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Also, can I just say how much I love these cover threads. So interesting to read the advice and opinions. I've been TRYING to design my own cover for my first book (a thriller) that I'll be putting out soon and it's really difficult. I'm really enjoying myself doing it but it's tough, and I have a lot of respect for the people who do it for a living.
 

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Discussion Starter #22
CassieL said:
I scrolled down from the top so only saw the bright green leaves at the very first and immediately thought "yeah, not a thriller" to your question. Look at how much darker and more broody the other covers are compared to yours. Also, two of the ones you posted involve sunset images. There's a hint that something dark is happening or an ending is approaching.
Hi Cassie. Thanks. Will post new version soon.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
K'Sennia Visitor said:
I make really awful self-published covers.

Your cover looks self-published, too.

The others look professional.

I don't know what the difference is. Part of it might be fonts. Maybe the quality of the image. A direct photograph vs whatever those other covers are using. I think you're probably on the right track, and with a little photoshopping tweaks, and the right fonts, it would probably be fine.

But I've got no clue how to accomplish those other things.

ETA: Ooh, Cassie makes great points. See, if you can't make it darker somehow, or merge a sunset photo into it, maybe.
Thanks Visitor
 

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Discussion Starter #24
Paranormal Kitty said:
You're on the right track with typography, but the image looks like one of those novels where the grandmother is telling the whole story in flashback to her granddaughter.
Thanks Kitty. Yeah, thanks to everybody helping here I'm toughening it up. No grandmas! Will post new version.
 

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Discussion Starter #25
LauraWestbrook said:
The professionally made ones are not only darker, they're also extra dark around the edges, giving it a shadowed look. That's how those scenery scenes work for a thriller cover.

Also the height and spacing of the font indicates the genre.

In short, there are so many subtle clues and hints that tell a reader what the genre is that most of us look over consciously, but we all know subconsciously what they mean.
Thanks Laura. That's very insightful. I've darkened the edges and increased the font size. Will post a new version.
 

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Discussion Starter #26
Gareth K Pengelly said:
Two minutes in photoshop, adjusting your cover's brightness and contrast, and adding a little darkening about the edges. Super rush job, and I'm two beers in, could certainly neaten it up, too much black about the top, for example, and the green of the leaves is showing through the burn tool on the left, but it gives you an idea.

Just adds a little moodiness to it that it's missing in the first image.

Gareth. Thanks buddy. Your version definitely is pointing me in the right direction. Will post a new one soon.
 

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Discussion Starter #27
ShayneRutherford said:
Since the top two covers were ones I did, I'll comment on this. There are a couple of things that make an image go from peaceful scenery to thriller cover. One is the font. Tall, thin, bold fonts are a signal that the book is a suspense or a thriller. The second is the grunge overlays applied to the image. A little bit of grunge can signal that things are about to get a bit dark. But you don't want too much, because that's generally a signal that the book is really dark, or straight-up horror. Another thing is the vignette to darken up the edges, although that's not really just a suspense/thriller thing, that's just generally a professional designer thing, to help give the cover a more finished look. And there's also the color palette. Color theory is not just for art class. A good designer knows how to use color to help signal genre. For suspense and thrillers you want bold colors and good contrast. With the top three, they all used good color contrast and thrillery colors. The Matthew Rief cover isn't using thrillery colors so much, but the red water is a good signal that things are about to get dark.

Gregg, the font you're using is a middle-of-the-road kind of font. It doesn't really signal any particular genre strongly on its own. It's not bad, but if you want to signal thriller more strongly with your typography, I would suggest looking at Steelfish, which is a free font. I think you can find it on FontSquirrel.com.
Thanks Shayne!

Since the top two covers were ones I did
Small world, huh? Plus at least I had good taste picking out your covers.

Your tips really helped. And getting the new font was huge. Thanks so much! I'm going to post a new version soon.
 

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Discussion Starter #28
alcyone said:
I don't write thrillers. I like to read them, though.

The four covers you linked to make me think of the subgenre of books I call "Florida as paradise subverted." We often think of Florida and the southeast as a vacation paradise -- beaches, and cocktails, and sailboats, and clear water, and nice weather -- but these thrillers subvert that assumption by setting dangerous action and crimes there among paradise. In others: I expect the book to feature a pretty setting, with danger afoot.

Beyond the fonts, these images work for me specifically because:

#1 - Definitely gives me a vibe of paradise lost, right down to the title. There's heavy vignetting around the corners which gives an otherwise pretty photo a dark vibe. Too, the wooden staircase leading away and dropping off abruptly to the water hint at danger.
#2 - The gathering dark clouds hint at danger and trouble. The orange font adds danger and energy, as does the boat rushing away.
#3 - This is a very moody cover. I would suspect this story involves a suspicious death at sea. The red sunset hints at blood and danger.
#4 - A moody and broody sunset; the water is blood red, hinting at danger, death, probably a murder.
Thanks Alcyone. Good analysis. And yeah, there's something to that southeast Florida/Caribbean genre.
 

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Discussion Starter #29
jvin248 said:
.

"Lost Key" is the best example and the benchmark you should aim for.

Top and bottom Fades are used from black to transparent. In Gimp.org this is the "gradient tool" from black to transparent.
Looks like a beast's mouth is closing on the observer -- "can you escape?" kind of feeling.
(My thumbnail "Zombie Tattoo" story uses thinner black fades, the two books on the left use white gradient fades from the top down)

Tall skinny title font. Sans-serif and bold -- genre style.
Quite well done font shadows.

Horizontal stretched author font that is a different font style too.

Match the vertical spacing of your 'cave opening' and the title font of the benchmark book. See how all the text lines are balanced across the vertical scale. The center of the benchmark brightness is just under the title, directing anyone looking at the cover to read the title.

Experiment with your 'cave opening' slightly off-center or even the whole image off-kilter (ten to twenty degrees) as if reality is warping or the protagonist escaped on foot catching them running.

You probably don't need 'a novel' after you adjust the other elements.

A great exercise would be to put the "Lost Key" image on the background layer of your software program and then add layers of your own content slowly covering up but copying as close as you can everything that they did. Then when you have your 'perfect thematic copy' you will have learned how and why you want to change your image features to reflect your story elements or imagery.

I'm not sure the software you are using, does it have all the features like gradients? You may want to upgrade to Gimp.org for deeper edits. It's free software, many fonts are available to plug in (for your future covers), and many youtube tutorials exist for anything you may want to do. Some kboards top selling authors use Gimp to make their covers.
.
Thanks jvin. Really good suggestions. (I was happy to get rid of "A NOVEL.") Plus I really like the template idea for future books. I'm going to post a new version soon.
 

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Discussion Starter #30
Michael Parnell said:
I'm not a cover designer, but like others I "know it when I see it," and when I look at kboarder Wayne Stinnett's Caribbean Adventure and Caribbean Thriller covers I can see all the design elements and techniques mentioned by others in this thread. Take a look at his covers; they're thrillers, with settings similar to yours, and they may be good examples for you.
Thanks Michael. Yeah, Wayne's covers are great. So simple and yet powerful.
 

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Discussion Starter #31
ImaWriter said:
As I mentioned in one of the other many threads about this, you need to convey atmosphere. As others have said here, that can be done with color.

As is, your image says floating down the river in an inner tube.



Even without the alligator, this sets a much darker mood, just by making it darker.
Thanks ImaWriter. I've really darkened it up. I'll post the new version soon. Thanks for the mockup too.
 

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Discussion Starter #33
Decon said:
No, it doesn't work as a professional thriller cover.

You have a cover designer in Shayne who has explained it. Others have altered your image, especially the first one to make it more genre specific. Even that could do with a little more depth to the dark shading top and bottom. Then all it needs is a better font for the title.

Good luck in coming to a decision.

Edited: several sentences removed. Drop me a PM if you have any questions. - Becca
Thanks Declan. Well, I've done all that. Hopefully it's better. I'll post the new version soon.
 

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Discussion Starter #34
wearywanderer64 said:
How about a snake instead of a crocodile? Do they have big snakes there? Crocodile=danger. A snake=danger/backstabbing/betrayal/sneakiness.
Thanks for the suggestion, wanderer. There is a huge python snake attack in the story. But I'll see if I can make it without it first.
 

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Discussion Starter #35
Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books] said:
I really think you need a figure, silhouette, partial person, etc. on your cover. Here's another link that might give you some ideas.

While the covers above could be thrillers, I'd guess most of them are some kind of mystery. Thrillers usually show the possibility of immediate danger to a person rather than a scene without people. Again, I'm no expert...just my two cents.

https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=bestseller%20thriller%20novel%20covers&qs=n&form=QBIR&sp=-1&pq=bestseller%20thriller%20novel%20covers&sc=0-32&cvid=0BBFC21015BA442DA806A3AC8AAE26C0&first=1&scenario=ImageHoverTitle
Thanks Lorri. I thought about using a figure. I don't know, hopefully this new version works without it.
 

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Discussion Starter #36
alhawke said:
I like ImaWriter's coloring. Change the alligator to soldiers wearing camouflage and carrying rifles rising out of the water?
Thanks A.L. I just darkened it and took some of the other suggestions. I hope with those changes it works without changing things.
 

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Discussion Starter #37
EleanorRigby said:
I'm no expert on covers but the images in those others look better quality, with better typography. Also, there are certain elements that make them more thriller-ish, like the broken dock, the moody, ominous lighting etc.
Thanks Eleanor. Undoubtedly those covers are better. But with all the tips I think I've improved mine anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter #38
You guys, you've given me a thriller cover design tutorial. Thanks so much! I don't know if the cover is there yet (or ever will be) but I certainly think it's way better than it was. Thanks again!

The old:



The new:

 

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Gregg Bell said:
You guys, you've given me a thriller cover design tutorial. Thanks so much! I don't know if the cover is there yet (or ever will be) but I certainly think it's way better than it was. Thanks again!

The old:



The new:

Oh, this is a marked improvement.

I think if you can incorporate some of what Gareth did with the contrast adjustments to the central image, that will work well with the new font and the black around the edges.

I don't know if I would go as far as imawriter did with the color changes, but a very slight tinted overlay would also help pull it all together.
 
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