December 11, 2013 by bck1402
A couple of months back – just about – I shared some ideas for a cover design for my book. What’s happened since then? Well…
The computer I was primarily working on literally died from some severe internal complications. I took it to the repair / service centre and first requested that the hard drive be removed. This was simply so that I could hook it up to my laptop and pull the files I was working with. To do that, however, required me dropping by my usual hardware store to get an adapter, because the hard drive was a much larger monster that didn’t use the typical connectors like a simple USB port. That’s when the first sign of a problem crept up. I asked to test the adaptor in the shop, and they obliged. The adaptor was hooked up to the hard drive and a power source was connected (it’s those kind of massive hard drives that needed an external power source), and smoke wafted about. The wires of the adaptor had overheated and the pvc/rubber coating wrap melted!
The shop assistant tried a different adaptor, and again, smoke and melting occurred before he declared that the hard drive was gone. Forget about getting any data off that sucker. If I hooked it up to my laptop, chances were some damaged would occur.
They didn’t charge me for the two damaged adapters tho, so that was real nice of them. I’ve been a darn loyal customer for over 20 years and even recommended my few friends to them from time to time. That’s obviously going to continue until they decide to close up shop or move away (hope not).
I dutifully called the service centre and told them what happened with the hard drive. I think they took note. A week or just so later, I got a call back about the severity of the problem. Something in the mother-board was utterly wonky that was causing the system to automatically shut down even as it booted up. The most they could do was get it working (with a new hard drive) for approximately half an hour before the auto shutdown occurred. The best solution, they said, was to replace the mother board entirely. It would cost a couple of thousands (local currency) and have a six month guarantee. The hard drive would also be replaced, of course. Mind you, this was an iMac that had lasted me a mere 4-5 years (as opposed to my first iMac that’s going on 12 years and is still working, mainly as a jukebox). the cost of replacing the hard drive and mother-board was just over half of buying a new one of the similar range, with no guarantee that the core problem would be fixed. While I did have backed up data (done a week before the breakdown) on an external drive via Time Machine, I couldn’t extract any of that through my MacBook, which also had it’s own Time Machine back-up drive.
The ultimate choice was… I scrapped that iMac. The Service Centre offered to help with the process, saying they would ship the unit off for disposal at no extra charge (which they would have billed otherwise). The MacBook is now my sole computing device.
About a week later, OS Mavericks was released and I dutifully upgraded (it was a two generation jump where the OS was concerned). I doubt the MacBook can handle the next upgrade, since they don’t make these MacBooks anymore and is considered obsolete already (it’s almost three years old now). Of course, upgrading also meant saying good-bye to Photoshop 7 that didn’t run on Mavericks. It didn’t run on Mountain Lion (the previous OS) either, which was what the iMac desktop was using. So, whatever files I had on the cover designs, that were done with photoshop, now needed new software and I really couldn’t afford the new Photoshop software. GIMP was introduced to me, so that’s what I’ve got now. Similar tools, whole different way of using and it really took a while to get used to the interface. I still can’t figure how to create plain simple straight single-pixel lines.
That being said, I ended creating the title logo by creating solid blocks and then systematically deleting portions of the block to create the shapes of the letters. The utter opposite of what I would have done in photoshop. Anyway, it was a crazy learning curve, which is still curving in various directions. The GIMP was being a touch difficult to tame.
Still, got the logo done. Some new drawings were done and coloured, and the initial cover design was recreated with the new software, using the new logo and scans. In colouring the new drawings, i went a little more old-school, digging out some plain old watercolours as well as watercolour colour-pencils. Under Steadler, they were called Aquarelle. Faber-Castell just called them Watercolour Pencils. They could be used like normal colour pencils, but add water and they look like watercolour. I did mention before about my preference for paper and pencil / pen.
I finalised down to two character images, both featuring Syndi-Jean, of course. One showed her face, the other didn’t, There is the idea that if I don’t detail the face, then the reader, looking at the image, would identify more with the character, filling in his or her own idea of how the character would look to them. The alternative is my own representation of how she looks, not that I can show her eyes are green. That glow behind her was supposed to be a manifestation of the abilities not that it was actually described within the text. The faceless version was coloured with plain watercolour. In both cases, it’s the green t-shirt and blue jeans, although the jacket design and colour varied. Still… it was best to keep her features a little simple and not too detailed. It’s not like I had to create a whole portrait of her facial features. It’s a comic book thing.
Both designs work but for varied reasons, in my opinion. And this is just to share, but I wouldn’t mind hearing your opinion, which cover you’d prefer. It’s just a bit more to go on the cover, keeping it plain and simple. It’ll get done before Christmas for sure. I’ve procrastinated long enough.