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HotN cover: part two…

Harmonies is all about Stephen slowly being sucked into NSpace, both mentally and physically, with Wesley as his rather reluctant savior, so I thought a symbolic black hole would be appropriate.Β  I started with the same computer/space background as the other two, but added some “warping” effects with the good old warp brush in PSP. This and its companion the warp mesh is my new best computer friend. You can just nudge pieces around in a given direction, or you can grab a section of the image and “twirl” it around a central point. It makes it easy to turn something static into something in motion. That’s what I did to the background, especially in the middle, where I wanted to create a pseudo “black hole” behind the boys’ image.

Turns out you don’t see much of it, but I know it’s there. (slideshow:)Β  It also lends a certain geometric unity to the covers: arc and triangle of the first book (the planet and ties), and rectangles of the second (the band across the cover) and the circle in this one.

Anyway…another slideshow for you:

All images are copyright Β© 2009 Jane S. Fancher. Thank you for respecting that copyright.

Don’t know why these images are fuzzy. I must have reduced this batch down more than the others. Sorry. Too much work to redo right now. Phooey.


What do you think? Small, medium or large? Hmmm…do I need a polling widget? Sorry about the watermark, but I’ve gotta get serious about protecting my rights. Also, the “small” one is pre-more-hair and altered halo. It would be like the others.

Hmmm…I just realized, somewhere in here, Stevie got really pouty-mouthed. Must have flicked a visibility toggle somewhere. Note to self: FIX THE BOY’S FACE!

Ja ne!

Ja ne!

26 comments to HotN cover: part two…

  • OrionSlaveGirl

    I vote: medium

    • Jane

      Always the diplomat. Actually, that was my preference at first as well. Now…the more I look at them…I dunno. I like them all for different reasons. Hence, my solicitation of comments.

  • kokipy

    I vote large. I like big images. although of course OSG is always right….

  • kokipy

    I looked again at all three. I still like large. Small is too small. Medium is okay, but I love the way the image bleeds off the page with large. I like the way the Wesser’s head interferes with the title and how Stephen’s legs are not all captured. Love it big.

    • Jane

      I totally agree. Those are the points I like most as well. Skitterling nails what bothers me most! Although, if I go that large, I can move the helmet because it’ll be easier to see what it is….

      Going to play with the layers…..

  • skitterling

    I really like the large except that the helmet is not so recognizable as in the medium. I’m very fond of the helmet although I know it’s not important.

    SAVE THE HELMET! :biggrin:

    • Jane

      πŸ˜† :sideways: :biggrin: :w00t: I’m dying here. I had the exact same reaction!!!! And I’m not sure how to do it. I’ll work on the problem. The helmet is a separate layer, so I might be able to. I like it because it’s that touch of the real world that is such an important part of what Wesley gives to Stephen…ultimately, at any rate. So, yeah, I’d like to preserve it.

      Plus, he curses at it a lot in the book. πŸ˜† πŸ˜† πŸ˜†

  • kokipy

    There’s plenty of room in the mid=upper=right part if you can really move it. I lihe the helmet too but not at the expense of the two of them.
    Also, re the pout – isn’t that kind of what people do when they are deep under? not sure you need to fix it necessarily…

    PS: OSG knows she is always right – and that I think so – so no problem admitting it here among our closest associates !

  • aelith

    Jane, how does the boy’s size relate to the other two covers? Do the figures stay the same size or progress larger.

    I agree that the pinwheels get lost under what you call the black hole which in the end I am reading as a bubble.

    Otherwise I vote with OSG. :biggrin:

    • Jane


      I’m pretty sure I’ve got the helmet problem solved, now I gotta go work on the “bubble”….

    • Jane

      Oops! Only answered half. Relative size…It’s a slightly different kind of cover. The first was very stylistic, with a medium-sized figure, the second has the very geometric katchina, with a pretty small Nayati taking aim. This is the first to really show the boys. The whole series is very character driven, but the first is the setup of the whole space vs planet political struggle, at which core lies our young hero, being torn between the two worlds, the second focuses in on the direct struggle between HuteNamid and the Alliance, and human fallout is the center of Harmonies.

      That’s my thinking behind the covers anyway.

  • AbigailM

    In general, I LOVE it. Hadn’t noticed a problem with the helmet, but, true, if you haven’t been told it’s a helmet, it does lose its identity when it gets shoved halfway off the page.

    But the hard-edged “black hole” is a real distraction to me. In the slideshow I see the graduated blackness at the center of it, but that gets hidden under the GLGs, and the magenta bubble just doesn’t say “black hole” to me.

    Size — I tend to think the large one. I too like the overlap with the Wesser’s head and the title.

  • katoji

    For your B&W version–do you have a global adjustment like a levels or a curves? This is a handy way to control the tonal range and give the piece more contrast by shifting dark greys to black–light greys to white. Easy to use.

    Per the helmet: I think its simply the visor reflection that makes it a touch confusing to read. Just tone the yellow value down a little so that it doesn’t pop so much. You might consider a similar thing on the helmet as a whole, just to help the readability–take the over all reflectivity of the patterning in helmet down except in the highlights.


    • Jane

      Good point. I’ll take a look at it. It’s, frankly, the one “messed with” photographic bit in this piece (other than the background) Making it blend with the other elements has been interesting. There’s actually way too much variation of texture in this one because of the central figures’ origin as a painting, but I decided to just let it ride. I like the contrast between the two boys and it all disappears when it’s shrunk down anyway. What it’ll look like printed is another story! πŸ˜€

      Re curves: thanks. I use curves all the time now…fell in love with it when I was working with David (CJ’s brother) down in Dallas this spring. I could do something like that, but I’d like the file to simply contain the cover as “painted.” that way, no matter what the reader is, it’ll “show” well.

  • Bri

    Add me to the “large” vote. I like the overlap of the elements–the figures over the title box, the feet extending past the edge of the cover, etc. It’s more dynamic than the neater, everything-in-its-place smaller one. And the middle one is sort of compromise weak–it’s undecided.

    I also perceive this version as being more character-centric, something I value in the book, and like to see reflected in the cover.

    I have one more comment. Your “black hole” isn’t very–black. It’s more a magenta bubble. I’d suggest you try a couple of modifications. First, try shifting the balance of the gradient to increase the percentage of the center of the circle that’s actually black. And introduce some subtle color variation so you can use your twirlygig tool to put a spin in your black hole–everyone knows that’s what black holes “look” like LOL! It may be too busy, but you might try it to see if it makes viewers immediately think “black hole” instead of “fairy bubble” ;^)

    • Jane

      Thanks, Sis.

      At this point, large is in the lead. Poor small…nobody wants him. Ah, well, makes my job easier. (Throws that one into the recycler)

      I totally agree about the character-orientation of the books and the covers. All the new versions will have character covers, but I really needed to get back into “drawing” a bit before tackling that. I’m having pretty decent luck with the Ring books, so hopefully all the NW books will have hunky guys on them, tho I should probably let Anevai or Cantrell sneak in…

      Nawwww….I’ll give them some interior illos.

      A small CYA moment here…I actually meant to try the shift on the gradient when the larger images so totally obscured it, but frankly…um…forgot. :whistle: I’d moved on to the ROL cover. I also thought I’d try just swirling the stars. Anything more color-wise would seriously fight with the boys, I fear, tho I might try one of the funkier gradients, just to see.

  • AbigailM

    To me, it would perhaps say black hole if:

    the circuit background is not made multiply swirled, but just one big one in the center

    then the gradation is superposed on that swirl, so that a transparent-at-the-edge to opaque-black-at-the-center mask goes over the big swirl, as if the circuits are swirling down the drain to the dark

    then the guys go over that. Off-center enough that they don’t obscure the center

    That’s my two-cent’s worth, I guess.

    • Jane

      Have I mentioned how much I appreciate everyone’s input? It’s really helpful. I’m working my tail off just trying to figure out how to draw again and REALLY manipulate these programs, rather than just mess around with them, and sometimes, I just get too focused on certain details.

      I like this notion, too. I’ll see if I can find the original, completely unswirled version in one of my saves.

      Back to the Wacom Board!

      • AbigailM

        Definitely goes both ways. I mean, if I show somebody a book on my e-book reader, and point to a detail of the cover, and say, “That was partly my suggestion” — well, how cool is that!?

        You know, I don’t believe I have ever read Harmonies. I know I have had and read Groundties and Uplink, but Harmonies isn’t ringing any bells for me. Hooray! Another new (sort of) book to read, Real Soon Now!

        • Jane

          Not only that, but two different versions! :happy:

          I think I’ve got a cool solution to the “bubble” problem. Sort of a combo of everything suggested plus yet another nifty filter. But it doesn’t go well with the ghost-titles, so I’ve gotta figure somethign a little different. Hopefully late tonight.

  • I vote for the small one, you can clearly see what everything is. I really like what you’ve done Jane!

    Any of the 3 will be great! Thanks for sharing these!

  • Jane

    Yay! The little guys get a vote. (Snoopy dance!)

    You’re very welcome.

  • emilyrln

    Hmmm…. I’d vote for medium or large, not small. Also, I like the softer glow on the med/lg images better than the harsher purple glow on the small one… Where did all the lovely circuitry go? It’s almost invisible in the final cover! Maybe try a light overlay/screen/multiply layer above the one with the stars and purple-bubble/black-hole to make it pop out a bit more? Text-wise, I’d go with a light color drawn from the cover and no glow, as it tries to compete with your gorgeous artÒ€”simplify, let the text speak for itself, leave the glowing to the boys! πŸ˜› Just a thought πŸ™‚ Very pretty covers!

    • Jane

      Good points. I think I’ve found a solution, tho the circuitry is getting pretty darned warped. But I did indeed ditch the ghost letters. (Sigh…they were so kewl.)

      I haven’t done anything yet with the “multiply.” That’s next, I guess, on my things to experiment with. Thanks!

  • OrionSlaveGirl

    Kokipy says: “although of course OSG is always right”

    Yes! Proof people can be bribed! πŸ˜†

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