When I first created the cover on the left, I fell into the trap of looking for a very specific picture.  Of course, I couldn’t find it.  Or anything else that made me happy, so I ended up with a setting cover. It’s time for an update!

The story took its inspiration from how the distorted shapes a clown wears (such as the feet) can frighten people or make them laugh.  A perfect opportunity for a fantasy story with a monster! 

I originally wanted to put a circus tent on the cover.  But no cover-worthy circus tent images were to be had.  Sure, I could have slapped a photo of a modern tent on it, but that wouldn’t have given me the fantasy feel the cover needed.

I found the one on the right by searching for “woman in the woods.”

First up was opening and resaving my template.  The program is Adobe Photoshop Elements, which is like an average user version of Photoshop.  I’m not sure what the price is now, but I spent about $120 when I got this version a few years ago.

The blue lines are the guides.  The outer ones are to make sure I don’t get too close to the edge. 

The interior lines are for the one-third points.  The one-third points help the cover look balanced.  Most images will come already balanced.  At one point, I was in a FB group where cover artists showed samples of their work.  I was shocked at how many just simply centered a character and ignored this basic rule.

Screen shot of the cover template in Adobe Photoshop Elements

Next up I dragged the image I selected onto the template.  On the left, you can see the layers.  Layers are how you get a magazine cover where the character’s head is in front of the title graphics and yet you can still tell what the title is.

Screen shot of template showing that the image has been added.

I used the sampling tool to get a color from the lantern and use it on my name.  My name also gets moved to the top, flush with the top line, and between the two border lines.

Also that I shifted the image over so the lantern is hitting one of the one-third guides.  Her hand is also pointing down at the corner (so the reader will “turn” the page).

Screen shot showing author name has been added.

Time for the story title.  I usually change the color for that text, but there weren’t any other contrasting colors I could draw on. 

I wanted to make sure the reader could see most of the woman and the lantern, so I put the titles flush left.

Screen shot showing title text added

And it’s done.  These usually take about half an hour to do.  You can find the story at the usual suspects.

A Quartet of Clowns received an honorable mention from Writers of the Future.