• Stock Photos

    Kickass Older Assassin Stock

    Book Cover Stock

    New book cover stock is in the process of being uploaded and approved, multiple images of a badass, mature woman assassin. I fully admit that I create a lot of stock just because I really want to read the book that this character may feature in. We don’t get enough books with badass older women…I don’t know about anyone else, but I certainly don’t identify with cookie-baking grannies just because I’m getting older. :)

  • book cover art,  Stock Photos

    Freebie Friday…the First :D

    This is the first in a series of non-regular (i.e., occasional and random) freebie offerings. Download it for book cover stock or artwork, personal or commercial use is okay, but just don’t resell it as your own stock. Play nice. :) Change the hair, add a new face, change anything that you need – the stock that I create is meant for book cover artists who need more action-y poses, or new clothing options. Have fun!


    Click to download


  • Personal

    January Blues

    As you’ve probably guessed, I’ve been lax in keeping up with the book design series that I’d planned, but we will get there in the end! 

    January has been:

    • Cold
    • Grey
    • Full of TOO MUCH WORK that I put off over the holidays
    • Depressed. I mean the month itself is probably just peachy, but I seemed to sink into the grey days. I’m working on that.
    • Full of the threat of dreaded self-employment tax looming over me. Agggghhhhh! It burnssss ussss!

    I haven’t been playing much, aside from levelling another new alt in FFXIV which is one of the ways that I cope with stress. We were playing Warcraft again in anticipation of having new races to play with, but the grind involved in unlocking them finally wore me down. I guess I don’t want to play a Nightborne that much (plus I frigging hate Suramar with the fury of a thousand suns). 

    I’m still looking forward to playing Fallout 4 VR, but we held off on purchasing it until some of the launch issues were worked out. Also I am trying to convince the husband to move all of the VR stuff to the livingroom so we can both play, rather than in his tiny computer room. *hard Paddington stare*

    That’s all. I hate January and February with a passion. They’re the grey months, the cold and mean months when it seems as though the summer will never return.

  • Clockwork Courts

    The Clockwork Courts: Steampunk Tales

    The Clockwork Bluebird

    Maia and her brother Tyler find themselves in the midst of a war between the Faerie Courts on Christmas Eve. Accompanied by a talking dog, a clockwork kitchen servant and Fox the stable boy, they embark on a quest to save their lost parents and find the Bluebird.

    The palace of Night and the Land of the Dead. Skyships. The Goblin Market. A black wolf and the Huntsman who pursues him. A gang of clockwork-enhanced children living in the lost Underground tunnels under the city.

    This is The Children’s Bluebird as you’ve never imagined it.

    Buy now on: Amazon US – Amazon UK


    Coming Soon:


  • Uncategorized

    4. Choosing Stock

    For this section we’re going to look at stock. If you haven’t done this before, it seems exciting at first but rapidly turns into a soul-destroying experience. :) So many white toothpaste smiles, so many fashion and advertising shots that are unsuitable for a book cover. Very little in the way of action shots or proper costuming unless you go with a more expensive genre-specific stock site. 

    How much of your cover do you need to purchase stock for? “All of it” is the simplest and most accurate answer. I know that seems expensive but it is nothing in comparison with the risks of using unlicensed images. There are, however, a few things that you can do to bring the cost down.

    1. Watch for sales. I normally use Depositphotos, as they run yearly specials where you can buy large amounts of stock for very little. I’ll usually buy two or three of these packages of 100 images at a time which brings my stock cost down to under £1 or so per image. I’ve learned from past experiences to try as much as possible to keep stock purchases to a single site so that you don’t have wasted blocks of credits on a lot of sites just sitting there. 
    2. Start a library of images that you can reuse bits of for composited images. I have a library of commercial stock images and my own photography that I can use for skies, birds, ground cover, the perfect braided hair or loose curls that can be applied to other models. 
    3. Fonts need to be purchased as well. I try to use fonts which are licensed free for commercial use (I’ll donate to them as well as a thank you for that), reasonably priced fonts from small designers, and a smaller set of expensive commercial fonts, mostly from places like Letterhead Fonts. These I’ll usually wait to purchase until they run a sale.
    4. Take your own images. Modern smartphones usually have a camera that is good enough for taking supplementary images: be aware of great sunsets, interesting woodland paths, clumps of wildflowers in the sun, stone walls, etc., that you can photograph. This won’t be adequate for model shots, but will be fine for background images. Photograph things around the house as well: old books, keys, feathers, etc. All of this is usable and will cut your stock costs down.

    So, stock images. Aside from having the right look, age, colouring, etc., I also look for good lighting. For the purposes of this tutorial we’ll be adding a head to a different body, as you need to do that all the time on covers. Below is an example of how the lighting can make your job easier, or much more difficult.

    The first image is nicely lit with a good balance of shadow and light. The middle one is washed out, with flecks of light that would need to be painted out, and the third is lit much too harshly with dark shadow on the face (this is the one that I grab locks of hair from, though!).

    When you’re matching a head with a body the lighting will have to be relatively the same, with the main light source on the same side and in roughly the same range of tones (or be fixable to be in the same range of tones, more on that later). Look for a good expression on the face, with some life to it (as though the model was actually thinking something). Again, the first image is a good example of that.

    These are the images that I’m going to be using later on as my base stock:

    The body is an image that I’ve created in a 3D program and the head is a stock image that I’ve been dying to use as I love her expression, but unfortunately she doesn’t have many other images available which makes her a bad choice for anything that might turn into a series. We’ll be doing a (hopefully!) badass urban fantasy cover.

    In the next installment we’ll start putting this together…finally. I know, right? 

  • book cover art

    3. Making a Template

    Quick post today because I haven’t been able to work on this as much as I had planned!

    Today’s topic: making a starting template. Specifically, this will be an ebook template and I will show you later on how I turn those into POD (print on demand) templates. I know that some people work on a wraparound template which is designed to wrap around the front, spine and back of the book. It does make it easier to visualise the entirety of the book, but I find that it throws my visual sense of balance off.

    At this point I’ll have to make a disclaimer that will cover the entirety, every word and thought, of this series: this is how I work. I am self-taught, and although there are a universe of tools and hotkeys and proper ways of doing things, this is how I work in Photoshop. Tricks, old dogs, and all that mean that I’m not going to change at this point so just use this as a starting point to develop your own workflow – your method may be better!

    Anyhow, I start with a basic .psd template that I use as a starting point for all the covers that I do. The image below will show you where these options can be found. Open Photoshop CC, and:

    1. Create a new file that is 6×9″ and 300 dpi. With the Paint Bucket tool, fill the Background layer with a colour that will complement your intended cover.
    2. Either use View>New Guide (twice) to add two vertical guidelines, or
    3. Using the Move tool, drag them out from the left-hand side of your image. Either way works.
    4. Using the ruler at the top, set these lines at an equal distance from the sides. 200 pixels, 300px, whatever. This gives you a visual guide to help you centre things such as your author name.
    5. On separate layers, use the Text tool to add your name, the book title, and the series name if that applies. We’ll make these pretty later on, at the moment they’re just a placeholder.
    6. While holding down the Control key, click on each of your text layers in the Layers menu on the right hand side of your workspace to highlight them at the same time. Once selected, use the symbol marked #6 on the image below to open the context menu and choose New Group from Layers. Name that group “Text.”
    7. Save this document. This forms the basis of your cover, so name accordingly: title_book1.psd or whatever.

    That’s it. :) Now you have a blank canvas of the correct large trade paperback size* and your text layers in a convenient group so you can turn them off and on as needed. You’ll be doing a lot of that, which is why we’ve grouped them.

    *If you know in advance that your book will be printed at 5.25×8.25, you can go ahead and make your template in those dimensions. For me it makes a lot more sense to work at maximum size so I can resize it as needed later on.

    Know Your Competition: Research

    Choosing Stock

  • MMOs

    Ascent: Infinite Realm

    Oooh, this looks interesting: a steampunk/fantasy setting, absolutely gorgeous ships and vehicles, and…well, typical combat from the video. It will probably come with all the baggage that the typical Asian MMO comes with in terms of open-world PvP, cash shop naughtiness and so on, but how pretty!

    Kakao (publisher of Black Desert) will be publishing the game in the West, and I’ve always liked Black Desert. Great game with a minimum of cash shop shenanigans. The developer is evidently Bluehole, which I know of only from Tera. In all fairness, even though I disliked the little-girl white-panty characters enough to refuse to play it, Tera was supposed to be a decent game.

    So fingers crossed and waiting with manageable excitement. :)