Today, I worked on a cover that I normally would have assigned to someone else, but that someone else already had plenty on her plate, and I wanted to do something a little different from my usual fare and take a break from my illustration work. So I took on Amanda Steiger’s urban fantasy, Unclaimed, where the author requests something like The Scent of Shadows—except the heroine should have short black hair.
I had a hard time finding the stock photos I wanted, at first. Then I resigned myself to doing a little more work than I usually do and do some head swapping so that I could make do with what stock photos I could find. So I purchased these photos:
and whipped this up:
I thought I’d done a pretty good job when I sent it off, despite the slight differences in light sources and obvious paint jobs, especially considering how quickly I managed to put the elements together once I found them. But when I got the author’s feedback, my shoulders slumped, and I wanted to close my laptop and call it a day. For the most part, she loved it, but she wanted to know if I could lighten the woman’s lips and add some kind of dark leather jacket. The first, I could do very easily, but the second…
I guess I didn’t read her e-mail all that closely because it looked to me like she wanted me to put the model in a leather jacket. This is like, but not quite as bad as, presenting a photo of someone from the front, where then people ask you to flip it over so you can see a photo of that same someone from the back. If your thought is, “But wait a minute … how?”—yes, that was my thought, too.
Normally, I would have fixed the lips and then reasonably explained to the author that I would have to swap the model out entirely and possibly lose the pose and everything nice about the cover to find another model that wore a leather jacket. I would have said, “Yeah, that’s not so easy, and this is an e-book cover for a small independent publisher, not a high-paying cover at, say, Penguin,” and left it at that.
But my plate is near empty—I haven’t had a bunch of new cover assignments in a while, and I’ve finally caught up with most of my work, finally getting down to my more time-intensive illustration projects—so I said, “Whatever. Let’s give it a go.” And I searched for leather jackets.
I especially tried finding something in the same relative pose, something with one bent arm and one straightened arm, something I could coerce onto the model I used for the cover, and this, on the right, was the best I could do.
And then I pieced that jacket bit by bit, painting the seams together, until somehow I managed to do as the author asked and added that leather jacket.
Thank goodness the author loved the second draft. It made taking the road I don’t normally take really worth it.