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Vandal Valkyrie

The author says:

A dark fantasy and cosmic horror novel, book 1 in a series. The main characters quest to bring justice to the dread lord of an evil nation. But all of their actions are orchestrated by titanic forces that move in the shadows of history, seeking terrible ends that these mortal pawns cannot begin to imagine or oppose. Synopses: The End of Days has come and gone. Horrors from beyond sanity lay siege to reality. In this world, Alfair and Paemani come of age fighting to build a nation in the perilous North Marshes. Centuries later, their scion the Princess Valkyrie crusades against the Mad Count of Harkenvold. But against the Horrors, the Mad Count may stand as the only true hope. The story follows Alfair, Paemani, and Valkyrie as they seek victories that may imperil creation itself and fight wars that they may desperately need to lose as the North Marshes rises to prominence in an utterly hostile world.

The art is a sketch by Alex Ruiz at used with permission, my role was in colorizing and formatting it as a cover.

Vandal Valkyrie Cover

Vandal Valkyrie Cover

Nathan says:

The art is terrific — sketchy, of course, but still bold and evocative for all that. You made a good choice.

The type… not so much. Problems:

  1. Every time I see the type isolated into a section away from the art, I think, “This art obviously wasn’t commissioned for this cover — it was acquired, and then someone tried to make the type fit.” Which is exactly what happened here, but you don’t WANT it to look that way.  I took a look at the original art to see if you have any more room at the bottom. You do. USE IT. You could place the byline at the top, and the title and series title at the bottom. Or place the title across her midriff (the two focal points are her head, and the head in her hand). But get rid of that pasted-on blue box.
  2. Both fonts you chose are ornate enough to be hard to read.  I think that with “valkyrie” in the title and a warrior woman dominating the illustration, you don’t need the Norse-ness in the title typeface to sell the concept; concentrate on impact and readability instead. The same goes for the series title and byline: the smaller the type is, the clearer it needs to be in order to be read.

Other comments?


  1. The art is great, but I find the separation of art and title—especially with the latter contained in a box relegated to the bottom of the cover—off-putting.

    If there is, indeed, more to the art than we are seeing, then you should take Nathan’s advice and use that extra space to integrate the type into the cover art.

    The title typeface is indeed a little too hard to read, especially at thumbnail size. You can use a decorative face, just a little simpler one. I would not use a decorative face at all for the subtitle or author’s name. Two different decorative typefaces is one too many.

  2. Hello, the cover’s maker here. Does anyone have a recommendation for a text color or colors that would contrast well when over layered directly on the orange and grey of the background art, like has been suggested?

    1. White is going to be the most contrasty, but sometimes simple white can be a bit DIY looking. I tend to go just a smidge off white, and sometimes use a slight gradient to give it some interest. But definitely a drop shadow or dark outer glow will make it stand out.

      1. Yup. I was about to say the same thing. I start with an ivory or milk-colored white (depends on the background color that it’ll be against, for obvious reasons). I then bring the hue up, with whatever color I think might work, and I work my way around the color wheel. For example, I recently had a lot of success with a dash of orange into a creamy white. It popped right off the screen, and made the cover.

        It works remarkably well. I’m a lousy designer, mind you–when I am jammed up with a cover, it means that we have a client whose cover design has gone badly wrong with someone else. So, heeellll, if I can make it work, a real cover designer damn sure can. I am hopeless at drop shadows, glows and the like, so I stay away from them, but those would only enhance a nice off-white with a dash of “sumthin'” in em.

  3. So my absolute first thought when I look at this? D&D manual. That’s not necessarily a criticism since there’s a lot of overlap in those markets. But yeah, while the art is good, it does also scream “generic fantasy picture” to me. Of course, unless you’re up for commissioning custom art, there may not be much you can do about it. (And the words “used with permission” are music to my ears.)

    As for the type treatment, what really stands out to me is that the type feels really clean compared to the messy image, between the cool colors and all the smooth circular shapes.

  4. OOooooo! I started at the top of this one and thought Oooooo, I’m gonna LOVE this one… keep scrolling, keep scrolling, yum, keep scrolling – *tire screeching*, What the HECK? That band at the bottom is completely out of place. The colour story is way off from the image, and the fonts just don’t feel right.

    I agree with text integration comments from others. The trouble with using illustrations is that, unless they are specifically designed for a book cover with the appropriate “white” space for titling, you either have to create your own space, which requires some voodoo and a good bit of skill, or place an opaque box that either obscures something, or hangs out all on it’s own at top or bottom. Neither of which is appealing. It seems like what it is. An afterthought.

    It’s great that you limited the font count to only two, but only one of them should be decorative otherwise they fight each other for attention. I think that’s already been covered… In this case though, choosing a font that has a decorative letter (A) is a little overkill when there are three A’s in the title and none of them are the first letter. My eye is drawn straight to the A’s (This is not generally a problem if the decorative letter is the first letter of the word. You want emphasis there.)

    And finally, the word “by” is almost NEVER used professionally.

    I hope that’s helpful.
    Tamian Wood
    Graphic Designer

  5. I agree with most of what was said above. Love love love the art. Do not love the hard to read text, or the solid blue box it’s sitting in. Also, I thought the synopsis could be cut by about 2/3. There’s too many names and too much plot, and it’s all confusing.

  6. Not much more I can say than has already been said: you’ve got some decent cover art, but that text box at the bottom has got to go. With this kind of fantasy novel, you want your readers to see as much of the cover art as possible. The title and byline are properly placed, however, so I recommend keeping them there at your protagonist’s feet (since your prospective readers aren’t going to care as much about her feet as they do about the rest of her); and as long as you’re keeping them all in one place like that, I recommend sticking with just one font for everything.

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