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Thread: judging books by their covers

  1. #31
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    I think Chris Bennett got it right with the movie analogy.

    I don't mind ultra photo real imagery, it has it's place but, when I see the mass of the fantasy and science fiction publishing market (and I am not talking about RPGs and card games here) being dominated by the ultra realist painter, who if you ask me is probably masking other shortcomings under the awesome rendering skillset, I worry, because it's not that kind of art that makes you want to read a story much less be a painter.

    Add to that the fact that it makes the transition to photo manipulation and graphic design easier (and will be cheaper eventually, I think the article here http://theartorder.com/2012/02/06/my...-based-covers/ is a little far fetched with all the crap about make up artists and hair stylists n stuff, cost wise) and it's easy to make the assumption that maybe, just maybe this high quality art (and it IS high quality no question about it) may be doing a little damage to the profession. Let alone that I consider an artist who spends half his commission fee and 200 hours painting a huge ultra real canvas a sucker compared to his colleague who may be working for the same clients, make the same money, yet go a different more personal route and at the fraction of the cost/time.

    In a business where you hear so many professionals advise us to focus our work on the market we want to work in, it seems peculiar how you have people who want to work in the animation industry produce the horrid 3d covers, the people who want to shoot models for magazines make pictures for fantasy books, and the people who want to paint the Prince of Zamunda's portrait do science fiction posters!!!

    Still, it's all good fun.

    "Don't judge a book by it's cover" Frank Frazetta 1928-2010
    RIP Frank.

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  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    All girl-and-horse books are, at their core, romances.
    How would you know that?


    Add to that the fact that it makes the transition to photo manipulation and graphic design easier (and will be cheaper eventually, I think the article here http://theartorder.com/2012/02/06/my...-based-covers/ is a little far fetched with all the crap about make up artists and hair stylists n stuff, cost wise
    I'm getting a little tired of people here with little or no experience calling out those with tons of it. What is the basis for your argument that this is far-fetched? This is at least the second time I have run across a thread where someone has questioned info on Art Order run by a really experienced art director. Maybe I'm wrong. Do you have a ton of experience with this?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Conniekat8 View Post
    Maybe he does, maybe he doesn't. Who died and made you and few others the boss of what people are allowed to say around here?

    What basis do you have insisting people need to have certain level of expertise before they are allowed to have an opinion here? Do you do the same with your students? Discourage them to think for themselves, have them just shut up and follow?

    Every other thread, same people keep jumping in and raving about "you're not the pro, so you have no idea about what you're talking about"

    Methinks few of you need 'pro's only' forum here, keep the rest of us lowly rifraf from bothering you.
    Wow. The reason I spoke to this was that it has happened more than once that people have questioned "facts" put out there generously by art directors and artists who have done this a long time. I am not talking about opinions but facts. If you are going to question someone about the marketing that they have done for years then you better know your stuff.

    Never given you a reason to put me on your shit list but now I'll gladly go on it.

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  4. #34
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    Bill, I think you were a little to fast to snap at me but it's OK. Let me try to explain myself.

    I was expressing my opinion. But even if I was making an educated guess, an estimate, it would be based on any and all the relative experiences I have, do
    you think anyone does anything different in any other situation? No need to get in an argument with ConnieKat.

    No matter what experience I have, I do know that it doesn't cost as much as is implied by by the Art Order article to get a photographer in a studio, set up
    a couple of lights with a pro crew, have a few models do a pose and have some gum chewing bimbo put some make up on them and comb their hair just so
    they can take a picture. You know why? Because when you are making a cover for Generic-Who-Gives-A-Piss-Fantasy-Novel-No.39049 you don't hire Arnold Schwarzenegger and Monica Bellucchi as models, you don't hire some world famous photographer and light technicians to set up your scene and you don't
    hire that $3,000 and hour make up artist to prepare your model. You can get an awesome result in a days work for $1,000, give the photos to your graphic
    artist to manipulate and have your cover for under $2,000 in a week with an average crew. Go Donato's way and you'll end up paying him upwards $5,000
    (and you very well should, he and no one is and should be making masterpieces for less) and give him 2 months to do the painting. I know this because I
    have girl friends who do pro photo shoots for their portfolios and pay the crew less than $500 a day and get paid $100-300 a day for a shoot when they
    are hired. I'm sure there are crews and models that get paid less and would be good enough for the purposes we are discussing.

    But even if I am wrong, and have incorrect figures and estimates, it's still going to eventually get cheaper and faster. Also, think of it this way. A
    publisher publishes X amount of books per year. Not all of them are going to be best sellers. Most probably none of them will be. The strategy they take on
    how they ornament the books will most likely be based on what their strong points are as publishers. If they have the ability to advertise their books via
    spiced up reviews, presence in magazines or wherever it may be important for them and convince prospective readers that their books are good, they
    probably won't care about the cover too much and will care less in the future if they can. Check out the cover of the first editon of Lord of the Rings, yet
    the average pulp story in the 1930s got a cover.



    The bottom line is that a cover is supposed to make the book sell. But if it looks too much like a photo, my estimate is that eventually, the next ones will
    be photos, or not as memorable illustrations. I hope I am wrong, but I am worried.

    I think OmenSpirits said it best
    The only people that care, are the people that want to create the artwork.
    And one more thing...I question the honesty of gurus who, on one hand share some info vaguely, based on their experience and go on rambling about
    hard work etc, yet never lose a chance to advertise their $300 a pop "workshop" where they will share their valuable experience with you to help you,
    just because they love you and want to give back! I find more honesty and value in the guy who says "This is my DVD or book and I say all I know here,
    buy it and piss off" or in the other guy who says "This is my work and my experience and methods are my own! Get lost", rather than know-it-all scholars
    and their daily advertisements...er...blogs. But that's another story.

    Last edited by Line; February 26th, 2012 at 11:20 AM.
    "Don't judge a book by it's cover" Frank Frazetta 1928-2010
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    Sorry if it felt like an attack Line. This is not the first thread where the people of Art Order were called into question and I am getting a little sensitive about it. It's as if people are saying wait they are making this stuff up. Everything can be done differently but to call what they said far fetched is dismissing their experience.

    The problem never lies in people expressing their opinions but in dismissing well informed opinions. I will always ask someone to defend an opinion if it defies the opinion of someone I know is well informed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Line View Post
    the average pulp story in the 1930s got a cover
    That all dates back to penny dreadfuls and such. Where lurid covers almost always promised more than the content. Gothic illustrations saw a rise in popularity in the early 19th century and remained a long standing tradition and trademark in the pulp market.

    Pulp books are meant to be eye catching and appeal on a purely visual level. They all had to compete against on another for their low worth and generally the one with the initial promise of the biggest breasts and most gore had the best chance of being picked up.

    Conversely I think LOTR had a more quiet release as it was published in the conservative 50's by Collins no less, (who originally printed bibles.)

    Personally I like the understated LOTR covers and I intentionally avoided any book with Jackson movie still covers. (Though I do appreciate the movie helping to sell books.)

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    I understand Bill. Don't worry.

    I have nothing against the Art Order. Maybe what I called far fetched was their experience and mine is different, who knows. I wasn't attacking the dudes no.

    The problem is that this is business with sentiment, hehe. It can get confusing.

    @Star Eater: I don't mean that one route is better than the other. I was just trying to explain how one book that is now a phenomenon, and was a major
    creation for the time, didn't have the extravagant exterior that "lesser" stories did. But, as far as the practical purpose of those pulp covers are concerned,
    they did their job well I suppose.

    Last edited by Line; February 26th, 2012 at 11:29 AM.
    "Don't judge a book by it's cover" Frank Frazetta 1928-2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    All girl-and-horse books are, at their core, romances.
    Quote Originally Posted by bcarman View Post
    How would you know that?
    He just knows.

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    Really Brian? I guess my jokes need some polishing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Line View Post
    @Star Eater: I don't mean that one route is better than the other. I was just trying to explain how one book that is now a phenomenon, and was a major
    creation for the time, didn't have the extravagant exterior that "lesser" stories did. But, as far as the practical purpose of those pulp covers are concerned,
    they did their job well I suppose.
    Oh yeah I get that, I thought the post was interesting. Personally, I'd like to know when the first illustrated cover for the Lord of the Rings was published.

    The first one I ever saw was the copy I own now with Gandalf walking through a moody rainfall with his backpack. (John Howe)

    Anyway, don't want to derail the thread so...

    Painted Covers (painted on the PC or with real media) FTW!

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    I never look for a fight. A good discussion yes. And I never PM in order to gang up on someone and would guess that very few here do.

    It just gets old when opinions are given when they are uninformed. Maybe I'm wasting my time here. I left other boards because the same thing started happening. Beginners began aping pros input and then started dishing out bad info. By then they were entrenched because their names showed up so often and newbies took them for knowing what they were talking about rather than simply mimicking info that they had heard.

    These boards are about opinions and discussion but there comes a point when someone says , "Well I heard its OK to build houses out of cotton balls in Northern Alaska because cotton balls have this super secret chemical property to block wind and cold."

    I have called a few of these people out asking for back up for their "opinions" but never seem to hear back other than the old, well I can have my opinion response.

    Messages will never replace conversation because they lack the clues that inform us when someone is being sarcastic or joking. I know plenty of people who have gotten in trouble for that. I'm sure a lot of that happens here. But experience is experience and when someone defies what I know I will ask for back up. Sometimes it sounds mean, maybe sometimes it is, but it would be much easier for me to just leave rather than respond. Hasn't come to that yet.

    So I won't fight unless you call me out.

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    The photo covers in the OP give me an entirely different impression.

    The illustrations show ADVENTURE and the subtitles tell me with some romance, Dude, and Pirates! - I'm game!

    The other one look like the Horse Whisperer and Might be Bondage on a boat. A fucking Boat man! Some frail looking blond I can't associate with unless I'm young White reader.

    Now, yeah all of them have a Caucasian on the front, but the photos make me feel more alienated due to the prominence of the girl

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    Quote Originally Posted by bcarman View Post
    I never look for a fight. A good discussion yes. And I never PM in order to gang up on someone and would guess that very few here do.

    It just gets old when opinions are given when they are uninformed. Maybe I'm wasting my time here. I left other boards because the same thing started happening. Beginners began aping pros input and then started dishing out bad info. By then they were entrenched because their names showed up so often and newbies took them for knowing what they were talking about rather than simply mimicking info that they had heard.

    These boards are about opinions and discussion but there comes a point when someone says , "Well I heard its OK to build houses out of cotton balls in Northern Alaska because cotton balls have this super secret chemical property to block wind and cold."

    I have called a few of these people out asking for back up for their "opinions" but never seem to hear back other than the old, well I can have my opinion response.

    Messages will never replace conversation because they lack the clues that inform us when someone is being sarcastic or joking. I know plenty of people who have gotten in trouble for that. I'm sure a lot of that happens here. But experience is experience and when someone defies what I know I will ask for back up. Sometimes it sounds mean, maybe sometimes it is, but it would be much easier for me to just leave rather than respond. Hasn't come to that yet.

    So I won't fight unless you call me out.
    I've often felt the same way Bill. Just as I get close to being sick and tired of ignorance justifying itself by misused egalitarianism along with an axe to grind I think of the guys and gals here who genuinely wish to learn and are much less vocal.
    I'm 54 and I have a lot of experience that it gives me great pleasure to share. 'Cos I was young once, eager to learn and things were such a damned mystery. God bless 'em for wanting to know this stuff. It's tough, we've been through the mill.
    So when this ugly attitude causes me to think 'stuff it, is it worth the effort' - I think of those who are keen and eager and open and interested in something other than themselves. And god knows, that's a wonderful thing. And I owe it to them to stick around. I was like them once. They are my brothers and sisters in battle. My experience is theirs to take, if they want it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Star Eater View Post
    Oh yeah I get that, I thought the post was interesting. Personally, I'd like to know when the first illustrated cover for the Lord of the Rings was published.
    That would be the unauthorized Ace paperback edition from the mid-'60s.


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    Well, since you two are talking about this.

    I give out knowledge of what I know, and what I don't know I think is best left to those who do. I will ask questions when pros give input because it's not just for me but allowing people to actually read what's going on in current trends.

    That's why you'll rarely see me give specific information on oil painting (for example) because I'm still learning. I will defer to posts that have covered the topic though.

    However, it is natural for people to question authority. That's also how we learn as aggravating as it is. Your parents tell you not to eat this food "because it's bad for you" as a kid you're like "screw you!" Then when you hit later years when you can buy this food, and later realize your cholesterol or blood pressure has sky rocketed - you realize "damn they were right". It's unlikely they had forgotten the advice or reasoning, but just didn't want to listen at the time till they realize the consequences.

    So I wouldn't say it's the nature of internet, but nature in general. Internet just allows easier concentrations of it, since it's easy to communicate.

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    Awesome thanks Elwell.

    For anyone else interested, here is an article with a couple of pictures

    http://www.tolkienlibrary.com/dmiller/000836.htm



    I must admit I really like that box that comes with it. I also find the illustration they chose for Return of the King interesting. Its a rare appearance of at least an -aspect- of Sauron after the ring is destroyed.
    Although his appearance location and pose is not correct.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sleepingrabbit View Post
    Thanks for the link. I guess if its all readers demands then, my disappointment should lay with the consumers who are incapable of appreciating decent art...
    Therein lay the issue.

    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bennett View Post
    I've often felt the same way Bill. Just as I get close to being sick and tired of ignorance justifying itself by misused egalitarianism along with an axe to grind I think of the guys and gals here who genuinely wish to learn and are much less vocal.
    I'm 54 and I have a lot of experience that it gives me great pleasure to share. 'Cos I was young once, eager to learn and things were such a damned mystery. God bless 'em for wanting to know this stuff. It's tough, we've been through the mill.
    So when this ugly attitude causes me to think 'stuff it, is it worth the effort' - I think of those who are keen and eager and open and interested in something other than themselves. And god knows, that's a wonderful thing. And I owe it to them to stick around. I was like them once. They are my brothers and sisters in battle. My experience is theirs to take, if they want it.
    Honestly it's the few that do keep me doing it. But in my classes I can discuss things directly when students question my answers and methods. And they are genuinely appreciative, except for that one time I was punched. I'm still getting used to people here just throwing out opinions with little or no knowledge. In class I call them on it and if there is no support they give in. Here I ask for support and either never hear again or get, "It's my opinion and that's enough." Maybe my patience wears thin because I'm a horrible typist but in a classroom I can sing, well warble a little.

    When I get in a discussion about things that other artists have experience with and that discussion gets good someone will drop in and offer a well I think this or that with no clue. It's their right but I have that knee jerk crusty reaction.

    I'm perfectly willing to believe it's me not being entirely used this kind of format. I think the biggest thing is that I critique work all day and try to find places where I can just discuss things with other people who have been around a little. Living in Boise I'm a little cut off. I guess I come here for the wrong reason but maybe I can still help out little and get discussion too.

    By the way depending on when your birthday is one of us is only a little oder than the other.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arshes Nei View Post
    However, it is natural for people to question authority...
    And quite right too!
    But the question should be a sincere question, not an opportunity for vandalism to justify an ego.
    Although the views one holds are the product of relatively long experience, they were born out of many vigorous questions to oneself and therefore one knows the value of questions in arriving nearer to a truth.
    I welcome questions and challanges to my viewpoint. It allows me to test my own ideas in defending them. If the challenge finds my idea wanting then I change my view in a heartbeat and am extremely grateful.
    I'm only interested in learning.
    And challenges to a point of view are vital to that.
    So bring on the questioning.
    But the questioner has to be as open as the one who is questioned.
    The vandal is only interested in themselves.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bcarman View Post
    By the way depending on when your birthday is one of us is only a little oder than the other.
    October 6th 1957.
    They had just stopped using feathers to write with then...

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    You are 12 days older than I. Freakin' old man.

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    Bugger.

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    Wow. Dudes from the 50s. It's an honor to know you esteemd sirs. Did you guys actually know Jack Kerouac?

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    I am Jack Kerouac.

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    Connie you are a blow hard and an attention wh0re, pure and simple. You derail every thread by arguing about things you yourself admit to having no knowledge of. You turn every thread into a personal therapy session on your life. Its easy to check and anyone can go back and read the threads you've commented in and your behavior in them. They are public record.

    When people call you on it you go off on personal attacks and accuse people of being in some secret cabal to 'get you'. Let me give you a clue since your so clueless and paranoid- Honey, you ain’t worth the time or effort.

    But it is worth it to point out your actions and behavior especially when you detract from the goal of this site which is to share knowledge about the topics of concept art and illustration.

    This thread is another example, it is about book covers; if you have experience doing them then by all means share your personal experience but we don't need a diary of your life unless we ask for it, save that for your therapist.

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  37. #56
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    Someone wondered about Tolkein book covers?
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    I bought this old paperback around 1973. Published by George Allen and Unwin Ltd. Sorry, no idea who the artist was; the book's so well-thumbed that the first few pages have fallen out.

    Also sorry that I couldn't stop the flash showing on the back cover illo.. I'm a rotten photographer...

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  39. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by alesoun View Post
    Someone wondered about Tolkein book covers?

    I bought this old paperback around 1973. Published by George Allen and Unwin Ltd. Sorry, no idea who the artist was; the book's so well-thumbed that the first few pages have fallen out.
    The cover artist is Pauline Baynes. I have the same edition somewhere.

    Edit: I should have realised that she did this map of Middle Earth too. I used to have this on my wall as a kid. I loved this poster!



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  41. #58
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    Thanks alesoun, aly fell, I have never seen that cover before either, I really like it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alesoun View Post
    Someone wondered about Tolkein book covers?
    Name:  100_3192.jpg
Views: 259
Size:  182.2 KB

    Name:  100_3195.jpg
Views: 260
Size:  191.7 KB

    I bought this old paperback around 1973. Published by George Allen and Unwin Ltd. Sorry, no idea who the artist was; the book's so well-thumbed that the first few pages have fallen out.

    Also sorry that I couldn't stop the flash showing on the back cover illo.. I'm a rotten photographer...
    Well, being a dude from the 50s (thanks Jeff) I remember that cover when it was brand new - you've made a happy man feel very old!

    I've always had a fondness for that cover, whether it is because of the ambiguity of the design or pure sentimentalism, is difficult to know.

    From Gegarin's point of view
    http://www.chrisbennettartist.co.uk/
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    Don't sweat it, Chris. I'm older than you are.

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    My earliest artistic influence... an illo by Margaret Tarrant. Can't show the dust jacket, it would've been lost (and probably scribbled on) years ago. "The Margaret Tarrant Nursery Rhyme Book"

    Edit;Jeez! It just struck me that my palette for most of my paintings is in that one illo.! Makes me wonder... how far does childhood influence reach? Creepy...

    Last edited by alesoun; February 26th, 2012 at 09:34 PM.
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