Five Favourite Book Covers

Book covers come in all kinds of styles and sizes (believe me, the latter gives my bookcase no end of grief) and everyone has their own preferences of what they like. For some, they like minimalist styles with bright colours, others prefer intricate fonts. I’m not entirely sure what my exact favourite type of book cover, but I know its amongst those which take a bit more of an arty and/or graphic twist. So, to give some idea as to what my favourite book covers are, here are five of my favourite ones (in no particular order):

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson (or the UK covers for Sanderson’s books in general)The Final EmpireI love the style of these covers – the use of colour, the art style – all of Sanderson’s books look fantastic on my shelves. The Final Empire is one of my favourites for how evocative it is. With the castle towering above the lone figure, and the blue mist curling around them, the tone of the book is captured perfectly and it really caught my attention as well.

 Pawn of the Phoenix by Jamie McLachlan

Mind of the Phoenix

This is a strange one for me. I don’t normally like books with actual people on the front cover, instead of artistic representations of them. Perhaps this one makes the cut because you cannot actually see her face. Her figure also combines with the rest of the cover to create something eye-catching. The mixture of clockwork, floral design and living creature is interesting to look at and I really like the deep red of the background against the pale grey of her dress.

Twelve Kings by Bradley Beaulieu Twelve Kings

There are two variations of this cover. This one and then a version which appears to be a close up of the figure, without most of the surrounding thorns. I much prefer this version. The dichotomy of light and dark caught my attention as soon as I saw it and I’ve been wanting to read the book ever since (I now own is, so at least I can admire it every day). I really like the symmetry of this cover, with the two swords and archway created by the light and thorns. It gives the cover a sense of strength and really make me want to find out more.

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

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Another one that includes a figure despite my dislike of them on the covers. I think this one works because of the fact it doesn’t look photo-shopped on or like a photograph as most with people on do. There is another cover to this book, a UK version, which I hate – there is so little detail in it and it does not make the book appealing at all. This version however is beautifully composed. The background isn’t distinct, but still looks like a lot of effort has gone into it. I really like the water rising up to frame the figure and you only see half of her face, which gives it a sense of mystery as well.

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

The Lies of Locke Lamora

This cover is just art, pure and simple. You can tell that so much thought has gone into it just by looking at it. The colours are rich yet not over-powering. The background and title takes up 90% of the cover yet it is the small, shadowy figure that captivates you. This was another cover buy for me and the book does not disappoint (it’s brilliant). The other covers in this series are also beautiful but, as the first book in the series, this is the one I’ve picked. I have made it my mission to own them all, however, if just so I can look at them.

Those are five of my favourite book covers. I hope you enjoyed it. What are your favourite book covers? I am really curious to know.

First Time Photoshop

Over the past few weeks, I have slowly been teaching myself how to use Photoshop. I’ve always liked the idea of creating digital art, but find drawing/painting by hand so much easier, particularly with the colouring and shading.

The first challenge I set myself, to basically get the hang of some of Photoshop’s features, was to create a cover photo design for my Facebook account. Since I wanted it to reflect me as a person, I decided to combine an image of myself with Pocahontas, one of my favourite Disney films. This meant that I had a style to work in and so a basis to form my teaching around.

To start with, I drew the basic outline and shape by hand, in pencil to work out the rough design as well as working out a couple of thumbnails to determine the final appearance and colour scheme. Once finishing the initial sketch, I tightened it up and scanned it onto my computer. This was then uploaded onto Photoshop.

Roseanna Norman Passport050

After spending a lot of time browsing the internet for tutorials and advice, I set to work. The first task was to make the sketch workable – converting it to a line drawing. I did this by creating a new layer with no background and using the brush and pen tools to draw over the sketch. This took a lot of trials, but after a lot of perseverance, I got the desired result.

Lineart

After this, there was the colouring. Since I was basing this around Disney, there was not so much detail to go into, mainly the basic colours and a touch of shading. This was a relief since I found the shading tool very hard to use. This part was done by creating, yet again, another layer. This layer was positioned behind the line drawing so that I could colour in without fear of going over and removing the lines. After a rough colour addition (going over the lines and just getting the colours in the basic location), I began to tighten up before shading and removing the white background.

colouredart

Once this part was completed, I created a new image, formatting it to the size that was needed and copied the line-art and colour onto it. The background was the only part I did not do myself, instead clicking the render clouds button. I did this because I knew I wanted clouds in the background and thought I might as well use the tools given to me. After clicking save, I have to say I am quite proud with the final result, particularly since this was my first time using Photoshop. Hopefully next time I will be able to go into more detail and develop my skills even more.

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Summer Projects: Revisited

Today marks the last Friday of my summer holiday. I return to university on Sunday, with bags upon bags in tow. At the beginning of the holidays I wrote a post about the projects I had planned over the summer, so I thought why not go back and see how I did.

1 – Finish ‘The Unnaturals’

This was kind of completed. I wrote the first draft, typing ‘the end’ towards the end of August, before putting it away for a few weeks prior to editing. The editing process has begun, and hopefully the novel will be fully finished before Nanowrimo in November.

2 – Finish a sketchbook.

Unfortunately, the sketchbook I had planned to finished still has a quarter of the pages left empty. This was partly because I ended up either using a smaller one when I went away or separate paper designed for watercolours or acrylics. There was also a matter of time, but as far as I’m concerned that is not really an excuse. I did manage to get some art done, just not as much as I would have liked or had planned.

3 – Learn to use a sew/use a sewing machine

I can say that I accomplished this. While in the post mentioned above, I talked about making a piece of clothing by the end of the summer holidays, I instead made a cushion cover. Clothing proved to be a bit more complicated than I had planned because of patterns and outlines and space. The cushion ended up proving a challenge enough, with all the different stitching involved. Fortunately the book I was using was some help. In the future, maybe an outfit will be created. Who can say?

4 – The Goodreads Challenge

As this challenge extends to the end of the year, I cannot claim it to be officially done, but I have managed to go from nothing at the beginning of the summer (when I first signed up for it), to being 6%/two book ahead of schedule for it. I have read 16 of the 20 books I have to read in half a year, which means I only have to read four books by the end of December in order to complete the challenge. Of course I hope to read more than that, but it makes for an easy goal.

5 – ‘…the other things’

Along with the main projects, I also gave myself a few other things to do over the summer, the first being learning to drive. While I was unable to book an actual test, because no dates became available, I do feel comfortable behind the wheel of a car now, and safe on the road. The other thing was yoga. This was because I know I am not into exercise, and I thought yoga might help keep me a bit more active. It worked. I also ended up running towards the end of the summer in an effort to increase fitness levels, and with the two things combined I felt a definite improvement. The only challenge now would be carrying on with it all.

Those were my summer projects, revisited. Next stop – university, year two.

Rosie

First Draft: Complete

Well I did it. After what has seemed like ages, I have typed those two glorious words: ‘The End’. With the first draft done, a great sense of peace and achievement has descended upon me. I actually did it, the fact is still thinking in. My final word count is at 104,281 words, with 44 chapters. Right now I don’t particularly care about the numbers. I have typed me heart out and written a story I wanted to write.

I did find that completing my first draft unleashed a wave of creativity and inspiration in me. So, to celebrate the end, I decided the channel that energy into painting a portrait of one of my characters as she appears during the climax of the novel. An introduction to this character can be found here, along with a rough version of her appearance. I used that image as a guide tow work from for my painting. This ensured that certain facial features were kept constant, and that the finished piece of artwork resembled the character. Below you can find the final painting as well as a video of the painting process.

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Of course, despite all the celebrations, I am by no means done – there is still plenty of work to do. But first I am going to give myself a break and not even think of the novel. Once it is well and truly out of my mind, and I have prepared myself mentally, that is when the editing process shall begin. In the meantime, I shall begin writing another story I have had in the works, this time the first in a series, so that shall be fun. Who knows, maybe one day I will actually see my name and words in print. One can dream.

Rosie

Practicing Photography

I enjoy photography. There is something quite special about being behind a camera, snapping pictures of the world around you. It is as if you are capturing a moment of time and freezing it forever, making an instant eternal. I am by no means any good at photography. I get confused over aperture and shutter settings; I spend more time on the auto-setting than I probably should. But my lack of professionalism only serves to make me even more pleased when a good photograph comes out. It also makes me appreciate the professionals a lot more. Whereupon I rely on luck, they have skill.

Despite the enjoyment I get from being a complete amateur, I do want to improve my photography and have at least some basic understanding of how it works. So, on one sunny day this summer, I set out to have a go on some of the other settings that were not the automatic button. This mainly consisted of macro, and basic focusing. I still need some practice before being able to go completely manual. Here are a few of the results:

Flower

flower2

bentley2

flower 3

Rosie

Creating with Clay

Long ago, before summer began, and the UK was still awaiting warmth, I took a short pottery course. It was four weeks long and each week we learnt something different. Because of an unfortunately timed exam, I had to miss one session but I still managed to attend the others and learn a bit about the art of clay-making.

Week 1: The Slab Method

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The slab method is essentially creating slabs of clay in different shapes and sticking them together. While it sounds simple, there are a lot of factors to take into account. For instance, making sure there are no bubbles of air in the clay which might cause it to explode upon being placed in the kiln. However it was the easiest of the methods to learn, and we made use of the slabs to experiment with adding texture to the pieces and creating interesting designs.

I used a pre-made template to create a small photo-frame. It did break in the heating process as the connecting bit of clay was not strong enough, but all in all I think it turned out reasonably well. I still need to work out which photo to put in it though.

Week 2: Pinching

SAM_1294

The pinching method was probably my favourite out of all those I tried as, while it was quite difficult, it allowed for the creation of more ambitious projects. The technique involves making two bowls by pinching at a bowl of clay then sticking the bowls together to create a hollow sphere. From there you squeeze at different parts of the sphere, bringing bits out, narrowing areas and reshaping until you get structure of whatever it is you so happen to be making.

My love for dragons made them an obvious subject matter for this week. It took the longest to make, but of the three I managed to create, this was the one I am the most proud of. The design is based off of Kilgharrah from the t.v. series Merlin, but with my own spin as well. The scales, wings and feet were added using the slab method but the rest of it is all down to pinching.

Week 3: Coiling

Unfortunately I was not able to go to this session because I had an exam I needed to focus all my attention on. It does look a lot of fun though so I hope I will be able to get the chance to have a go at it in the future.

Week 4: Practice

SAM_1285

This week we were given the choice of what we wanted to do, and it was this week which everything went wrong for me. I tried about four different things, which included a go at the coiling that I had missed and another pinching project, but in the end I settled for a slab method book-end. The only one that did not go belly up.

The book-end is divided in two, one side being dedicated to music and the other books. This is because I had the idea, while making it, to give it to my dad for father’s day. My dad plays cello and is an avid reader. By designing the book-end as I did, I was able to include both his interests. As it turned out, we did not get our creations back from the kiln until long after father’s day had passed. So I’ll just save it for another occasion.

Rosie

Update: Introducing Tarianne – Villainess

Today has been a remarkable day for writing. Not only have I managed to write 7839 words of my 10,000 Weekend Word Challenge, but I am also 5000 words away from my Camp Nanowrimo 30,000 word aim and I have broken the 70,000 word barrier of my overall novel total. Phew, I am exhausted.

To celebrate this momentous occasion, and because I am feeling quite pleased with myself, I have decided to introduce you to my villain. People of the word, I present to you Tarianne (sorry for the poor quality, my scanner is not that great and it is taken out my sketchbook):

Tarianne026

Tarianne is a character I really want to hate, but can’t help liking. She is the leader of the Luna Witches, but is slowly losing control of the world she created for herself and her followers, sinking further into paranoia as she does so. Gifted since birth with the ability to control blood, she is feared by all those who serve her.

The red eyes you can see in the image represent this gift, as when she uses it her eyes become bloodshot and the veins in her body become more pronounced as blood flow increases near the surface. I was not quite sure how to do bloodshot eyes without it looking weird, so I just left it as that. The crescent moon by her eye also appears on the other side of her face; they are symbols of her allegiance and her gift.

Her name, Tarianne, is a variant of Tarian, welsh in origin and meaning coat-of-arms, or shield. I picked this for her as during her early career, she acted as a kind of shield, defending those who would otherwise have been left to slaughter, all the while becoming a symbol for them to look up to. It reflect who she was and so shows how much she has been corrupted over the years. It also mirrors the name of one of my heroines, Annaliese, in a way. Both include Ann, meaning grace, and so create a kind of duality between the two. And I thought it was a quite awesome name.

That’s all for today. I hope you found that interesting. Bring on tomorrow where I hope to complete my 10,000 Weekend Word Challenge!

Rosie