It takes a lot of science and a bit of madness to create great book covers. You can catch up to where we are with part 1, part 2, and part 3. And where are we? Oh yes, image shopping.
We have our backgrounds. Now onto the unsmiling protagonist, because it's against the law to smile on urban fantasy covers.
I spent several hours looking at images of models for the heroines of my Totem series. I'm going to guess over twenty hours, maybe closer to thirty. Crazy, I know, but that's the perfectionist in me.
Did I find images of women that I thought looked exactly as the characters do in my head? No. And that's okay. Readers are going to imagine the characters differently too.
Note: some books have the protagonist with her back to the audience or her head chopped off at the top of the cover. The reason for this is not to give readers a preconceived notion of what the character looks like. If this is your strategy, go for it. (It'll make image shopping much easier!) I know people who prefer that. For me, I like to see faces.
My requirements when shopping for images of models:
- it must be a full body picture or three-fourths. (You can chop it down later if need be.)
- the model must be standing against a plain background or one you can easily extract her from. (My Photoshop skills are average. When I'm cutting a model from her image to place on the cover's background, I want as little interference from other objects in the picture as possible.)
- it must be in color with good lighting. (You can do all the special effects later.)
My requirement specifically for my Totem heroines:
- they must be clothed. And the clothes must be appropriate for that character.
- they must be pale blonde and have little to no makeup. (Very difficult to find. Tip: type "natural" in the image search bar to find models with no makeup.)
- they must be strong without looking mean. Without smiling, of course.
Easy, right? Yeah, I know. It's like trying to find lost pirate treasure.
Totem #1 - Ametta Dorn
Ametta is the youngest sister and the one who gives me the most grief when I'm writing her. She's young, hip, artistic, and opinionated. She loves women's fashion and has impeccable taste while I do not.
Her general physical characteristics: short in height, short blonde hair, tasteful makeup, modern fashion, about twenty-five years old. (Tip: it's fairly easy to change a model's eye color in Photoshop.)
Her main personality characteristics: determination, confidence, a little sass.
What do you think? Can you see Ametta as a famous interior designer?
Totem #2 - Kinley Dorn
Kinley is my favorite. Yes, she's a geek! But an image of her was the most difficult to find. I could not find any picture of a blonde with glasses that suited me. And I really wanted glasses on her. Sure, she only needs them for reading, but how often do we see women with glasses on urban fantasy covers? I can't name one. I had to give it up, though, and focus on other aspects of her.
Her general physical characteristics: tall, willowy, long pale blonde hair, no makeup, mid to late twenties.
Her main personality characteristics: compassion, strength, a bit of timidity.
If I could photoshop glasses on Kinley and make it look good, I totally would. (I'm also covering her midriff to make her wearing a tank top.)
Totem #3 - Saskia Dorn
Saskia is the eldest sister and she kicks butt. She's what you might imagine a stereotypical urban fantasy heroine to be but with a twist.
Her general physical characteristics: tall, lean muscles, long pale blonde hair, no makeup, early thirties.
Her main personality characteristics: ferocity, grit, willfulness.
I wish she was wearing black, but the expression is perfect.
Next time: the rest of the cover elements!