Monday, March 5, 2012

Storm Dancer by Rayne Hall

What's the genre? What is it you like or don't like about this cover? Does it make you want to know more about the book? Does it make you want to BUY the book? Discuss.


  1. I'm getting an adventure feel from this. Not sure if this would be a fantasy or a historical since the design doesn't specifically show any fantastical elements.

    I like this cover because I'm quite drawn to the strong reds and earthy tones. I'd definitely look at a sample of this one before deciding if I want to actually buy it.

  2. Hi, I wonder if someone would be willing to address two specific questions about this cover.

    1. How old would you say this character is? I think he may look a tad young for what he's meant to be. But then, I'm at the age where many men look at tad young. ;-)

    2. (For those of you who understand graphic design matters) Would you recommend a dropshadow for the title and/or the byline? If yes, what colour?


  3. The cover artwork gives me a Arabian Nights action/fantasy feel.

    I do think that at character does look a tad young, this may or may not be a problem, depends on the book.

    The text work needs work. Being plain white does not help and it needs something to help it pop. With the text on top of such a dark area of the artwork just a drop shadow will get lost.

    Robin is the real font expert on the site and I look forward to seeing what she says, but personally I would suggest using a texture making the letters look more like stone and use a bevel and emboss to give it a 3d look. That would really make the text pop and fit the mood of the book.

  4. @Rayne I'm getting older too (I was absurdly flattered when someone refused to believe I was over 40 today!)

    To me, he looks early 20s. I think his face doesn't really look "lived in" if you know what I mean. Though there's a suggestion of beard shadow, he does not look young.

    In fact if I have to nit pick him, he's just so.... smooth. Kind of plastic. This looks like 100% computer generated artwork. I hesitate to say it, I don't want to sound flip but to me he looks kind of like an arabic Ken doll. Something about his deltoid also looks a little odd. I'm not a big fan of the yellow glow around his head/turban.

    On the typefaces (thank you Eric!) I really like the title typeface. I wouldn't bevel/emboss it just because that's sort of out of style right now. Maybe a very subtle gradient and a drop shadow; I think you'd be surprised at how much a drop shadow can help a title pop even on a dark background.

    But Rayne, what happened to your author byline typeface? Is that, lord forfend, Arial? somehow it's just jarringly plain and modern compared to the fantasy/historical look of the rest of the cover. I'd recommend a serif or a hybrid; I'm not always an Optima fan but it might work nicely here.

    I love the color scheme and his direct look.

  5. Sigh... correction to the above. The sentence at the end of the second para should be "Though there is a suggestion of beard shadow, he looks young."

  6. Thanks, Robin.

    Actually, I guessed what you meant in that sentence. :-)

    The byline font is Liberation Sans. I've used it because that's the byline font for most of my other covers. I can try a serif font to see what it looks like. I'll give Optima a try, thanks.

    What do you think of the font colour? The artist had originally used bright white. I changed it to a creamy white. Does this work, or would you change it? What colour would you suggest for the drop shadow? A near-black brown, perhaps?

    I'm glad you like the title font. I like it, too. It's a free-for-commercial-use font called Cheboygan, and I'm glad I found it. I'd experimented with many other fonts, trying to get a slightly Middle Eastern feel without going over the top.

    I agree with you that the hero doesn't look "lived in". He's too pristine. He's meant to be a 27-year old warrior after a decade of service in a Bronze Age Middle Eastern army, and prehistoric desert warfare wouldn't leave him looking quite so pristine.

    On the other hand, I've received a lot of fan mail about this cover (mostly from women raving about how hot the guy is, especially his eyes), so I don't want to change him too much. Do you have any suggestions how to make him just a tiny bit older, and just a tiny bit more lived-in? An art student of my acquaintance is ready to try some subtle retouching.

    1. I've just had a look at some Optima variants, and agree it could work. Worth trying, anyway.

  7. I would try the title as is, with a deep brown, subtle drop shadow. However, I might experiment with some vertical stretching.

    As for him, I'm not sure adding wrinkles would help. His deltoid needs fixing, that's making me crazy. But maybe he and his background might benefit from a bit of a subtle grunge effect, leaving his sword and his eyes clear of the grunge?

  8. I'm using GIMP which is notoriously limited for manipulating fonts (compared with Photoshop). Vertical stretching isn't possible (at least not in an easy 'click vertical stretch' kind of way). A dropshadow is doable, though.

    The subtle grunge effect you mention, can you explain? Is this a specific function? If yes, do you happen to know if it's available in GIMP? (GIMP is, well, deserving of a prize for user-unfriendliness, but it's free, and I put up with a lot for that.) If it's Photoshop-specific, maybe the art student has Photoshop and can try it.

    What exactly is wrong with his deltoid?

  9. I am not at all familiar with GIMP I'm afraid, I'm a photoshop gal. "Grunge" is a non-specific term for adding distressed/eroded texture to a picture. If you do a search for "grunge brushes" and Grunge textures" you can find a bunch of them. But I would have no idea how to get them to work in GIMP I'm afraid.

    That big crease in his deltoid is just not correct anatomy. There isn't a marked crease there, instead, on the inside of the arm there is a bit of a hollow where the deltoid ties in. You should look at some anatomical drawings, that will help.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Ah, thanks. I can't paint, and my image editing skills are at basic level, so changing his arm is beyond me. Will it help a bit if I dodge and smudge the crease to make it less pronounced?

  13. I think so, yes. :) I know it's a little thing but for some odd reason it's bugging the crap out of me. Of course you could just say "that woman is weird, I'm ignoring her!" and leave it as is.

  14. I value your opinion greatly.
    Besides, if it bugs you, it'll probably bug other folks, too.
    And worse: now you've pointed it out, it won't cease bugging me. :-D
    Of course, this doesn't mean you're not weird. ;-)

  15. Um. Thanks. I think. Or not.