Monday, February 09, 2015

Welcome Sheri McGathy

Welcome everyone, I'm joining all of you in the audience today. Sheri McGathy will be hosting today. Grab your goodies on the table and pour your favorite beverage and settled in.

A special thank you to Mary Martinez for hosting me on her blog.

By way of a small introduction…my name is Sheri McGathy, and I am an author who also does cover designs, and, I’m a cover designer who also writes. Either or both, the two sides of my creative nature actually compliment each other. Both sides allow me to ask, “What if?”

My creative process towards cover design is much like my approach to crafting a story. I fly into the mist and wait to see what happens. I don’t mean that I have no clue and just toss paint against a canvas. I do have a starting point and a beginning idea, but sometimes, or really most times, the imagination kicks in and expands and I just go with it. Like a story, the cover should tell a tale too, or hint at what is to come once the reader opens the book and settles down to read.

My process is sort of crazy, I guess, or it might seem so to others. I just never know for sure what I
Coming soon...
am going to come up with after all the information is provided. I think that is part of the fun. First, if I am hired to create a cover, then I want to read the blurb, if finished, and I want the author to give me the “meat,” of the story. I like it when the author can convey to me the feel they want. And I do like links to stock art suggestions for the cover. I can’t always use the art. Sometimes it just won’t work on the cover. I don’t know why, but sometimes it just looks great on the stock art site and fails when I try to put the cover together. I use Photoshop almost exclusively. I love the layers and I often use those layers to merge different backgrounds to make new ones! It just depends on the feel I am going for and what the author wants. I usually design with comp art, and buy the real deal once a design is approved.

After I get some input from the author about the story, genre, and art suggestions, I begin. I first have a look at the art suggestions and try to get a feel for the cover. If I don’t quite feel it will work, I go on the hunt looking for other art possibilities. Sometimes that can take days. At least I now have an idea of what the author thinks their characters look like. I’ll download comps and try them on the art board, see what works and what doesn’t (this includes backgrounds) as I try to capture the feel of what the author wants for the cover. Sometimes I get very lucky and my instincts are good. Sometimes it takes a while. And sometimes I simply fail.

Since I can change hair and eye color, I advice we concentrate on the character(s) “look,” and then we’ll doctor them up later. It’s amazing what that doctoring might involve. Hair added, removed, clothes added or changed, tattoos added or removed…the list is interesting. I do what I can.

While I am hunting characters, I am also hunting for the correct background(s) or secondary elements. To me, they are just as important as the characters. And sometimes, many times, you have a great background, a great character, and nope, the two do nothing for each other. Hit and miss. It’s not uncommon for me to tweak the backgrounds or add art that maybe others might not even notice. As an example, I just finished working on a 1950s cover. I could’ve just slapped the old cars in the background and focused on the couple only, but I like to add little details from the era. Fuzzy dice perhaps, a drive-in burger tray? I want it to feel right, if possible. I never know what exactly I might do until I see the cover start to come together. That’s all part of flying into the mist.

Pre-made cover
Once I have something put together, and have figured out the fonts to use, I send to the author and then we start the honing part. The “can we change this or that or add this or that” part. Sometimes I don’t have to revise at all. Those are priceless moments! After I get a final design okay, then the high res art is purchased and the final design is completed and files sent to the author.

I have a lot of pre-made covers, mainly because I love crafting them. I probably spend far too much time on crafting them, but, as I said, I love doing it. Note here, I had a client once tell me she didn’t visit my pre-made page because she didn’t want a cookie cutter type cover. She was under the impression that a pre-made meant I would recycle the design over and over with the only difference being a change of title and author. No, no and NO! Absolutely not what I do…you buy it, it’s yours. I hope they are unique, but who knows.

As with all my creations, since I use stock art, others will have the same photo(s) on their covers, but what I hope is that I have made them look different, or different enough that the author feels happy.

And I do love happy authors.
You can find Sheri's cover design at: www.sherimcgathy.com/sheri/book-cover-design/
PS... Check out my Web Site and Blog banner--Yup you got it, it's a design by Sheri. Along with most of my covers that are lined up down the right side of this blog page. Check them out.

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