Tag Archives: book cover

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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Don’t Make These 10 Cover Design Mistakes

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When it comes to designing your own book covers, getting it right matters.

But you can do it on your own.

You don’t have to hire a professional designer.

In this article, you’ll learn the ten basic things you should avoid when creating your own book cover. No big words, no fancy descriptions, what you’ll find here is direct and to the point, so you don’t need a design degree to understand and get started quickly.

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When designing your own book cover the last thing you want is for your cover to look like you did it yourself or had a family member do it for you.

It may sound harsh, but too many authors write amazing work only to have it unsuitably represented to the market. They might be great writers but their DIY book covers discourage sales.

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When it comes to graphic design, your own personal preference should not weigh in. It doesn’t matter that purple is your favorite color, it may not go with a cover that’s meant to communicate the overall message of your book, a cover that should generate sales. There is little to no room for subjectivity in graphic design.

Another example of subjectivity is a desire to put a specific scene from your book on the cover. This is a book cover disaster. You will understand the message because you know your book inside and out. A prospective buyer will not understand the context of the scene and will probably overlook the book altogether. If your cover does not clearly communicate its overall message, the chances of getting a reader to buy your book at first glance are lost. Remember, the cover is the first impression that makes the reader dig further and eventually buy.

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That first glance intake should also communicate the genre of your book. If it doesn’t, you’re not sending a clear message.

When a reader is searching through mounds of books for something to read that looks interesting, the genre always plays a role in their choice. If you miscommunicate the genre of your book the chances of it attracting the right readers will mostly slip by.

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A cover that is too simplistic doesn’t have a great potential to catch a reader’s eye and make them want to dig deeper. Simplicity in design might work for well-known authors, but the chances of that style capturing an audience for a new or upcoming author is not likely.

To see the truth in this you can do your own search in different genres and see what cover styles are selling with mostly unknown authors. The styles you see in that search are typically the styles that are working to help generate sales.

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FIVE

Swinging to the other end of the spectrum is just as bad if not worse than simplicity. A book cover that is too busy can be viewed as distracting and unworthy of further investigation. With these types of covers, there is just too much going on.

You only have about one second to grab the reader’s attention visually. A cover that is too full of design elements might just come off as if you puked it out, repelling a potential reader.

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One way you can usually tell that a book cover is homemade is through the imagery. Low-quality images are not worth the money you are spending for the license to use them. Most times, higher quality images or photos come at the same cost. Shop around.

When you are searching for digital art or photos to use on your cover, try a different method of searching to find the right images. What keywords are you using, maybe you should try other keywords that are relevant to the theme of your book, and definitely relevant to its genre.

You don’t need to find a ready-made cover that’s just lacking text. The software programs available for graphic design make you capable of much more. You can choose a photo of a model, add them to the appropriate backdrop, and add other simple elements, like flowers or guns, etc.

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Purchasing the license to use a photo, vector, or illustration is typically pretty straight forward. But there are certain types of images that are not allowed to be used. You need to know what copyright your images are subject to. Below is a link you should check out to be sure you know the basics of what can’t be used on your cover. You might be surprised.

http://www.digitalmedialicensing.org/specialrelease.shtml

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There is such a thing as using too many fonts on your graphic design. Up to three is okay. One specific custom font for the title. One generic, yet custom font for the subtitle, and a custom font that brands your author name. You don’t want to make your author name look too fancy, it should not stand out above the title of your book. You should also use the same font and style for your author name on all of your books unless you are publishing in different genres.

 

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NINE

Speaking of fonts, a weak hierarchy of the text on your book can miscommunicate your message and confuse potential readers. This hierarchy is not just found in different pieces of text but throughout all of the design elements on your cover.

Hierarchy is a term for what carries visual weight from the heaviest element to the lightest in your design. This hierarchy will dictate the viewer’s eye as they take in what’s to be seen. With their gaze flowing from the heaviest elements to the lightest. This is how they absorb your message, through a “sentence” of visual hierarchy.

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When you think you’ve got a great concept layout, always check to see if the cover is clear in thumbnail size. No matter how great you think your design might be, if it isn’t clearly communicating in thumbnail size, it won’t grab attention on a book sales platform.

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Communicating what the reader can expect to get out of reading your book is your most important objective in cover design.

If you stick to these ten rules of what not to do in cover design, you will be well on your way to creating a great book cover.

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If you like what you’ve read or if you have any questions, please leave a comment below.

Your feedback matters!

 

It’s Easy to Design Your Own Graphics

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You really can design your own book covers and author graphics:

With a bit of training, you can start designing almost right away.

You can get the right software if you know what to look for.

From all my talks with indie authors I’ve had over the years, the biggest turnoff to designing for themselves is the software. Either they can’t find good software or it is too hard to learn.

I normally would tell people to leave the designing to the professionals, but not everyone has that in their budget.

Here are some basic design principles you should know:

Before you go purchase software, let me introduce you to some basic design principles. This way you can see that you will be capable enough to give it a go.

Balance

Most of us can tell what looks well balanced and what doesn’t. What you may not know is that there are different forms of balance.

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  • The visual weight of your design elements can be evenly distributed on either side of the design in order to be symmetrical.
  • Asymmetrical balance is the balance achieved through color, scale, and contrast to achieve flow. Most of your designs will be asymmetrical.

Start looking at book covers and graphic designs and point out the flow. Notice how design elements are chosen for their color, scale, and contrast. How each element works with the others to draw the eye to focal points. The design flow will draw your eyes through the elements of the design and to those focal points.

In a matter of seconds, you can decern the mood, the genre, and the theme of the design, hear its message visually. In those few seconds, a reader will decide whether or not you’ve piqued their interest.

Proximity

Proximity creates a relationship between similar or related elements. These elements are visually connected by way of font, color, size, etc. Basically, the things that are related should be nearer to each other.

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Proximity can create relationships between the visual elements in a composition. It can create relevance, hierarchy, organization, and structure. Or, there can also be no relationship between elements, by breaking organization and structure.

Alignment

You will want to be sure that the elements of your design are in alignment. You might center all the text to the centerfold of the design. You might zigzag the flow by centering the top and bottom text, but then staggering a blurb that you want to stand out. You can align elements across a design or diagonally. Watch for different types of alignment and what appeals to you.

Visual Hierarchy

Visual hierarchy is important because it can help lead the viewer through the message of the design. The viewer’s eye will follow this visual hierarchy.

Each element of your design will carry more or less visual weight. More important elements are given extra visual weight to move them up the hierarchy. You can use larger or bolder fonts to highlight the title, etc. What color you use can determine hierarchy. Large to small, bold to soft, bright to dark, top to bottom, left to right, etc., these all are part of a visual hierarchy.

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Repetition

A large part of graphic design is branding. As an author, you will be developing your own visual brand too. Repetition in design is fundamental, but essential when it comes to branding.

Repetition creates a rhythm, it ties together the consistent elements and strengthens the overall design. There are certain elements that will make viewers instantly recognize your brand. These design elements include your color palette, fonts, and your logo.

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Contrast

The contrast will guide the viewer to key design elements. Two opposing design elements create contrast:

  • dark vs. light
  • contemporary vs. old-fashioned
  • large vs. small, etc.

Organization and a hierarchy can be established with contrast. Using contrast is useful in creating visual interest too.

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Color

Color is basic in design and is also used within other principles of design. Color expresses mood so what palette you choose is very important. As a graphic designer, it’s always helpful to have a basic knowledge of color theory, take the time to do a little research. This will pay off hugely in the long run. Do yourself a favor and get yourself a color wheel for easy reference.

Amazon.com: Cox 133343 Color Wheel 9-1/4"-

Negative Space

The space that is left blank in your design is called negative space. And just like dark matter in space, it’s an area that contains nothing flashy, or no design elements. No design elements except for maybe some background color. If used creatively, negative space can help create a shape and highlight the important components of your design.

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by Brian Caldwell

Typography

Typography is a key element in graphic design. It can speak volumes. Typography can set the mood, establish it’s own hierarchy, and even express genre. It’s important not to use overly used fonts in graphic design. Overly used fonts are most of the font’s that come with your common word software. You are better off purchasing your fonts.

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Rules

The only real rule in graphic design is to not use true black or white in your designs, they won’t transfer correctly in printing or on the web. Other than that you are free to design in your own style, whatever that may be.

These principles are your guide to creating great graphics and building a solid brand.

Now to get your software:

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Before you continue to the next section, you should know that I am NOT affiliated with the software listed below. I won’t earn anything if you purchase one of them from any of the links posted.

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Here are the top graphic design platforms:

Affinity Designer: You can get this platform for a one-time payment of $24.99. (2020)

This is awesome software for the price. It will give you all the tools you need to create great graphics and is easy to learn. This platform is smaller in size than others and won’t bog down your computer. You will have access to free updates and Affinity Designer also runs very smoothly and quickly, even on older machines. Here is the link to the tutorials.

Adobe Photoshop: You can get this platform for $20.99 per month. (2020)

I use Photoshop, I like that you can use it for photo editing and compositing, digital painting, and graphic design. It works for all of my design needs when it comes to creating book covers. Photoshop is an excellent program used for creating images, photo editing, and graphics design or to add special effects to images. Vector graphics are not used in photoshop because it is pixel-based software. Here’s the link to their tutorials.

Gravit Designer: This platform is a free full-featured vector graphic design app.

With this platform, you can design from anywhere on any machine. You won’t have the versatility of Affinity or Adobe, but you can make graphics on the fly for blogposts. Gravit is mostly vector-based software, but has image manipulation and editing, and is a good cheap alternative to Affinity. Here is the link to their tutorials. This would be the software I would use if I couldn’t afford Photoshop and Adobe Suites.

Inkscape: This software is free and is a great substitute for Photoshop.

Inkscape is a free open source vector-based software because it does not take the resources of RAM nevertheless you are under MS Windows or Linux Distribution like Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, OpenSUSE, RedHat, etc. Inkscape is better because it has own plugins for bevel and emboss, image manipulations, some times it behaves like photoshop. Here is the link to Inkscapes tutorials.

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These basics will get you started and headed in the right direction. Just remember that learning how to create great designs is a process. You will improve over time. But there’s no reason you can’t create some pretty great graphics right out of the gate.

Good Luck!

 

 

New Cover Design and Free Book

Here’s a fun cover design I did for author Lee Earlywine. He sadly passed away last year from cancer. Lee was a Vietnam Veteran and had so many friends, and friends from all walks of life, all who loved him. He made an impact on the world around him, and an impact on me. 

He became a good friend even though we never had the chance to meet in person. His writing was fantastic, he just blew me away with his talent. He wrote this novel and a second in this series.

I had just started to redesign his book covers before he passed, and this is the first time the new cover for this first book is being shared.

I feel compelled to share his work as long as it’s still available. I think everyone should have the chance to appreciate Lee’s art of writing.

Let me know your thoughts. I appreciate the feedback!

If you’re into this genre – dystopian future – you will LOVE this book! This is one amazing author. Check out the link to Amazon below and you can read this one for free!

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WINTERING OF EVIL AMAZON

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Come see me for your custom cover design with unlimited changes!

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