Cover Art Using Paint Programs

A few weeks ago I posted about some cover art I was working on for my "in progress" series "The Dragon and the Scholar" (hopefully available in ebook and trade paperback sometime next year). You can refresh your memory here.

I had done this picture in watercolor and sharpie and while I liked the general look of it I felt the colors could use some tweaking. 

Unfortunately, the digital photo I took of it was not high  enough resolution for use, so I decided to scan it. 

Unfortunately, the nice "orange-red" background that I made turned "pink-red" when hit with the backlight from my scanner. This is what it looked like at that point.

I was not happy with the pink, plus the uneven lines from my sharpie work were very visible. 

So my first order of business was to smooth out the black sections. 

For those of us who are artistically challenged, the basic Paint program that comes with most PCs is a godsend. It has a decent amount of tools, a readily available "undo" feature, and you can edit your work easily and risk free because you aren't actually altering the original piece so if you mess up, just rescan and start again. 

You can also zoom in to work on "tight" areas that need a little more detail then zoom out and choose a larger "brush" when coloring big sections. There are "line" tools to help you make straight lines. Eyedroppers to pick up colors, a color editor you can use to select or "create" a new color, and did I mention you can use "undo" whenever you really mess up?

So here is my darkened dragon:

Next step, that pesky pink background.

At first I tried to just lightly use the airbrush tool to spritz an orange color over the pink. You couldn't really tell I had made any changes. So then I used the color editor to make a red-orange I liked and started using the large brush (oil brush) tool to color it in.

It started to look pretty good, if I do say so myself. When I was dealing with the tricky areas, around the castle and face of the dragon, where I wanted to be careful to retain my shapes, I zoomed in and switched to a smaller brush setting (calligraphy brush was good for these sections).

 Finally he was done!

During my struggle a friend offered to use their skills to make me something with a similar design but perhaps a more professional look, and I told them to go for it, so I may not actually use this art for my final design, but I am still very fond of it and think it captures the spirit of my novel, Dragon's Curse, quite well. 

As always, please check out my current self-published novel on Amazon. You can also follow my "author" page on Facebook for more updates on self-publishing and writing in general.