1:57 PM

Adding Art

I'm the queen of procrastination. When I should be working on a story, something else is always glistening off to the side of my vision, calling to me. Come! Be distracted! Play with something else! This week, it's been making mock covers for some of my stories. At least I can feel a little less guilty because it relates to my writing and should I ever decide to go the self publishing route, I will have an idea of what I want to use as a cover.  The problem with making mock covers is that if I don't have a source photo that I took myself or an image I drew, it's not something I can ever use in publishing unless I get permission from the original artist. I'm not sure how it works if you take a source image and drastically change it through a photo manipulation program. I'll have to do some looking into that.

For example, the mock cover for my soft sci-fi YA novel, I found an image online of a silhouette of a woman riding a horse. Perfect!...Except the "horses" in my story are called double heads because, well, they have two necks and heads, so I did some manipulation and added the second head. I also colored the sand and added the faded cat eye to represent the Felinian characters that live on the planet. Fun to make, but again, not really my "art", therefore I don't think it's Kosher to ever use for anything but fun.

Now the spoof story I'm working on, Tears of a Clown, that cover is actually an image of myself transformed into a clown. Because the photo is my own, I could definitely use it should I ever decided to self publish it. The only problem here? I don't think I look anything like the main character (I look super mean in the photo and far too old to pass for a high school student). Who knows, maybe I can talk one of my friends into posing for an image to get made into a clown for me if the need arises.
I laugh every time I look at it. I look so mean!

I won't bore you guys with everything I've made, but probably my favorite to date is the cover I made for my YA fantasy story: Embers to Ashes: A destined journey (which some of you may be reading along with!). Again I used an image I found online, BUT I like it so much I may ask for permission to use it, or try to draw something similar myself. Since it's an outline and not super detailed, I may be able to make something I like and get out of the whole begging for use of it bit. I do love how it turned out. So cool!

This is about the extent of my artistic talents as far as relating to my writing goes. I wish I was a good enough artist to sketch some of my characters, but they don't end up looking realistic in the least. Do you find it helpful to draw your characters or specific scenes in your stories to help you describe them better? I suppose I use photographs to an extent. Maybe I should start asking my friends to cosplay characters so I can have a photo shoot. What fun that would be!  Also, if there's anyone out there who'd want to take a stab at some fan art, I'd be your new best friend and pimp it all over the internet!

I do wonder though, if the whole e-book and self-publishing thing is putting illustrators out of work. I've downloaded books with very basic covers that were probably made by the authors, and some with no cover image at all! I know my Kindle doesn't show the covers unless I go look at it, but I like getting an idea for the feel of the book by seeing what the cover looks like. I was also concerned that books which actually contain illustrations within the story might not be converted into e-books, for example, Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan and Behemoth. When I first read Leviathan I fell in love with the included illustrations that really helped me see what Westerfeld's creatures and machines looked like. Of course I could have just tried to picture them in my mind, but I love that he included them and I think they really add a lot to the story. I was worried that the e-book version of Behemoth  would leave out the illustrations, so I sent a Tweet to Scott Westerfeld and asked. Much to my surprise, he answered me back to let me know that yes, the e-book versions do still contain illustrations, but obviously the hard cover versions look much better. That made my day! I know you don't find many MG or YA books with illustrations anymore, but I hope people realize that it's still possible to have them, even if you're going to self publish an e-book only.

How does art work into your own writing? Covers? Images? Character sketchs?  I would definitely include music into your art scheme since I know many make up specific playlists to go with the mood of their stories. If you've got some, share your work with us!


Justin Ryan Schwan said...

That's a very interesting perception on artists maybe losing work due to self publishing. I'm not sure it will. Writers who really want the best, even if they self publish, will contract an illustrator, and even though self publishing has boomed in the last several years, it's mostly writers who'd have never gotten into the big presses, and the big presses who routinely use illustrators haven't lost any opportunities to use them. I think, though, that illustrators are losing out on a lot of "potential" business.

Still, a really good read.

MBee said...

I don't know much about art, but I can appreciate it and like to look at it and I know it's not an easy way to make a living, so I hope that the self publishing boom won't drive illustrators to look for work elsewhere. I think one of the issues with people self publishing is that the author may not have the extra income to pay an illustrator. Lucky for me, a very dear friend of mine is a graphic designer and I can probably swap her babysitting hours for her twin toddles in exchange for a cover! :D

Anonymous said...

I really like to draw so when I get writer's block, I get to drawing. Muwhahaha. There's a scene or more portrait that I've been trying to draw for years but I'm catching up to it. :D

MBee said...

You'll have to share when you get it completed! or ya know..draw me a clown chick with a hot biker dude on her arm! ;)

PC Wheeler (cillaclare) said...

If you're interested in making your own covers, you can find royalty free, quality photos for low prices all over the web. Read the fine print before you buy to see what kind of license you'll need to use it on book covers. Also, Deviant Art has a huge collection of free stock photos, but again, you need to read each individual account to see what their rules as far as usage is - but most will give you permission if you ask. Morguefile is another free stock collection worth looking at.

MBee said...

Awesome to know! Thanks for sharing!