I’ve been working on what I think is my first really cowboy-western book cover design: Beyond the Crazy Mountains by Charles Hackenberry.
I was stuck for awhile, because the author has a really specific idea for what he wants on the cover design:
Three figures on horseback in front of this: the lead
figure (who looks like a cross between Brad Pitt and
a younger Jeff Bridges) is looking back at the second
figure, so we see him nearly full face. The second
figure is a woman with long blonde hair, mens’ garb,
looking straight ahead, so we see her in profile. The
third figure, a little ways back, looks like a cross
between Ernest Borgnine and Chevy Chase. Figure three is
looking toward the other two figures in front of him.
All figures are riding toward the left.
I dutifully spent a couple weeks trying to find the perfect images to make this happen, but ultimately gave up.
Even if I had found the right faces, in the right poses, and clothes, I would have had to cut and paste them together, strip out the background, and try to fix all the lighting (nearly impossible if the lights in the originals were coming from different angles.)
I hate saying “no, this can’t be done”, and I actually got surprisingly close with a few of these, but this is probably one of the times I should have stressed that a simple, emotive cover is stronger and more powerful than a busy cover that accurately portrays the author’s view of his characters.
Still, although these are very rough samples, we should be able to clean one of these up into a winning book cover design.