After publishing our first novel a little over a week ago, we thought you might enjoy seeing the cover art concepts for Fog Over Mandaree.
Also: one of us may have accidentally unveiled a squirrelish surprise.
Also #2: Euleycat decides to weigh in on the cover art discussion. Apparently we were taking too long with this episode, and he was overdue for cuddles.
Transcript for FraeLea Conversations #5 – Cover Art for Our First Novel
Frank: Hello, and welcome to this episode of FraeLea Conversations. As promised on the last one, we are talking this week, about our book cover for Fog Over Mandaree. We’re going to go over the design process a little bit. Show you some of the iterations you didn’t get to see before. And, how we arrived at the final design. We’ll be showing you the versions, too, as we’re looking on our little tablet.
So, the first one, our artist, Benjamin Roque, he came up with this concept. And we had given him a description and we described the Gurgurran. Which is the monster that appears in the book. No big spoiler there, I think.
RaeLea: Not by now, anyway.
F: Hopefully, you’ve read it, if not, we’re not going to give any spoilers beyond that, but it’s called a Gurgurran, anyway and no, we’re not going to give any spoilers. And, so this first version, we had fog, is obviously a big component. We had the rig, that could provide some various photos that he could use for illustration. And, then kind of a description of Nick and Katrina, the two main characters of the story. And, so, he penciled this out. He had the fog, it was a little too green on this first version.
R: Both of our immediate response was whether it was too green. Too marshy of a fog.
F: Yeah, it looked like swamp fog.
R: Right, right.
F: Instead of winter fog, which is what it should have been.
R: But, I think both of our response when we saw the Gurgurran was wow.
F: Yeah, he has done a great job with that.
R: Definitely. The most unique one of them all, too.
F: We gave good description, I think, of how we wanted it. The head was a little bit off, as you’ll see in the next versions, but he gave a good starting point, anyway. The Gurgurran, in particular, has got really small eyes. He’s supposed to look like something that’s just tough. And, just a rough, mountain type creature. And, so, that was the first version we had. You could see the pencil outline of Nick and Katrina that he had on there. And gave him some feedback on that one, which the next version he started implementing. We wanted them to be running away from the monster, but we still wanted to see their faces. And to show them kind of looking back at it. He also, on this version, made it more winter scape.
R: Right, he cleaned up the green.
F: Yeah, that kind of the colors, that slate gray.
F: It’s still a little too bright here, but it fit kind of a winter fog type a little better. One thing I didn’t like about this one was the snow that he had on over the monster. It looked a little too fake, I guess. But, that’s fine, it was something that he was going to take care of on the next version. Which, the next version we had still had.
R: And that one had kind of a great story where he had opened up this version and he gasped.
F: He, as in me.
R: Frank, yes.
F: So, Ben had emailed us this version of it and we obviously wanted more detail on the human faces and this was the first variant of that that he painted. And, it’s digital painting, but it is actual painting. You’re actually painting these. This is not stock photography or anything like that. So, it’s all the more impressive that it looks so realistic. Even zooming in on it, it’s still, you know you can see the texture of it. And, one of the things that we were really trying to impress upon Ben was that we were going to be using this for marketing collateral. So, the bookmarks which we showed you in last week’s episode, but also the posters that we’re planning on making. And, eventually, print covers for a paperback. We’ve had a lot of folks ask about paperback and we are planning to eventually, but not yet.
R: So, we knew that there had to be excellent quality, especially with our protagonists, Nick and Katrina. And, their faces are just gorgeous.
F: Yep. So, when you look at that, you can actually see their expressions a little bit. With that, we wanted Katrina to have a little bit more fear in her eyes, a little bit more expression there. And, Nick had to have a scar. He has a scar in the book and that was something distinct about him that comes up in future books. So, we wanted to make sure that it was present. On the next one, he actually did add that and this is pretty darn close to the final version ended up being. He really nailed it on this. And, I think that there were only a couple lighting changes and positioning, we changed the positioning a little bit. The beauty of doing digital painting is that you can actually move elements around a little bit, more easily that obviously traditional painting. You are obviously kind of stuck with where things are at, so that’s kind of a beauty there. And, that’s basically what the final version was. He had changed the head of the Gurgurran, a little bit, too. The shape was a little bit. It was supposed to kind of have an anvil shaped head and that has significance, which won’t show up for several books. But, there is a reason for the shape of his head. So, the final version here, with the text and our author logo. I think it ended up turning out pretty decently. We’re very happy with it.
F: Some good feedback.
R: Should we tell them about the little bonus?
F: Now that she said that, I, well, okay. I wasn’t planning to, but…I was planning on waiting until we have the series out and then we were going to have a kind of a “Where’s Waldo” clue hunt on our covers. But, now that somebody spilled the beans here. And, I don’t want to rerecord all this.
R: Oh, no!
F: That’s alright. But, in every one of our covers, we have a squirrel. Somewhere. We won’t tell you where, but there is a squirrel on every one of our covers. And this is only the first cover. The second one is being designed by Ben right now. But, there is a squirrel on it and you know, maybe we’ll do a contest on it someday. Now that the squirrel’s out of the bag. We probably won’t do that. Thanks for ruining Christmas. But, there is squirrels…are significant to us. We’re kind of a couple of squirrels anyway ourselves. So, we’re including that element in every one of our books.
R: I think it’s charming.
F: So, anyway. If you look closely enough, you may find it. It’s very subtle on this first one. A little less subtle on the next one. But, it’s in every one of our covers. And, just in time, speaking of squirrels, we’ve got our Euler. He has to make his cameo, here so, thanks for joining in here. We almost made an entire episode without a cat making an appearance. We’re professionals here.
R: We do professional.
F: We obviously, yeah, we’re pretty good. We know what we’re doing here. He probably wants to play his games on the tablet now. We’ll probably have to relinquish that. But, that will probably be enough for this episode. We’re going to be pinned down here.
R: Thanks for joining us.
F: I’ll see you, probably in a week, when he actually lets me up. We’ve got a twenty-pound cat here, holding me down.
R: So, again, visit us on FRhurt.com
F: And, we’ll see you next time.