Monday, September 5, 2011

Meet the new Rae!

This is just a fun little side post to show you guys I’m not completely slacking off while Masks is running on Pocket Coyote. Because Masks is my private project unless a publisher comes along and offers to do business with me, I’m working on using my day-job skills as an editor to put it together as a real live book and ebook. To that end, I’m going to have to do something I’ve never done before—design and shoot a cover. Now, technically I have used photo covers before on projects for clients, but I’ve never shot the photos myself. I’ve always had photographically inclined friends and colleagues to do it. Well, no one’s available and/or up for this one, so it’s DIY time. How hard can it be? (I know, I know, famous last words …)

Now, because this cover will be both the paperback cover and the ebook cover, it’s going to have to be an image that looks great as a postage stamp, because that’s the size of the thumbnail image most people will be seeing online. As I’m working on getting Masks optimized for smartphones, tablets, e-readers, etc., I have to make sure the eventual ebook will look attractive on them. And the ebook cover has to match the paperback cover to avoid unnecessary confusion, so I need a clear, simple, striking image to represent Masks to the world.

Naturally, then, I’ve set myself a completely insane task. I want to make a photographic version of my Comic-Con bookmark:

I’m fairly confident that I can actually sew a Peregrine costume. I’ve made more complicated garments before this, and the outfit is supposed to look like the work of an amateur seamstress. Plus I’ll be shooting it in low light, so I’ve got a lot of wiggle room. More importantly, though, I can’t just shoot an empty costume. I need someone to wear it!

Enter Johanna.

My previous model, the lovely Carolyn, is super insanely busy between work, finishing school, and getting engaged (mazel tov, by the way!). Also, the changes between the current version of Masks and the previous draft require Rae to have a slightly different figure. Remember Rae complaining about the “artist’s conception” where she was six feet tall and obviously a guy? I decided that this time around, Rae was going to be a little less well-endowed, both because it got me around the everyone-stare-at-the-girl-superhero problem and because it would give her something to be a bit insecure about—and this draft demanded insecurity. So I needed a slightly more boyish Rae, and Carolyn’s friend Johanna was handy. It didn’t hurt that she had long hair, which Rae also acquired in this draft. (Please note: unlike Rae, Johanna is not at all insecure. This is probably because she’s brilliant, gorgeous, and a skilled martial artist who can deliver a vicious beating to anyone who tries to make her feel insecure. You have been warned!)

I know, I know—she’s blond! Suspend your disbelief for a while, okay? I can do amazing things with Photoshop. Well, actually, I can do amazing things with GIMP, because I can’t afford a copy of Photoshop. Although I do find it funny that her coloration is much closer to Trevor’s than to Rae’s. But because the Peregrine costume covers most of the body except for the upper part of the face, build was more important than coloration, and both were more important than facial structure.

Anyhoo, Johanna is an experienced martial artist and an avid cosplayer, which should make the photo shoot go quite well. We took these test shots in a local park so I could, if necessary, use them as reference for Nicole’s art. Nicole eventually went with a less photorealistic look for the weekly illustrations (she can produce them faster this way), but the photos are neat anyway, and give you a glance of the un-GIMPed Johanna as she appears before I work my costuming and photographic magic.

I’m only sorry we didn’t have a convenient rooftop to shoot on …

Oh, and come back tomorrow for an interview with Christine Johnson, author of Claire de Lune and the newly released Nocturne!

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