Happy Birthday To Me!

Posted on Apr 13, 2016

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My birthday present came in the mail yesterday! Now, my birthday is actually in October, which is when Loish was running her kickstarter campaign for her new art book. I’ve never waited so long for a birthday present but it was well worth the patience because it is a gorgeous book. Loish (Lois Van Baarle) has been a huge inspiration for me ever since I entered the digital art world, over a decade ago, and it’s been a lot of fun to watch her grow as an artist (as I hopefully have been as well!).

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I love collecting art books. Not only are they a huge inspiration for my own work, but I love to share them with my girls. They are loving this book.

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The kickstarter stretch goal gave the backers each a pack of playing cards. Each card has a different painting on it. So pretty. My kids stole them already. Wish me luck in getting them all back! The kickstarter campaign is over, but you can still order the art books from 3D Total.

I need to do a post sometime with my whole art book collection! Do you have a favourite art book?

Lady Rose

Posted on Apr 11, 2016

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I’m back to watching Downton Abbey! Only on Season 5 but of course the internet is full of spoilers.

Thank You Michael Whelan

Posted on Apr 6, 2016

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When I was a kid, we didn’t have any internet. This wasn’t remarkable, it was just the 80’s. (We also had to walk to school uphill both ways in the pouring snow, but that’s a story for another day).

This daily, hourly, minutely onslaught of artistic inspiration I now take for granted? Non-existent. And yet I can remember being in love with art from a very young age.

My parents read a lot of fantasy and science fiction. My home growing up was littered with Mercedes Lackey, Larry Niven, but most of all, Anne McCaffrey.

I remember staring at the covers of those Anne McCaffrey novels and being convinced that the stories inside must be amazing.  There were dragons on the covers! With people riding them! I mean, I was no stranger to dragons, but there was something about these books. They looked infinitely more interesting than whatever kids chapter book I was currently mowing my way through (I read the entire Sweet Valley Twins series in one week of summer vacation. Very dull, no dragons.).

My dad had a habit of leaving his books in the bathroom and I remember picking them up, randomly reading sections, then carefully replacing them in the exact same spot.

I just had to know what was inside those covers!

I did eventually get old enough to read all the pretty books myself, and Anne McCaffrey remains a favourite. Her books are like old friends. But there are two things I learned from my childhood obsession with her books.

1) Michael Whelan is an artistic genius.

and

2) A good book cover is pure magic.

I adore creating book covers, and while I’m no Michael Whelan, I hope that my covers can give people that same sense of breathless anticipation to read the story within.

Magic.

Rainy Day

Posted on Apr 4, 2016

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You can see the sketch for this illustration here. The puppy is for my daughters, they think that every piece I do should have a pet in it. Also, I want to dye the bottom of my hair purple, but I’m not sure if I’m brave enough. I like to live vicariously through my artwork.

How to Use CreateSpace Templates to Set up Your Book Cover Design Properly for Print

Posted on Mar 30, 2016

Hey guys, today I’m taking you through the process of using a template from CreateSpace to set up your book cover for print. You can use a lot of the same tricks with other templates but I know that CreateSpace gets a lot of use by indie authors. I hope I can save you some time and stress in figuring it out.

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To download the template go to: https://www.createspace.com/Help/Book/Artwork.do

I don’t find the template easy to find on the website, so I always just google “CreateSpace Template” which gets me there quicker.

Input your details. Most people will be doing a black and white interior, so that’s easy.

Trim size is up to you, I design a lot of 6×9 books but honestly I like the size of the 5.25×8 best. Your choice will depend on how long your book is (a longer book might be more manageable with a larger trim size and therefore less pages) and your preference.

You need the page count to be exact so make sure you’re fully done formatting the book, including all the title pages, back matter and other random pages.

I prefer cream paper to white, the white is really…white. Unnaturally white.

Click the Build Template button and download the .zip file. Then unzip it on your computer to get started in Photoshop.

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Go into Photoshop and open the .pdf file you received in the .zip. Because it’s a PDF you will need to tell it what size you want to open at.

Be sure to set the resolution to at least 300 Pixels/Inch. I do my art at 600 dpi, but there’s no point in creating the cover at that resolution as CreateSpace doesn’t want a file that big. Also, be sure that Constrain Proportions is checked.

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Here’s what it will look like when you open it up. You can just make a new layer underneath the template and work like that to make sure that everything lines up. I am not a fan of that system, so I came up with a more elegant solution. We’re going to use the Rulers.

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Go into View and make sure Rulers are selected, along with Extras.

Snap helps you line up things to the lines you make with Rulers, or to the center or edges. Sometimes this is helpful, sometimes it keeps you from putting the object where you want it to go, so I turn Snap on and off frequently as I work.

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Now, choose your move tool. Go up to the ruler that runs along the edge of your workspace and drag a blue line down to the dotted line on the template. You can reposition the line if you need to once you’ve created it.

Do this for all the dotted lines. If you create a line you didn’t want, you can just drag it back off the workspace.

Now hit CTRL + H (Command+H for Mac). Did the lines disappear? CTRL + H again will bring them back. I toggle them on and off as I need them.

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Your template is almost ready to use, but don’t forget the barcode! Drag a selection box around it.

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Then create a new layer and fill the selection with solid white (fffff).

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Now you can either trash the original template, or hide it by clicking the eyeball beside the layer.

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Here’s a template in use. You can see that even though the printer will aim to cut at the lines, your image needs to go all the way to the edge of the document. This is the bleed, and it’s very important as printers can’t be trusted to cut right along the line, they need a little wiggle room.

You can see that I have a couple extra guides on the back cover. I add a line to show where the crease hits, because I don’t like my text to go across the crease. It’s harder to read and it doesn’t need to be that close to the edge anyway. I have a matching line on the other side just to help me keep things centered.

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If spine is a different colour than the covers, make it slightly wider than the guides. Books nearly always come back a little crooked, and I hate seeing the front or back cover on the spine.

This is something to think about  when you’re designing the cover, an image that wraps across the front, spine, and back will give you a bit more room for printer error than a solid spine like this one. I still love solid spines though 😉 I like the bright colours on my book shelf.

For the same reason, make sure the elements of your spine are all well inside the guides, having them touch the edges of when it’s printed looks sloppy, and highlights an off centered cut job. You can’t control what goes on at the printer’s end, so do everything you can on your end to make it turn out as professional looking as possible.

I hope this helps you use the CreateSpace templates more easily for your next book cover! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.

A Rainy Sketch

Posted on Mar 28, 2016

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Working on an illustration based off of this lovely stock photo. 

A Farm Fresh Photoshoot

Posted on Mar 26, 2016

In honour of Valerie Comer’s 6th and final Farm Fresh Romance novel coming out, we had to do a little photoshoot while I was down visiting a few days ago. I’ve been so honoured to get to work with my mom and favourite author on this series (Raspberries and Vinegar was my first ever book cover, three years ago!), and it’s a lot of fun to hold the entire series in print.

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Here’s Berry On Top, the newest book.

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She cracks me up.

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And of course I couldn’t resist having her take a couple shots with me. I’m so proud of how this series turned out!

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And yes, I am a nerd.

If you are a lover of Christian romance with a dash of farm life, you should check out these books. They are really good. Yes I’m biased, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong!

Deco Love

Posted on Mar 21, 2016

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Little sketch based on this gorgeous photo.

Book Cover Inspiration #4

Posted on Mar 16, 2016

This batch of book cover inspiration features photo covers! Which one is your favourite?

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  1. The Chess Queen Enigma by Colleen Gleason
  2. My Accidental Jihad by Krista Bremer, cover by Anne Winslow

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3. The Secrets of Attraction by Robin Constantine

4. Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton

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5. Stones for Bread by Christa Parrish

6. Persuaded by Rachel Schurig, cover by Scarlette Rugers

Etta’s Garden

Posted on Mar 14, 2016

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This is the first interior illustration for my upcoming YA novel, Mermaid Problems. Etta, hanging out it her garden. It was a scene that I could see really clearly while I was writing it. I’m excited to share the things in my head both with words and illustrations :)

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