I'm a Fudging Vampire! Cover Reveal

Get The Behind The Scenes Cover Art Process

I'm a Fudging Vampire! Cover Reveal banner
By Dustin Tigner
Art
Too Long; Didn't Read

Just want to see the final cover? Click here to jump to it!

What is up with these long titles!

Sarah’s book—AKA . . . I’m a Fudging Vampire! Does That Mean I Sparkle?—is coming by the end of July (It’s out now!). This 480-page standalone GameLit adventure, following Sarah, the first vampire of Olindale, will be a newsletter-exclusive book (yes, free!) until November 30th.

Not signed up? Click here!

With that out of the way, let’s check out the art. :)

The Creative Process

Given my abysmal lack of painting skills—I’m working on it!—the way I “paint” is by combining the paintings from others. This is called photobashing. I just happen to use paintings instead of photos.

The artist I use most is Tithi Luadthong, AKA Grandfailure on Deposit Photos, an artist from Thailand. My collection of his work is always growing, currently at 803 paintings. All of my covers (except for A Shadow in the Darkness) are photobashed from his licensed paintings.

The Messy Canvas . . .

Sometimes, you just have to throw a whole bunch of ideas at the canvas and see what sticks. Since I’m photobashing my covers—or maybe paintbashing, because I use paintings—I’m limited to the images I have.

I use this really awesome app called Eagle (affiliate link) to organize thousands of images. I can easily tag them, rate them, write notes, and even filter images by color. The color doesn’t matter a lot since I can change it in Photoshop, but it helps when trying to find a specific image.

Challenger Sarah's first cover progress shot, the title reads I'm a F*cking Vampire! Does that mean I sparkle?
Yes, the original cover used F*cking instead of Fudging. I’m transitioning my covers away from swearwords because 38% of you who responded to my survey said you prefer no swearwords on the cover. And I agree. Fudging fits better with Sarah.

The Mess Gets Messier

Before chucking digital paint on the canvas, I scribble terrible-looking cover ideas onto index cards. Unfortunately, this doesn’t often yield anything usable. Again, I’m limited by the image assets I collect.

The only index-card idea that survived was having Sarah stand with her back to the viewer, holding her totally awesome scythe.

Challenger Sarah's second cover attempt. It messier than the first.
I swapped out the font to better fit the feel I was going for, tried out a few more ideas, and found Sarah some better-looking hair.

Release the Creative Chaos!

At this point, you’re like, “What’s happening!”

The goal of any cover is to communicate with your ideal audience. A non-sexified version of Sarah holding a crazy scythe communicates that this is a female protagonist story in a fantasy world (and not HaremLit).

Hopefully, the GameLit genre tag conveys that not only is this a fantasy world, it’s a fantasy world with game mechanics. And, with any luck, the big, bold vampire logo will clue people into her being a vampire since that’s kind of hard to show from behind. . . .

Challenger Sarah's third cover attempt. The first version of Sarah's cover
Most of the progress in this shot is in relation to Sarah, our focal point. I’m still throwing random ideas at the canvas to see what works while cleaning up other ideas.

Final Cover

So . . . a few steps were skipped. Sorry. ><

Once I had a good idea of what I wanted—and the assets to make it work—it’s all about cleaning up the idea. It’s vital for the cover to catch readers' attention in its thumbnail view. That’s hard to do with a whole bunch of competing ideas.

The font I was using didn’t have an apostrophe in I’m. I know, weird. I had to draw that in. I also drew the question mark to make it look more like a question mark. I probably could rough it up a bit more.

Oh! And I painted that arm! The one that’s holding the scythe.

Comedy GameLit cover for I'm a Fudging Vampire! Does that mean I sparkle?
Noice! I think this turned out quite well and, unlike most authors, didn’t cost me hundreds or thousands of dollars, which definitely helps make doing this full-time possible.

Photobash Assets

It’s time to look at the original paintings I used to create my cover.

Any of this look familiar? The top left painting is by Mo_Ali, an artist from Egypt. The rest are Grandfailure’s paintings. I used 11 paintings, down from 30.

The second from the top on the left (green science fiction) was used for the main background. And the bottom right painting is what gave me the composition for the entire piece.

Can you find the red skull on the cover? I used that painting 3.5 times. ;)

The first version of Sarah's cover
I skim through hundreds of paintings, searching for the right ones I can use. Sometimes, I feel my limitations with art—limitations imposed by photobashing and a lack of painting skill—are what brings about such fun covers.

And that’s a wrap, folks! I hope you enjoyed seeing how I approach designing a cover. I’ll see about sharing my process with other covers I’ve made, specifically the Dungeon Runner covers. :)