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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How Artist & Author Alicia Kat Dillman creates stunning covers (+ contest)!

Behind the Cover: A Peek Through the Mists

How I breathe life into the stories in my head, or in other words, how I convey a whole story within a single image.

First I decide what story I’m trying to tell; what I’m trying to get across in the image. Then I hit the books, analyzing what’s out there. Trying to design something that’s true to the story while at the same time something that will stand out from the pack of other new releases.

Daemons in the Mist is very atmospheric, almost like the environment is a real breathing creature itself, and my characters embody their environments. I wanted to convey this on the cover, so I chose one main character and one location that reflected a part of the city and the character at the same time.

For this first book I wanted Nualla, one of Daemons in the Mist’s main characters, to look like she was standing across the street from you, her hair caught up in the gust of wind from a passing car. Placing her firmly in our world but at the same time pulling you into something hidden; something extraordinary. She is as much inviting you, the reader, into her world as she invites Patrick into her life in the story.

And I wanted a bridge, in this case the Bay Bridge. Why did I chose the Bay Bridge instead of the Golden Gate Bridge for the cover of Daemons in the Mist? Because really the Golden Gate Bridge is for tourists, most of the locals, the commuters and students, use the Bay Bridge to come into the city. The story is about people who live in the city each day and most of the books are set there so I wanted the readers to get a taste of the city the way I see it. But why a bridge in the first place? In the story, Patrick makes a journey from the human world into the world of daemons, much like a bridge carries us into a new place. Parts of the bridge are obscured by fog conveying to the viewer that not everything is what it seems.

Once I have the story I’m trying to convey firmly in my mind, I start the actual process of creating a cover. For the base ofDaemons in the Mist’s cover, stock photography was used as part of a newer art form called enhanced photo-imagery. I head on over to the stock photography sites and browse for what I need. I then download their mock images and jump into InDesign to start mocking up a cover based on the template generated by the book printers. Because Daemons in the Mist is part of a trilogy, all 3 books were mocked up at the same time. When I get the cover design the way I like it, I purchase the chosen images and head on over to Painter.

I then use my custom designed brushes and go to town. I tend to use what they call “illustrative color” and even though my process with this cover was a departure from my norm, my signature style and use of vibrant color and dramatic lighting is still present. Once the painting is complete, I head back over to InDesign and import the final art before exporting the file and sending it off to the printer.

And that’s how my covers are born.

About Alicia Kat Dillman
Indie author & illustrator Alicia Kat Dillman is a lifelong resident of the San Francisco Bay Area. Kat illustrates and designs book covers & computer game art by day and writes teen fiction by night. The owner of two very crazy studio cats and nine overfull bookcases, Kat can usually be found performing, watching anime or hanging out in twitter chats when not playing in the imaginary worlds within her head. 

Daemons in the Mist
Seventeen year old Patrick Connolly has been hopelessly infatuated with Nualla for years but he is all but invisible to her. Until, that is, he rescues her from a confrontation with her ex. Little does Patrick know he’s just set off a dangerous chain reaction that will thrust him into a world of life altering secrets and things that shouldn’t exist, because the fog and mist of San Francisco is concealing more than just buildings.

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Book Link:

Want to win your own copy of Daemons in the Mist?  (Yes, you do! Trust me!)  Enter below.

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Vidisha said...

Probably freak out....but still continue to love him :D

Arianne said...

I would be curious and scared at the same time. if he happened to be a vampire, I'd be excited lol

alicia marie said...

i don't know what it would bother me. it probably would depend on what it is they were and if it would change them a lot or not : )

Phoenix Carvelli said...

Sounds pretty typical for me! It would be just another day in the neighborhood.

Alicia Kat Vancil said...

Jessie- Thank you again for being such an awesome host. And thanks all you awesome peeps for stopping by her fab book blog.


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