Merry Kisses: A Cover Design Process

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Merry Kisses is the fifth and final book in Valerie Comer’s Riverbend Romance Series of Novellas. The series branding includes the header and footer graphics that evoke a rivery feeling, and hand lettered titles over photos of couples holding hands.

And I just have to brag that I came up with the title during one of our discussions about the series. I love puns, I can’t help myself.

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Doing these seasonal covers has been tricky as we are always getting ready to publish well before the actual season hits.  Because there is already a winter themed cover in this series we wanted to do something a bit different and went for a decidedly Christmassy feel.

For those of you who don’t know, Valerie is my mother so when we were discussing the shoot and the timeline (which was getting tight, it’s harder to source a Santa costume in a small town than you might think) I suggest that she and Dad could model for me. She thought it was a fun idea and managed to convince my father to go along with it (the bribery of getting to visit his grandchildren might have had something to do with it). Doesn’t he look excited? No?

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Here’s a shot my mom took while I was getting set up (in my smexy sweatpants). It was a brighter day than I would have prefered, but I ended up attatched a sheet to some shrubs and strung Christmas lights on it with saftey pins. It was a bit challenging as it was a pretty windy day.

As you can see my kids were very excited to see Santa…er…Grampa.

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The original photo is on the left. I wanted more sparkle and more bokeh than I was able to get with the setup I had so I took a bunch of shots of just the lights all out of focus. Then I overlayed three of them to create the soft glowy background I had in mind. I also tweaked the photo for warmth and brightness.

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Next came the lettering. As always I sketched over a tracing of the photo to get a composition I liked. You can see that I ended up making the M and K a bit bigger once I started to ink them in photoshop.

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Here are a couple of colour options I worked with before we decided on the green on the far right (as you can see, I play with colours while still working on the lettering).I was kind of digging the sparkly gold, but it didn’t tie in as well with the rest of the series. An idea to save for another Christmas cover.

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Here’s the finished cover, with a couple detail shots for you. Swirls just make me so happy.

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And here’s the whole set! Which is your favourite cover? (I can’t choose!)

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