From the Tools Bar, select the Rectangle Tool.
Createtwo new Rectangles, one at the top and the second at the bottom and have them in the same Vector Layer to manage. Also ensure the Lady Shade layer is just above the Background Layer else the rectangles will be obscured.
Now create a Rectangle that has a Red Border and Fill. This one will be small and narrow to create a transition between the Lady Shade Layer and the Filler Layer. Duplicate this RectangleusingCTRL-C/CTRL-V combinations then move them over the transition points.
These two Rectangles should be grouped as this permits the application of consistent Layer Styles later on. This Borders Layer should then be placed on top the Filler Layer.
The image should appear like the one shown below.
Now it is time to add text. For now, we will work on the Title and the Author’s Name. These elements are prominently found on covers, although the prominence of the Author’s Name tends to vary with name recognition.
From the Tools Barselect the Text Tool.
As seen above, the Neuton Font was used for both the Title and Author’s Name. Since we are working at high resolutions, setting the Font Size to 72 Points and Bold is enough to both select and adjust at a later time.
Because Layer Styles will be used later on, the Title and Author’s Name are broken into smaller chunks. The image below denotes the different segments by alternating colours.
Using the tricks learned in Higher Resolution Blues, we lined up then Link the layers for both the Title (3) and Author’s Name (4).
Make sure to line up the individual elements before making any alterations. Once dimensions change, replicating the change in individual components is difficult to achieve. To adjust a line, select all layers by holding down the SHIFT key.
Experiment with these Text Lines until it looks like the image below. Be aware that you may need to move the Border Layers in addition to adjusting the Filler Layers to achieve this result.
When you want to resize a Text Line, always do so from the Corners. Using the other methods will stretch and skew the Text Line.