Tag Archives: Book Cover Design

Color Theory 101 for DIY Authors

Color expresses emotion, variations in temperature, it can also invoke reactions from its expression. Red can be angry, wild, danger, love, death. Colors can cause us to think and feel an assortment of things so you want to choose the colors of your designs with care.

Understanding how colors relate to one another and how they are created is the necessary place to begin. Color theory is something every designer and artist must know in order to create aesthetically pleasing designs in the software available to them.

Color theory is fun. Once you know how the colors relate to one another you can start building and designing with your own color palettes. Making those color palettes is fascinating because you can pull colors off of pictures and scenery in life, or you can build your own based on how colors work in relation to each other. Seeing your design grow from these beginnings to completion is remarkably satisfying.

Inside your design software, you will have a color picker and color wheel that you can choose colors from either by sight or by number. Colors by number are called HTML color codes and every color has one, see this table. You do not have to choose a color by its number, but knowing its number is a great way for you to build color palettes for your design projects.

I have a paper color wheel at home that I always refer to and it’s handy to have because I’m hands-on and a visual learner. You might want to get one too to play around with, it’s a great interactive way to learn the concepts of color theory and to start coming up with some artistic ideas of your own.

To purchase a color wheel for use at home you can find them at this link from Amazon.

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 A painter mixes all of their colors beginning with only the three primary colors. Mixing the primary colors will get you secondary colors, and mixing primary and secondary colors will get them tertiary colors. The artist can then add tints tones or shades using black and white to create all of the additional hues they might need.

Your job is to set a scene and appeal to the viewer’s senses by using combinations of the colors found in the first three phases, primary, secondary, and tertiary.

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These are your major colors that, when used correctly, can entice the viewer to investigate further. Rather than choosing a random scene for the cover of your book, which often only serves to confuse your audience, you can begin the layout of your graphic with a strategic color plan that can speak volumes about your book. When done correctly, color has more effect than most subject matter.

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Even with a good starting point, you’ll still typically need variations of hues to create your overall design. And no worries, hues are relatively simple. The following is a simple breakdown of color samples and how to create them.

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Hue: Hue is pretty much synonymous with what we actually mean when we say the word “color.” All of the primary and secondary colors, for instance, are “hues.”

Shade: You may recognize the term “shade” because it’s used quite often to refer to light and dark versions of the same hue. But actually, a shade is technically the color that you get when you add black to any given hue. The various “shades” just refer to how much black you’re adding.

Tint: Tint is the opposite of shade, but people don’t often distinguish between a color’s shade and a color’s tint. You get a different tint when you add white to a specific color. So, a color can have a range of both shades and tints.

Tone (or Saturation): You can also add both white and black to a color to create a tone. Tone and saturation essentially mean the same thing, but most people will use saturation if they’re talking about colors being created for digital images. Tones will be used more often for painting.

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CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key (Black).

CMYK works on a scale of 0 to 100. If C=100, M=100, Y=100, and K=100, you end up with black. But, if all four colors equal 0, you end up with true white.

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RGB color models are designed for electronic displays, including computers.

For computers, RGB is created using scales from 0 to 255. So, black would be R=0, G=0, and B=0. White would be R=255, G=255, and B=255.

When you’re creating color on a computer, your color module will usually list both RGB and CMYK numbers. If you’re designing digital images, RGB is best to use. But remember to design in CYMK for your book covers or they will come out much darker than the original design when they are printed.

Creating Color Schemes

Now that we’ve got all of the basics out of the way, let’s talk about how to actually use this newfound knowledge.

You’ve probably noticed before that some colors look great together and others … just don’t. The colors we choose can help enhance a design, or it can take away from a design.

When you’re figuring out how to design a graphic, it’s important to remember that how we perceive colors depends on the context in which we see them.

Never use black or white as they aren’t true colors and can often blend with the background color of many websites and platforms. You’ll find that a tint of most hues will work just fine as white, and shades of many hues work perfectly to achieve a black appearance.

Color context refers to how we perceive colors as they contrast with another color.

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Analogous structures do not create themes with high contrasting colors, so they’re typically used to create a softer, less contrasting design. For example, you could use an analogous structure to create a color scheme with autumn or spring colors.

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Using a monochromatic scheme allows you to create a color scheme based on various shades and tints of one hue. Although it lacks color contrast, it often ends up looking very clean and polished. It also allows you to easily change the darkness and lightness of your colors.

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Triadic color schemes are great if you want contrast, but they can also seem overpowering if all of your colors are chosen on the same point in a line around the color wheel. To subdue some of your colors in a triadic scheme, you can choose one dominant color and use the others sparingly, or simply subdue the other two colors by choosing a softer tint.

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The complementary color scheme provides the greatest amount of color contrast. Because of this, you should be careful about how you use complementary colors in a scheme.

It’s best to use one color predominantly and use the second color as accents in your design.

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The split-complementary color scheme can be difficult to balance well because unlike analogous or monochromatic color schemes, the colors used all provide contrast (similar to the complementary scheme).

Adobe Color

This free online tool allows you to build color schemes based on the color structures described above. Once you’ve chosen the colors in any scheme, you can copy and paste the HEX or RGB codes into whatever program you’re using.

It also features hundreds of premade color schemes for you to explore and use in your own designs. If you’re an Adobe user, you can easily save your themes to your account.

Once you find the color “themes” of your document, you can open up the preferences and locate the RGB and HEX codes for the colors used.

You can then copy and paste those codes to be used in whatever program you’re using to do your design.

Things to Remember

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I hope this helps you on your DIY journey to amazing author graphics!

Author Graphics: A Crash Course On Color

When it comes to graphic design you want to make the right connection with potential readers. You want to attract them. Your color scheme is crucial, not only in the design of your book cover but also in the design of your author brand. Your book is a part of your brand so the colors you choose say a lot about what you have to offer on a larger perspective – your brand plays a big part in what will keep readers coming back for more.

The mood of your book is reflected through the color scheme you choose for your cover. This tells potential buyers what your book has in store for them. A mistake many DIY authors make in cover design is choosing a picture that describes the theme of their book, but whose colors lack the ability to reflect the mood.

Your brand tells your audience what themes you have to offer as a writer. It sets the stage for all of your books to come. Your brand should complement your books, your style.

You want both the right images and the right mood to market yourself. Understanding the way colors affect the majority of us will help you know exactly what colors will work best for all of your graphics. I’ve listed genres of books most likely to contain certain colors, but you can use all colors, although some will be more dominant.

Here’s a helpful resource with advice you will want to consider while creating graphics that will work for you…

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The psychology of color:

Color speaks to us. Each color ignites an emotional reaction within us. It’s your job to choose the colors that elicit the right emotion in your audience, color speaks for your story louder than you may realize.

It’s been proven in scientific studies that color evokes specific emotions in almost everyone. How our brain perceives what it visualizes is relative to the psychology of color. The way that colors influence our minds is used in marketing to influence our purchasing decisions. The color of your book cover makes the first impact, it sparks a reaction in the potential buyer before they focus in on the image or title. This is your chance to make them look a little closer and not pass you by.

The look of your book is the major influence on a consumer’s buying decision. When it comes to your cover, you will want to get serious. Understanding the psychological impact of the colors you choose is imperative. That decision will make a difference in how many copies you sell or how much attention your marketing attracts.

Check out the following descriptions of how color can affect us. This will be a great help when you start designing.

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Romance – Erotica – Cook Books – Non-Fiction: Red is known to elicit strong emotions in almost everyone. It increases passion and intensity and can also increase appetite.

Horror – Thriller – Mystery: Probably because red is the color of blood, it is related to survival, alertness, and safety. Stop signs, for example, are red for safety purposes. Red is also associated with danger.

Graphic designers know that red is known to increase the heart rate, so they use it in their graphics to attract impulsive shoppers. In marketing, red creates a sense of urgency.

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Self Help – Romance – Nonfiction: Orange is warm and inviting, it stirs a joyful excitement or intrigue and interest. It also stimulates the mind and offers encouragement. Orange encourages viewers to look on the bright side of things. In marketing, orange is used to influence impulsive shoppers because it encourages them to buy.

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Romance – Children’s – Non-Fiction: Yellow can be used in almost any design because it makes people think and grabs their attention. You’ll want to steer clear of using too much yellow because that could cause anxiety. Yellow can also invoke cheerfulness. It represents youthfulness, optimism, and clarity.

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Fantasy – Non-Fiction: Green is a warm color that soothes depression. In marketing, green is associated with wealth. This color represents health and calm, especially new growth. It is also a symbol of fertility.

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Fantasy – Spiritual – Non-Fiction: In marketing, brown is associated with dependability, reliability, and resilience. Brown is a base color in nature and is great for fantasy books and can be used as back-drop color for them as well as spiritual or some non-fiction books.

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Non-Fiction – Spiritual: Blue gives off a sense of confidence and increases productivity. In marketing, most businesses use blue in their brand because it creates a sense of security and trust. It is a calm and safe color that inspires clarity and creativity. Different shades of blue are great for the entrepreneur, and any book cover where its attributes are relative to the theme.

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Fantasy – Erotica – Historical Fiction: Women are drawn to purple, it is the color of creativity, mystery, and regeneration. Purple contains the stability of blue and the energy of red. Purple is not a good color for non-fiction marketing because it can influence too much introspection and can be a distraction.

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You should never use pure white in design because it will blend into the backdrop of webpages. Use different shades of white for a clean look, to express perfection. This color is mainly used as a secondary color to bring attention to a portion of your design hierarchy.

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Just like white, you should never use pure black in your designs for exactly the same reasons. Some webpages and backdrops are pure black, and your design will disappear in them. Lighten your black a bit and mix it with a different color, so at first glance, it will appear to be black but will still stand out on the web.

Black represents a degree of sophistication, mystery, power, and control. Black in your design can also represent a darker nature or negativity.

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When you’re choosing your colors, your last step will be to choose a hue or two that highly contrast with your main color pallet. You can use these colors to highlight areas that you want your viewer to focus on or have their focus drawn to. You can also use these colors with your fonts. In fact, fonts are often used for the same effect, to draw the eye by being large or expressive.

Not all of the reasons you’ve read here should be taken into account when choosing your colors for the cover of your book. What you do want to always keep in mind is the theme of your book and what colors will represent that theme the best while also invoking the right response from potential readers.

For author graphics, you’re wanting to set the right mood to attract attention to whatever you are marketing at that time, a blog post, the release of your book, etc.

Good luck with your graphics!

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Your feedback is appreciated! Questions and comments are welcome!

Why Authors Need to Understand Color Blindness

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When it comes to cover design and graphics the last thing most DIY authors will think to consider is color blindness. With almost 10% of the world having some form of color blindness, an amount nearly equal to the population of the United States, this affliction is something everyone should consider when it comes to graphic design. If you suffer from color blindness what comes next can help you create great designs too.

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Types of Color Blindness

It’s good to know the different types of color blindness in order to appreciate what your colorblind viewers will be seeing in your designs.

Color blindness doesn’t mean that you only see in black and white; that is one form of color blindness, although it is very rare.

Color blindness is most common in reds and greens and then less commonly in blues and yellows. This is where color blindness relates to the difficulty in distinguishing between certain shades of certain colors. Some colors tend to blend into one another.

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Some Rules for Designing

  1. Avoid the following color combinations: these color combinations are difficult for people with colorblindness: Green & Red; Green & Brown; Blue & Purple; Green & Blue; Light Green & Yellow; Blue & Grey; Green & Grey; Green & Black.
  2. Make it monochrome: Take the design you’ve made in your design platform and switch it to grayscale mode. When you are seeing it in only black and white and shades of gray, you can easily spot where colors may blend together for someone with colorblindness.
  3. Use high contrast: High contrast is something to consider in design because people affected by colorblindness can usually distinguish between colors when there is a high degree of contrast.
  4. Colors won’t signal emotion: color for most people symbols mood and evokes emotion, but it won’t for people who are color blind. Make sure you are adding good design elements beyond color to relate mood or stir emotion.
  5. Use texture instead: in maps and infographics you can try using texture in addition to color to differentiate between objects.

For designers’ it will help to see what a person who is colorblind might be seeing when they’re viewing their designs. Some of these links are also helpful to designers who suffer from colorblindness. If you are wanting to get it right, here are some links to help you do just that.

  • Colorblind Web Page Filter: here you can just type in a URL and choose which type of colorblind filter you’d like to apply. Now you can see your design in that form of colorblindness.
  • Coblis: another great colorblind simulation application.
  • Color Laboratory: this will help you choose which colors will work well together for a colorblind viewer.
  • Color Oracle: color blindness simulation for Windows, Mac and Linux users.
  • Color contrast visualizer: this will help any designer choose good color combinations.

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Design Help for the Colorblind

There is no reason why you can’t create great designs even if you’re colorblind. All you need to get started are some great color pallets. Below is a link to a site that will help you whether you are colorblind or not, to create pallets that will work in every single design you create.

Coolers: this sight will help you create beautiful color pallets that you can then use in your graphic design software.

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Are You Color Blind?

Many people have some form of color blindness and aren’t aware of it. Here’s a link to a test to find out if color blindness affects you:

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I want to thank my editor for reminding me that I hadn’t included this section in my cover design book! He’s the best! I recommend Dennis to all of my clients:

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Thanks Dennis!

 

 

Update! Check Out My Progress!

As most of you may know, I was out of commission for over a year with a neck injury and it put my work and my writing on hold. The doctors said I had bone spurs and degenerative disc disease. The pain came on suddenly and was debilitating. I couldn’t work at all, I was devastated.

Over a period of ten months, they tried all sorts of things to give me relief, but nothing worked. Nothing even touched on relieving the pain and my right arm, my dominant arm, was useless. It was the most boring ten months of my life! I missed my clients and my online friends.

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I have since had neck surgery which made all the difference in the world. Slowly I regained the use of my right arm and finally, I’m back to doing what I love.

Check out my new work in progress!

I’m excited now because I have finally finished the first draft of my new book for independent authors!

This book was meant to be complete and published two years ago, but now I’m a third of the way into the rewrite since my recovery, and aiming for publishing in July! I’ll be offering it for free on the first day of publication!

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In this book, I”m excited to be giving you the real secrets behind professional graphic designs and creating amazing book covers.

Other cover design “how-to” books aren’t sharing what it really takes to create those great designs.

There’s a lot to know when it comes to designing book covers and my goal is to address what you’ll need in a way that you can easily digest, understand, and put to use.

I’ve included plenty of illustrations throughout the book for those who gravitate toward visual learning.

I know where you can get the perfect images, all designers do, but no-one is sharing this info. Pssst…I will!

I will also give you links to the great design platforms, even free alternatives, that will allow you to design like the pros.

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Do you design your own book covers?

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Enter to Win: Free Book Cover Design May 1st, 2020

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Giving Makes Me Smile 🙂

I am excited to be getting the word out about the upcoming drawing I’ve scheduled for this May 1st, 2020.

I started this drawing as a way of giving back to the Indie Author Community: I consider myself blessed because I get to do what I love within the publishing industry and I just want to pay it forward.

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Everyone is welcome to enter for a prize of a free design package that includes: Trade Paperback Cover (front-back-spine) and eBook cover, two 3D Covers, and a Book Teaser.

  • Trade Paperback Cover (front-back-spine) and eBook Cover
  • Two 3D Covers
  • A Book Teaser

Winners also receive an invitation to be interviewed on this blog for their upcoming book release.

All winners will be announced and listed on the ‘Winning Authors’ page along with their new cover design and a link to the book’s point of sale.

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There are no hidden fees!


Enter today! This drawing takes place on May 1st, 2020 and the prizes can be claimed anytime.

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Send me an email telling me a little about yourself and your book to enter.

If your name is drawn as the winner, I’ll contact you via email with the happy news.


Enter To Win Below

Good Luck!

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