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TheEarnestBunbury

Designing Pulp Book Covers

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I've been working on how to create book covers that imitate those of the pulpy paperbacks of years past. The idea was to work on a method that others could use as a viable - and so necessarily cheap - option for the self and Indie publishing market. I had been making do with an old version of Photoshop Elements that came with my Bamboo Fun & Touch tablet but decided to take the plunge and try Affinity Photo when I got a new computer, and that turned out to be a very good decision.

So... I start off in a program nobody likes to mention - Poser. I'm not too fussy about render settings as so much is changed in post, what matters is the figure, the posing, and the lighting. The result is then opened in Affinity Photo, where I start with some adjustment layers (highlights/shadows, brightness/contrast, colour balance), along with a plug-in from Topaz called Simplicity. This result is then saved out and opened up in a paint program called Art Rage and then attacked with an oil brush and knife to leave me with a faux painting.

In Affinity Photo, I've been building some book cover templates and the faux painting is introduced there, with some wear and tear added for a display version. The two designs I've posted here were both based on Mike Shayne covers (the first is one I've seen copied by other publishers, the second is a bit of a classic - enough for someone to have created a font based on it).

For very simple designs like this - ie a single figure with one or two props, and also assuming a cover design template is used, then the production time can be between 2-3hrs. I believe that someone more skilled than myself can probably do both a better job of it and at a faster time but even at my speed, I think this could mean a low enough cost for the target market. I don't think I'm ever going to be sufficiently happy with my own efforts to enter that market myself (or, to be honest, with enough free time), so I would like to encourage others to have a go themselves.

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Looks very good. The artwork matches the pulp paperback style very well.

I use a similar technique, but I often go for more of an 80's book cover look. I usually shoot backgrounds first. Then I render 3D elements with Daz Studio, and combine with the background photos in Affinity Photo. Finally, I use Dynamic Auto-Painter to convert to a painted image.

I have done the paint conversion in Affinity Photo a couple of times, with the paint mixer tool. Takes a lot of time, but works very well.

 

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Hi, I was just looking at a couple of your posts and was very impressed with what you have done with compositing and Dynamic Auto-Painter (also your T-Rex mouth-cam, which was great fun).

I do think that 3D models lend themselves very well to a natural media finish - partly because of the uncanny valley. Photos of faces that have been filtered this way, often fail to sell the effect because it can't hide the exactness of the photographic source, while the little failings in a 3D model that gives rise to the uncanny valley in photo-realism, actually help sell a natural media effect, suggesting the imperfect hand of an artist over the perfect rendition of film.

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On 9/16/2018 at 9:08 PM, TheEarnestBunbury said:

I do think that 3D models lend themselves very well to a natural media finish - partly because of the uncanny valley. Photos of faces that have been filtered this way, often fail to sell the effect because it can't hide the exactness of the photographic source, while the little failings in a 3D model that gives rise to the uncanny valley in photo-realism, actually help sell a natural media effect, suggesting the imperfect hand of an artist over the perfect rendition of film.

I agree. A couple of years ago, a few of my friends and I created a graphic novel, A Rift in Time. We are photographers, so we photographed all the backgrounds and the live action, then composited in everything we could not shoot live, like dinosaurs. We used toy dinosaurs.

We had a choice between making the dinosaurs look realistic, which was possible but required an enormous amount of work, or to make everything else look less realistic. We went the latter route, and made fairly simple composites, which we then converted so they looked like drawings using Comic Life.

Now, we are working on a new story, and the plan is to render as much as possible using Daz Studio, composite in Affinity Photo, convert to paintings in Dynamic Auto-Painter, and do the layout in Affinity Publisher...if the final version is as good as we hope it will be. We are testing the beta right now.

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