Last time I told you about my decision to go with PhatPuppy for the artwork for my new cover. Since I was unable to find a photo on their site that would work for me and that was available for purchase, I discussed the matter with Claudia.
Claudia informed me, they could create a cover just for me. I could have input into the model used, her clothing and facial expression, the background, and so forth. I was more than a little nervous to proceed on this basis—and for more than one reason. First, as you can imagine, the price is a bit higher than to just choose a downloaded photo from an online site. Second, what if after all the time and expense I didn’t like the result? Well, I need not have worried. With Claudia and her cohort, Catie, I was in good hands—in very, very good hands indeed.
At this juncture, let me say that I first contacted Claudia in February 2014 for some general information. When I finally decided that I might well go with PhatPuppy, I contacted her again in early April. On April 11, I asked what her timing would be, as I thought I was ready to get started and was anxious to wrap up my project. We exchanged a number of emails that day and spoke on the phone, discussing such matters as, if I had her do a model shoot for me, would there be a variety of pictures from which I could choose? What if I just didn’t find a photo that spoke to me when it is all said and done? And so forth.
I decided I would go for it.
Catie contacted me minutes later to start working with me to organize the proposed poses, wardrobe and casting. I filled her in on the general aspects of my story and pointed out other PhatPuppy work I liked (at www.PhatPuppyArt.com), along with reasons for why each of those works would not work for me. In this way, we narrowed down the ideas for moving forward. Best of all, I showed Catie some PhatPuppy pictures with a model that I thought would have the right “look” for me. Based on the description of my character that I had given to Catie, she had independently determined that the model I pointed out to her, Mybelin, would be just right for me.
Fortunately, Mybelin was able and willing—and excited—to do the cover. We set the stage. Then I added another little issue—I wanted to use the dagger that I had purchased and used on the cover of my original book. I liked the Celtic “feel” to it. Could we work that in? “Yes,” Catie assured me, that should be possible. They would take their photos of Mybelin with another blade, then put mine in the final product. So, I sent to her, a picture of my dagger.
Next we had to decide on wardrobe. Here is where things got a little sticky. It seems that one of the PhatPuppy photographers does a lot of character covers with elaborate settings and costuming, but Claudia and Catie did not have an exhaustive inventory of costuming with which to work. So, we put our heads together and came up with some ideas. They wanted to know the most important features for me. I told them: a rustic feel, a cape, and a blade.
Not having seen what Catie and Mybelin came up with, I can tell you that I was a bit nervous about what the results would be. The photo shoot was scheduled for two days from the day we started discussing poses and all. It was on the afternoon of April 16. I sat in my office that afternoon trying to work—but my mind was elsewhere.
(Here is a “behind the scenes” shot from that photoshoot:)
I need not have worried. As I said, I was in very good hands indeed.
Late on the night of April 16, Catie downloaded the photos to DropBox for my review.
I was afraid to open them. Remember that when you do a shoot like this, what you will get in the end is a “raw” photo. The shoot is only the beginning. The background, coloring and so forth are the next stage.
I opened the photos. My first thought was about the sleeves of the tunic Mybelin wore. I was a bit concerned. I didn’t want any fluff. But then, I started to warm up to them. I could see how it they would work in the final product. I pondered through the photos. No. 1: beautiful, but a bit too soft. No. 2: possible, but not quite right. No. 3: lovely! I might very well have gone with this one. No. 4: no. No. 5: not enough action. No. 6: it could prove too hard to replace the blade with my own since it was over Mybelin’s face. No. 7: I could see what they were trying to do as the shot was taken per one of my proposals, but in the end, it just didn’t work for me. No. 8: it could work. No. 9: possible, but there were other better shots. No. 10: that’s it! It had the right movement, action and facial expression and the dagger could be replaced easily.
I informed PhatPuppy. I wanted shot No.10.
We started discussing different “scenes” and color changes I thought would work. Claudia wanted to know how I wanted the final cover to look and “feel.” I sent her a number of proposed “backgrounds” from www.DepositPhotos.com (per her request), noting things I liked or didn’t like about each and suggesting further “scenes” we might create. Claudia asked me to identify my two or three most important concerns. I did so.
At 2:00 a.m. (yes, A.M.!) on April 19, Claudia sent to me the first mock-up. You might be interested to learn that from that moment, I “loved” the sleeves that I had at first questioned!
From there we discussed coloring and other issues. Claudia added more “glint” to the dagger, and so forth. By April 20th, she had wrapped up her work.
On the 21st, I sent Catie information on a font I thought I would like: Fairydust. She agreed it would look great. We worked out the kinks and had the e-copy cover done by April 25. (Did I mention that PhatPuppy “rocks”?) I then enlisted the aid of a formatter (to whom I will introduce you in a later post.)
On May 1, 2014, I published the new e-version of OATHTAKER.
Here are the pics we started with—the blade (above), the shot of Mybelin and the background from PhotoDeposit:
And here is the final cover REVEAL: