Between the covers

I refresh my Weaver Cycle book covers using some traditional design tools and a little AI magic supplied by Canva and Stable Diffusion.

Between the covers

I've suddenly freed up a little time after making a few lifestyle changes (more on that in another post). And, feeling like I need a refresh, I've spent a day or two creating a new cover for Cadoc's Contract.

Cover: Cadoc's Contract

I'm pleased with how it turned out, especially given I'm not a designer. I'll admit that I like stylist, texture-heavy fantasy book covers, and they are easier to create than character-based scenes or epic matte paintings by Alan Lee and Geoff Taylor. The latter requires artistic skills I don't possess; the former needs only a basic understanding of colour, layout, layer styles and how to operate raster and vector design apps.

I used a mix of tools to create it: Pixelmator Pro for most of the composition and painting, Affinity Designer for the Text, and a little AI magic provided by Canva. Yes, using AI is perhaps a bit of a cheat, but it means I can create something unique and not rely upon stock images, which can easily be reused in other books. My original cover for Cadoc's Contract, which I commissioned from Polish artist Chris Kudi, used a stock portrait I've seen used in dozens, if not hundreds, of books.

I've updated the ebook across all major retailers, including Amazon Kindle, Kobo, and Apple Books. If you've purchased the book through a retailer, your copy should be refreshed in your account or devices over the next few days. You can also download the DRM version directly if you're a premium Scriptorium member.

Mistress of Skeinhold

Also up for renewal is Mistress of Skeinhold, my (chronologically) second novel in the Weaver Cycle. However, this one's given me a little more trouble to get right. So, I wouldn't mind your help in deciding. I've created three alternative covers using the same tools and techniques (mostly), and I'd like your help picking the right one.

As noted, I prefer stylistic, symbol-based designs to character-based ones, but I've included one here since the novella's title refers to the story's antagonist. It's certainly a striking portrait, which I created using AI. Still, I'm concerned that such an overtly sexualised depiction would alienate readers in our overly sensitive age. That said, my readers know the portrait is appropriate to the character and themes of the story. The Weaver Cycle is a dark fantasy set in a world where magical energy can be harnessed through sex (and blood-letting). I ain't writing for kids!

As a side note, I've had an interesting time exploring AI. It's an interesting and fast-moving technology. There's a lot of hype I've discovered and a lot of opportunity, particularly for creative use. I'm thinking of writing more about AI, partly because I work for a certain tech company embracing it wholeheartedly and partly because I can't afford to ignore it. Let me know if you'd like to see me write on the subject more.

So, I dunno. What do you think? Which do you prefer? Do let me know in the comments, or reply directly if you're reading this post in your email.