Behind the Design of Bring Her Home

Okay, so it’s been approximately forever since I took the time to create a behind-the-scenes post about one of the book covers I’ve done…even though I still get requests for them…and even though the response has always been pretty amazing. Why? Because they take time, and that’s something I haven’t had much of in recent years, LOL.

But I’m taking the time now. Yep, that’s right. I’m doing another Behind the Design post, taking you step-by-step through the cover design process of Bring Her Home by Hannah Currie, which will be releasing this October from WhiteCrown Publishing. I thought it would a fun way to highlight not only this AMAZING book, and the fun cover, but also to share a bit more about WhiteCrown, now that the website is up and we’re getting some products in the shop.

Have you perked up? Do you love royal fiction? Stories of princesses and princes and knights, kings and queens and courtiers? I know I do–and it’s not just because of the beautiful gowns and sparkly things (although I admit it–I love the beautiful gowns and sparkly things!). It’s also because stories of royalty always remind me that we are the beloved daughters of the King of kings. We are always on display in the eyes of the world, our every move watched. We are never not responsible for the kingdom. And while sometimes that’s overwhelming, it also calls us to remember in every moment Whose we are, and so who we are. It ought to remind us always to be as noble and righteous and just and selfless as a heavenly princess ought to be.

So first–go check out the pretty new WhiteCrown website!!! Some of the features are still in progress, but you’ll at least get a glimpse of what will be there this fall as our titles begin releasing. There are going to be free short fiction, full-length books you can purchase, tours through our settings, reviews of royal books and movies and television, and a shop that will carry not only OUR titles, but other royal fiction and also royal items–everything from tiaras to blankets to jewelry boxes to tie-in items for our books!

Okay! So for our launching title, we definitely needed a cover that was pretty iconic “princess story!” right? Flowy gown, castle, the works. We needed royalty to be front and center. So with that in mind, I turned to author Hannah Currie’s cover questionnaire to see what she had in mind and then got down to business. =)

Bring Her Home is the first book in a series, which had originally been titled Raedonleith Parables. We decided first and foremost to go with a series name that conveyed the royal theme too, so changed that to Crown of Promise (our favorites of Hannah’s brainstorming!).

We wanted to make sure we had a different look from her first series, but that they still looked great together. Here are the three books in her first series.

The Daughters of Peverell novels are all contemporary princess stories, with a fictional setting, the kingdom of Peverell. I had SO MUCH FUN designing those “pretty dress” covers with her three heroines, taking a styling cue from the ever-popular Selection stories.

This new series is set in a fictional kingdom as well, but is historical–no particular date, just a general “medieval” feel, much like some of Jody Hedlund’s princess tales. So if you’re fans of Jody’s, you are going to LOVE Hannah’s books too! They’re fabulous!

But I digress. 😉

Back to design. One of the first things I actually did was figure out what I wanted to do for the series banner. As you can see in the image for her first series, we used a ribbon marker for that; I decided to something similar for this series, but to use a horizontal ribbon instead of a vertical one.

So that was a start…but not exactly a cover, LOL. Then it was time to move on to the fun stuff!

Hannah had a pretty good idea of what she wanted for this series: the heroine from behind, a red dress for this first cover, white butterflies somewhere on the cover, the castle in the background. I decided to start with the heroine…and the dress.

In scrolling through red medieval gowns, I decided I really loved the flow of this one.

But there are some obvious problems here, right? First and foremost, the dress is translucent and her legs are fully visible. Not exactly appropriate for a medieval maiden. 😉 But no worries! I was able to use the flow of that dress, but combine it with the opacity of the skirt from this one.

The result isn’t exactly perfect, but by flipping them to face the same direction and lining them up correctly, we begin to see a rough figure taking shape. In this, I’ve just taken off the head (just call me the executioner) and put the more solid skirt underneath the flowy one.

I was liking the shape and structure, but clearly this isn’t quite right–given how translucent that flowy dress is, the original image allowed us to see through to the lighter ground beneath…that doesn’t exactly work here, and the shades aren’t the same either. To solve both problems at once, I actually just applied a color layer to the them both. Abra cadabra!

Better. =) Now it was time to reattach her head. 😉 I found an image of a long braid that I liked…a Rapunzel style image, actually. The hair here was blond, which wasn’t right–our heroine is a redhead–and it was WAY too long, but it was a start!

I copied the head/hair onto the dress image and tinted it as much as I could just through the Hue/Saturation options. That got me pretty close.

Close…but sloppy and indistinct. After playing a bit more with Curves and Levels (Photoshop tools that allow you to adjust brightness and shadow), I then actually went in by hand and, with a 1 pixel brush, added in wisps and more colors, to get us to this.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that this version is just on a gray background. Brilliant, right? 😉 Obviously not what I meant to stay with. In fact, I’d originally chosen a very fairy-tale style castle, with bright green grass and a blue sky, thinking it would contrast well with the red. In this version, you’re seeing it with the original banner, white with the old series title.

Bright, huh? And cheerful. I continued the fanciful idea with a flowy script font and then a white butterfly bokeh.

Yeah, um…cue the author suddenly not sure she wanted a flowing dress or a castle or anything else, LOL. In other words, I had nailed the WRONG FEEL. Whoops! After a weekend of poor Hannah throwing a million other ideas at me and me being like, “But the dress is not negotiable!” I finally realized that it wasn’t the dress or model that was the problem. It was that bright and sunny background.

Okay. Easy to fix. I quite simply deleted that background and choose a moodier one, with a sunset and a storm on the horizon, and a more utilitarian medieval castle.

Suddenly Hannah liked the dress again. 😉

That mood is MUUUUUUUCH more suited to the story, so we all breathed a big sigh of relief. Then it was just a matter of finishing it!

Hannah had also requested an easier to read font, and though I love that script (in fact, I used it for my “Blessed Is She Who Believed” line of products!), I could certainly see her point. So we went instead with an ornate serif font.

This one is called Berold, and it has a ton of great alternates and ligatures to really customize the look.

Only one small item remained–those white butterflies! I knew I wanted to put them in her hair (Hannah’s suggestion!), and I decided to make one interact with the title too. So here we go! The final cover, with a butterfly on the B and two in her hair.

And now, I bet you actually want to know what this book is about, right?? Here’s the back cover copy!

Since the morning he woke to find his precious daughter gone with only the remains of their latest argument left behind, King Lior has been praying she’d come home. For four years now, he’s prayed and searched, sending his best knights to find Evangeline, only to hear nothing. Until the day their missive arrives with three words: we’ve found her. He sends one right back with orders to bring her home.

But that order isn’t easily achieved. Evangeline, now a lowly servant, has no plans to return. Though the knights claim her father still loves her, she knows the truth: he’d cast her aside as quickly as everyone else if he knew how far she’d truly fallen. She can’t go home. Not with her scars. Or her failures. Or her son.

Only, the knights won’t leave without her. And just as she starts to wonder if maybe they might be right, the choice is taken from her altogether.

Sir Darrek thought the hardest part of his quest would be finding Evangeline. He had no idea how difficult it would be to get her home.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour through the cover design process of Bring Her Home by Hannah Currie! And I also hope that you’re as excited as I am both for the book and for WhiteCrown! Do hop over to our lovely new website, and be sure to sign up for our newsletter! It’s going to be full of SO MUCH FUN STUFF here in the next month or two, as we get it rolled out!!

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