Tag Archives: cover designer

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.

ORANGE copy

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.

YELLOW copy

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.

GREEN copy

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.

Brown copy

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.

BLUE copy

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.

PURPLE copy

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.

WHITE copy

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.

BLACK copy

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!

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!

 

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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How to Create a Book Cover Concept

Every author wants the perfect cover for their book.

A cover that will sell copies!

And that’s the frame of mind you need to have when it comes to your book cover design concept.

What is a concept in graphic design?

Although the answer to this question may seem pretty straight forward, it’s not. Your cover design concept is how you show the world what they can expect from your book. What you need is a plan that integrates images, fonts, content, and context. Content is the value your readers will derive from the book. Context is the circumstances of your book, its environment, and its genre.

What won’t sell copies?

There are a lot of things a designer will tell you that you shouldn’t do in concept design. But the three following things will get you by to start.

A scene from your book:

Although it can be seriously tempting to want to use a great scene from your book as the cover design, it will not translate to the viewer. You want to communicate through your design what the reader will get out of the book. Your cover should express your genre and what the book delivers.

Too much information:

You might think that in order to communicate your story to the reader, you will need several different images put together in one busy design. Bad idea! Too much for the eyes and mind to absorb in a flash of a second is distracting. You want to keep it simple.

A lack of cohesion:

Fonts matter. Don’t use common fonts that come with Word. That’s a design no-no. Go get some custom fonts. Use the same font and size for your author name on every book and place your name in the same spot on every book. Don’t use more than three fonts. Make sure the first and second fonts don’t clash. They should be in the same family of fonts. And it goes without question that you shouldn’t use custom fonts that will clash with your genre. If you are working on a series of books, you should follow a common theme and use the same fonts on all of them. Until you’re famous, you may want to steer clear of unique cover designs and instead go with the feel of your genre.

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Where to start?

The best place to start is on Amazon. Go research books in your genre that are selling and see what the popular cover styles are.

  • What do they have in common?
  • What mood do they convey?
  • Can you clearly discern the genre of the books?
  • What types of fonts are they using?
  • What is the focal point of these designs? (a person, an object, etc.)
  • What is the design layout?
  • What are the color pallets? (notice that no covers will use pure black or pure white)
  • How do the covers make use of light and shadow?
  • What does all of the above tell you about each book?

This might seem like cheating, and no one wants to look like everyone else out there. However, your cover is the first chance you get to sell your book. Your first chance to capture the readers’ attention. If the cover catches their eye and the blurb is good, it’s a sale.

Now get busy!

So, for those just starting out in their publishing careers, go with what’s working for others. Your cover will still maintain its own uniqueness but will be clearly recognizable in its genre.

Make sure your cover has a 1/8-inch bleed.

Don’t buy any images until you are happy with one of your concepts. Just right click on stock photos and save them with the watermark. These will work fine for the concept. Just remember where you found them.

When you’re ready to put together the final designs, purchase your images and fonts. Keep a word file with thumbnails of your images and paste the copyright information below them. You’ll need all that copyright info from your images and fonts to show on the copyright page of your book.

Keep your original images and use copies for designing in case you screw up.

Make sure you save your final design in CYMK so the colors remain true when printed.

CMYK stands for Cyan Magenta Yellow and Black. It is a term most often used in printing as these colors are mixed in the printing process to create the colors of a document. RGB stands for Red, Green, and Blue. Both RGB and CMYK are modes for mixing color in graphic design. As a quick reference, the RGB color model is best for digital work, while CMYK is used for print products.

Good luck and have fun!

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