By: Charles Marlin
Link: View book details at Amazon
Cover and eBook conversion, 2013. The cover is derived from an old botanical block print, with title and author text in a graceful calligraphic font. The book includes eight large botanical illustrations derived from old public-domain book pages collected by the author.
The illustrations were isolated, cropped or sized to be no larger than 600px wide or 800px tall. (For iPad, a max-height of 860px can be used.) Images with a lot of horizontal white-space were trimmed to a width of 520px. Each image was minimally tweaked to remove blemishes, retain detail, and enhance color if badly faded.
In this novel, the main character is Root, aka Rupert Peachtree, a n’er do well who finds a new career in the county jail as an oracle. His first act as a wise man is to rename himself Problem Solver. His former cellmate (and only client) and his wife become his new parents. Their encouragement blossoms into Quince Healing for mind and body. Happy clients multiply, and other practitioners come to him for professional guidance. When the Problem Solver falls in love with a young widow who has three small children, he lacks the courage to ask her to marry him in spite of his success in solving others’ problems.
The original block print, shown at left, had jotted notes on the side and extensive bleed-through from the verso page. Cleaning it up for use as a cover with an unblemished background finally transformed me from a casual to competent user of Photoshop’s Pen tool. We sampled several background colors and subtle textures and settled on a solid lively yellow that had the most “pop.” The dynamic range of colors in the faded drawing was enhanced very slightly for more depth.
To isolate the drawing, I outlined small shapes with the Pen tool and made them selections in order to mask out surrounding areas. After a nearly-perfect mask was in place, I added a 1-pixel red stroke to the drawing. Doing this makes rough areas and stray pixels stand out like a sore thumb for easy clean-up with a tiny black brush on the layer mask.
Here is a before and after segment of the drawing after isolating and cleaning up with the Pen tool, with the stroke outline visible: