Ravven's Glass: Blog
Ravven, Book Cover Art and Galleries
Ravven, Books and Other Writing

Book Cover Art: What Do You Look For?

September 9th, 2016 by

Wow, two posts in a day – that has to be some kind of record.

After making the last post, I walked into town to buy lunch and run errands. The whole way I was thinking about what I did want to see, and want to create, in book covers. You see, I didn’t want it to seem as though I was biting the hand that feeds me as it were. I love these books, both as a genre and as something produced out of love and hard work by a community of amazing people. I’m coming at it from both the viewpoint of a reader/fan and also from the perspective of someone who helps in some small part to get these books out there.

I want to be better. I want new ideas, new styles, the next trend. I want covers that make people get grabby hands when they see them. And yeah, I know that I sound like I’m channelling Michael Wincott in The Crow, but you get the idea. :D

I want you all to be able to look me straight in the eye and say ARE WE HAVING FUN OR WHAT?!?

Ahem…

Anyway, I wanted to ask: What do you want in a cover? What makes great cover art? What catches your eye as a reader, as an author, as a book blogger?

This is my list:

  1. Action poses. I am sick to death of pretty models standing there like that one stick of celery they ate yesterday just isn’t going to hold those cheekbones up anymore. I want models who look muscular enough to kick some ass who are…well, kicking ass. Rather than holding a sword or gun limply (or worse, like they’re going to lick it seductively at any moment), I want to see a dynamic body that practically bursts off the cover. I want intensity, I want life.
  2. Better stock (i.e., non-fashion stock). I want those kickass models in the right clothing, as it is hella difficult to fit the right armor or clothing to an action pose. The deviantART community is a very good example of the stock that I would love to see commercially. You’ll find tons of gorgeous models who have made or had made for them great cosplay outfits, and they’re shot with exactly the right poses. And (cry!!!) I can’t risk using them professionally. But this is what I would like to see.
  3. Diversity. Hey, what can I say…I’m a social justice warrior from way back. (Or perhaps a social justice mage, but I diverge.) Not only do I want to use diverse models, I want to be able to do covers with diverse cultural influences. For instance, I lived in Los Angeles for many years, I was born in Queen of Angels hospital and will always love the city – but in order to properly “feel” like Los Angeles you need the cultural aspects of the Hispanic community alongside the dreams of stardom and the gritty neon griminess of it all. That is real.
  4. New perspectives. Personally, I feel that I’ve done too many images where the model is dominant to the rest of the image. Lots and lots of pretty girls, close up, looking at the camera. I’d like to pull back, I’d like to shake it up a bit. But perhaps I’m in danger of following my own taste when that doesn’t reflect mainstream readers.

So what do you think? What really pulls you in?

Disorder. Chaos. Anarchy. Now that’s fun.

Lists and Terror

September 9th, 2016 by

I’m a great list maker and planner. As you can see from my previous New Years Eve resolutions, however, I’m not always a successful completer of lists. Nevertheless (refusing to learn from past failures) I now have a list of projects that I want to work on as time opens up prior to the end of the year:

1: Art. New Styles. New Skillz.

As a book cover artist I get a bit tired of doing the same type of covers, and I’m sure that readers must get tired of seeing the same types of covers over and over again. This has led to some of the stress over the past year and dissatisfaction with work. I know authors, with everything riding on the success or failure of a new book, want something that they know readers in the past have liked. I know that, and I do understand it…but each time I get a brief for an urban fantasy cover that needs a tough-but-beautiful heroine with great hair wearing leather and jeans, standing in an urban landscape with magic effects on her hands or on her weapon of choice I feel tired. That’s not to say that I don’t love the hell out of that type of book, I really do love me a kickass female hero. And yet…I think we can all do something a bit different.

Part of the problem is stock. Most commercial stock images are outtakes from fashion or advertising shoots, modelling portfolio shots and so on. The models are pretty, but there are a lot of “model-y” poses (as one would expect). Action shots are really, really difficult to find and it’s even more difficult to find ones that haven’t already been used since everyone else is looking for those as well.

Now, lacking the finances to set up a studio again and shoot my own models, I’ve been looking at CGI models for bodies and costume. I’ve used a lot of these in the past, and when paired with a real model’s face and hair it’s difficult to tell that they were digital, especially when overpainted. This is one option for more interesting model shots with more life and action to them. Acquiring the 3D modelling skills needed to create the figures, skin them, and light them properly is a bit more difficult, more of a high learning curve.

So, that’s one thing.

2: Writing = Panic Mode.

For several years now I’ve been trying to clear the spare time to do some writing. The Clockwork Bluebird, my first project, needs re-working with a new ending and I have the sequel partially written. I have other projects (very different ones!) also pulling at me for attention. I am, I GODDAMN AM, going to devote some time to these so that I can get enough momentum going in order to not fall by the wayside in despair after I go back to work after the holidays. I’ll probably never be a great writer, maybe not even a good and professional one…but I think I could not embarrass myself. I want the chance to try, anyway. I want to tell these stories as best as I can.

  1. The Tatterdemalion Dancer. Clockpunk-fantasy sequel, underground carnival which is also a war between the Fae courts. A Goose Girl/Red Shoes mashup. :D
  2. A twisted Alice tale of madness: Suckerpunch meets Alice in Wonderland.
  3. My pooka story.

That shit is hella scary.

3. The Rest.

Other projects include work on the various cosplay outfits that I have littering the front room, which I’ve turned into a workroom. I want to put more time into my photography (and as a side note be able to use more of my own shots rather than having to buy so much stock!).

So…yeah. The list. Lists are terrifying.

 

Postscript: A video which captures The Tatterdemalion Dancer perfectly. <3

LE CIRQUE FEERIQUE Reel from Company XIV on Vimeo.

Legion…Pretty Damn Fine

September 2nd, 2016 by

Well, again it’s been a month since my last post (my bad) but finally I’m starting to see my way clear to the end of the year. Note to self: never, ever, ever take on more work than you can actually handle. Not a good experience either for me or for the people that I work with. That was definitely a life experience. :/

In other news I’ve been bouncing back and forth between work and trying to spend some time playing with friends in Legion, and I have to say that all is forgiven. This was a really well done expansion, and I’m having a lot of fun. The zones are gorgeous, the class halls are helpful without being the overdone timesink that garrisons were. Professions are back (having been basically killed off in the last expac) and have their own quests which you do as you level – wonderful. I do skinning and leatherworking on my hunter, so of course I’m loving the Nesingwary quests which basically amount to “Welcome to this lovely land, and our bountiful animals. Now go forth and kill them all.”

Blizzard has taken a tip from FFXIV in that they have worked instances into the actual storyline for each zone (although not to the extent that FFXIV does). Although I’m almost 108 I’ve only done one, and I have to say that that one was really trash heavy. I notice this specifically because, as a Marksman hunter, my AOE can hit things in the far distance. Other tightly packed group of mobs, animals, even birds and dragons from the sky. In their current state hunters are designed to give tanks and healers a nervous breakdown…and I love it. *evil grin*

Well, back to work. I’ll have to post some screenies later on after I figure out how to keep Bitdefender from preventing Warcraft from saving them. I think it’s something in ransomware protection. Sigh…

Wedding <3

August 8th, 2016 by

The backyard rustic wedding was wonderful! It was actually a handfasting, performed by a pagan but softened to suit a very mixed group of family and friends. Perfectly lovely.

 

Wedding

 

Wedding 13707515_10154770830257289_2839788114743285843_n WeddingWedding Wedding 13939577_1744598362423409_987339615836185240_n

Off Like a Herd of Stressed Turtles

July 24th, 2016 by

…or something like that, anyway. :) Leaving early tomorrow, having accomplished only a small amount of everything that I needed to before I left. I’ve been throwing things into my suitcase without my normal planning, so I will probably end up with fifteen black shirts and no pants or shoes. I just remembered to pack underwear this afternoon. Anything I miss, I guess I can hit Walmart for once I get there.

Don’t have too much fun while I’m gone… :D

Getting Started With FFXIV

July 11th, 2016 by

Recently within the space of a day or so I talked to a very lovely author whom I’d worked with who said that she and her husband were starting FFXIV (unfortunately from the US, boo!) and a good friend also decided to give it another try. And yeah…by another try I mean that he finally gave in to my near-constant badgering just to shut me up. :) I know that a lot of people bought it for the first time when it was on sale during the Steam sale as well, and I thought it might be a good time for a beginner’s guide post.

First of all, excellent choice. I honestly think this is the best MMO out there at this time; it’s certainly the closest game to provide that “old MMO feeling” that many of us are so nostalgic for. You know, that golden time (probably during Vanilla WoW or EQ2) when you first really got into MMOs, when you lived and breathed them and it was glorious. The community is awesome, for the most part, and players are helpful. Instances are the best I’ve ever seen in terms of mechanics, story, and sheer gorgeousness.

Starting Out

This is how I start characters. I’ve rerolled a million times, and also started quite a few on my home server before Heavensward was released and Squenix made it very, very clear that they wanted you to do everything on one character rather than having alts by gating the new content to completion of the storyline.

I like running around and getting all of the initial city quests done first. You’ll get xp, a bit of cash, all of the aetherytes unlocked, and so on before you start running out to do quests. SE likes you to do a lot of running around, oh my yes…get used to it. If you pass an aetheryte and it’s not sparkling, click on it to unlock it. You can choose a number of favoured destinations (which will be cheaper to travel to) and one free one. Set your free one for your home city, and the two favoured ones for the other two cities. Then you can move your return point to a quest hub as needed.

Put things like autorun, your armoury chest, the hunting log, and the emote button on your bars. Lots of quests require emotes, so it’s easier. Rearrange your UI as the default setup sucks.

Kill things in groups if possible, do every fate you stumble across, and do your hunting log as you go. Hunting log gives great xp, as do fates.

That’s it, basically…just enjoy, it’s a lovely world. Don’t skip the storylines or cutscenes, as there are stories here to make you giggle and also break your heart and make you cry. The first time you run a dungeon just tell everyone that you’re new and won’t be skipping the cutscenes – they’ll deal with it. :)

FFXIV Dorks

Beginners Guides

Fate Locations

Hunting Log Locations

Progression and Level Locked Content

Subscribe to RSS Feed   Subscribe to our RSS Feed