Cover Art and a Reminder That Skin Has Texture

(Or we’re not made of plastic.)

One of the things I worry about in that far distant future of publication, should I ever be happy enough with  my own work to through it into the self pubbed wilds is covers.

I haven’t found any stock models (hush, of course I’m looking early, that’s what I do to feel like I’m working without actually working) that look like I want for ‘Haughty’.

Come ON.  How hard is it to create stock photos of a buff woman in a formal gown?  It doesn’t have to be any particular style of cut, just formal enough to wear to a ball.

The only stock I can find of women in gowns is predominantly white and often wearing way, WAY too much make up.  Also they’re ridiculously thin and sexily posed or just posed in the angsting way, which are NOT a fit for my Young Adult Dystopian Fantasy.  Jilly is many things: Gothic she is not.  Okay, yeah, thin might be okay, but part of the point is that the main character has climbed OUT of starvation and looks healthy finally.

And most of the other models are wearing either modern clothing  which, though reasonably posed, is no good for my book genre or they’re in ‘ethnic’ clothing  that I can’t tell if it’s actually an ethnic style or just something the photographer thought up sometime after a few stiff drinks and searching amazon for costume parts.

So what happens if you find a model you like but they aren’t wearing what they want?

Photoshop.  Our old friend Photoshop.  Which is GREAT.  I’m serious.  Photoshop, when done well can tie different poses together, change clothing, change lighting, and generally make things awesome for a lot cheaper than hiring a cover artist to paint you something.

I’m sure you’ve all see the variety of Photoshop goofs magazines make, although they aren’t the only culprit, but those seem to be inattentive goofs for the most part.  Oops, forgot to erase a hand!  How many fingers did we need again?  You mean thighs can be too thin?  NO WAY!  They make me laugh and snort coffee and go on with my day.

But the one I’m seeing in covers that I CANNOT stand?

Skin smoothing.

SKIN HAS PORES.  And TEXTURE.  They shouldn’t look glossy!  It makes me crazy.

And what makes me ever MORE crazy is transparent layers used to create ‘stubble’.  THIS IS EVEN WORSE.  Look, from a distance that may work, but when you have a close up there needs to be TEXTURE.  It’s hair!  It’s not a uniform wash of color.

I cringe when I see them.  This isn’t a deal breaker at all for buying a book (I don’t generally care about the cover – I read a lot on rec or just based on reviews.), but the artist in me wails and throws up her hands in dismay.  Part of becoming a better artist for me was learning to add texture to make things more realistic.  And I will note that, yes, I was aiming for photorealistic art, and I will note that, yes, it took me so long and made my hands hurt so much I gave up.  But still, that was the next step for me.

If you want solid washes of color, it needs to be a cartoon or comic style, something not meant to appear lifelike.  That’s fine.  But if the photo you’re using is going to be at all realistic, PLEASE TEXTURE IT.  There are cheats for using Photoshop filters for doing exactly that if you’d just Google for it so that your blending and layering isn’t obvious.

So that’s my rant for the day!

What bugs you when you see it on covers?  I’ll admit the swooning women on Romance covers always make me laugh!  No examples given to protect the innocent.