Thursday, December 8, 2011

Guest Blog: LC Chase and Happy Covers



A Riptide Cover is a Happy Cover by LC Chase

You know how one thing leads to another? That’s how I ended up as Riptide Publishing’s art director. A contest entry led to Rachel, which led to Riptide. I love doing cover design and I love doing cover design for Riptide. Sometimes it is most definitely a challenge, but I love a good challenge. Sometimes it’s frustrating trying to pull out that one little thing I see in my head, but 99% of the time I wake up in the morning with everything clear as a bell. I love when that happens. That’s just part of the creative process, whether it be written word or visual expression. Things have a way of falling into place if you give them the space they need to breathe. I just realized there’s a lot of love in this paragraph. *g*

At Riptide, I do promotional materials, typography on the painted covers, all the book layouts and any associated graphical elements, in addition to cover design. One thing I love about Riptide is their desire to make every cover a great cover. We want happy authors and no cover goes out until each author is happy with their cover. If it takes going back and forth 39 times to get it just right, well, 39 times to get it just right is what we do. And always with a smile. :-)

Here’s a little peek at the process that went into creating a few covers...

A Chip in His Shoulder

The original image with the guy was pretty close to what we wanted for this cover overall, but it needed a touch more menace, and a shiny city above the lower grunge city. I found an image for the sky city that had the right feel/perspective, though it was a daylight shot. I cropped out the buildings and darkened them, then dropped another image behind that had the right feel for the night sky.  

Then the lower city needed work. It had hot spots that needed to be toned down, the gun had sun glare on it, and the atmosphere needed that “dusk shade” to give the sense of dirty air. Then I blended the two cities together. The guy, who I’d cropped out earlier, was then dropped in.

Because we felt the cover image was powerful on its own, we didn’t want the title to compete with it. The sans-serif, modern font with just a touch of drop shadow to give it a little lift was the perfect complement.

L.A. Witt was happy with the final cover, which made me happy.


Master Class

Rachel wanted something a little more elegant for this cover, and I wanted to tie in Nicky’s theatrical background as that’s where he and Devon meet. It took a while to find this particular image, but it immediately spoke to me – this was Nicky. Then we needed to add the BDSM elements without losing the elegance. Getting the rope around Nicky’s ankle took quite a bit of work first finding the right rope, then tweaking the exposure, shadow, angle, etc. Another image was used for the handcuffs, and to maintain the overall theme, I color-corrected them to a rich gold tone.

The font then had to match, but I also wanted an element of strength to it. Once the font was agreed on, I sampled Nicky’s skin color and then applied a few effects. But the cover still wasn’t quite right. The original satin draping on the chair was plain black, so I added a little color on it to complement the overall gold/flesh tones, and that was the final touch.

A happy Rachel made a happy LC.


Divinity

One of the key elements for this cover was the lollipops. Orange lollipops, to be exact, and they were surprisingly difficult to find. After an hour or so surfing through various image banks and not coming up with what I saw in my mind, I went to the grocery store and bought a half dozen from the bulk section. Then I spent a while setting up the shot and mucking around in photoshop until I had what I wanted.

Bryl was very specific with the model for his cover, but the one he’d chosen for example had been on several covers. That’s another thing we do at Riptide, run a check to make sure our cover models aren’t over exposed. The guy we found is relatively fresh, had the “vampire” look, and was attractive. Bryl was also specific about not wanting naked on his cover. So this model fit the bill. I changed his eye color for a little more menace. The office building is where much takes place, but we didn’t want it to be more than subtle background. Then the font with a few effects and orange accents framed the image nicely.

The cover wasn’t finalized until Bryl was happy with it, and when he was, guess what that made me? Yep, happy.   


Sublime

This was the first cover I did for Rachel, pre-Riptide. We first spent a fair bit of time discussing what she envisioned, her characters and the little details. Then I went model shopping, came up with a couple guys she was happy with and went to work. The original image of Nicky was black and white and he had grease streaks across his chest. That was where the most time was spent: I gave him a little sepia tone color, cleaned his chest, gave him red hair, and then after finding the right collar, did several layers and image manipulating to get it around his neck. Then we went through a few fonts and effects until we found just the right one to balance out the overall image.

You guessed it. More happy-happy. :-)


Ha! That's a lot of happy and awesome covers too. Great post. Thanks LC!

As part of the Riptide blog tour, all comments still count as entries for the tour end giveaways so... show LC some love darlins! Ready, set... go!

:D

24 comments:

  1. L C I think your covers are Wonderful I am so envious that u have that skill

    Sarah S

    Sarahs7836(at)gmail(dot)com

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  2. LC I think your covers are wonderful I wish I had that kind of skill I do basic design at work but nothing on this type of scale

    Sarah S

    Sarahs7837(at)gmail(dot)com

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  3. arella3173_lovelessDecember 8, 2011 at 4:05 AM

    It was wonderful to read how you created them all. 
    Simply fantastic. I do a few graphics on my Photoshop (for 'sets' -signatures & avatars on a forum) and even though I add layers to enhance a photo or blend things together or add gradient maps, I don't think I could work the magic you do. Simply amazing. Though If I could, I would most definitely give it a shot. I would love to learn. I mostly use cartoon/anime pictures which I think are pretty easy to work with. I rarely work with "real" pictures, though, I have done a few and they're hard to get it just right with lighting and just overall color and hue levels. Anyways, I think the work you do, or any cover artist does, is amazing. 

    Judi
    arella3173_loveless(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  4. I adore LC's covers! New models and they always show me the story while also looking so very purty ;)

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  5. I really love your covers.  It was really fin to see the process you go through.  :)

    -Sabrina

    sabrinayala at gmail dot com

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  6. Absolutely fascinating post - I loved finding out more about how the covers are made - thank you! :)

    anne
    xxx

    albrooke(at)me(dot)com

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  7. Thank you, Sarah. Keep working at it and you'll get there. :-)

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  8. Thanks, Judi. Photoshop is an awesome tool - so much to work with. Just give yourself the time to sit down and play with it. And play and play and play... I'm still learning and playing too. There's no end to it. ;-)

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  9. I love those covers Bryl's just draws me to it. and the others shown here are brilliant as well.

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  10. Oh, I so want an LC cover...

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  11. As I said yesterday, I LOVE the LA Witt cover!  The futuristic feel and that sexy hunk make me want to squeal.  I look forward to more of your artwork in the future.

    joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

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  12. I really enjoyed this post.  I love to read how the cover artists create the book covers.

    Thanks,
    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

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  13. Fascinating! Covers are so important but I didn't realize just how much work went into them!  Riptide's covers are gorgeous so all the hard work was definitely worth it :-)

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  14. One day, I'm gonna get one of LC's work for my cover. They're super gorgeous. And HOT! 

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  15. Some day you'll do a cover for me... some day...

    And I've got to say I absolutely adore the cover for A Chip in his Shoulder. So sexy.

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  16. Really cool description of the cover process.  Thanks, LC. =)

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  17. Interesting post. Your covers are really good.

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  18. Damn, I need to get a story done for Riptide to see more covers! I'm a sucker for a good covers - and we're so proud and pleased to have you.

    Also, just to note, LC's first great job was the Riptide logo, which we love. 

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  19. I had problem of logging into Amara's Place for the past few weeks. Thank Gxd for the new log in.

    LC Chase, the Riptide covers are really nice and matches with the title and blurb as well. I am really glad the authors are given the opportunity to raise and approve what they want for their covers.

    moniqee
    moniqee@hotmail.com

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  20. Come write for Riptide and you can have one ;D

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  21. I'm a bit behind on responding here (catching up from vacation), but I've gotta say, this was fascinating to me, even after watching you go through the process again and again :D We're so thrilled to be working with you, and it is strange, isn't it, how things happen sometimes? I think we owe Josh Lanyon a cookie :)

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