Lyn Taylor is the cover artist for my next White Tigers release, Men of Tokyo: Sudden Surrender. She did such a fabulous job on the cover and I marvelled at how she achieved the realistic effect of full body tatoos on a man who doesn’t have any tatoos. Well, a fellow author, Anika Hamilton (I’ll tell you more about her on a later post) read on Lyn Taylor’s blog the whole process of how she made my book cover. It’s really fascinating and almost did her in. lol. I’m glad she stuck with it because the effect is fabulous. I glommed her post about it so you could read the amazing process by which she made this cover.
This is the first cover I have done of this series and damn if it wasn’t a tricky one LOL! I honestly thought that body tattoo was going to be the end of me as a cover artist. Seriously!
Anyway, because I’m pretty chuffed with how it turned out, I thought I’d share with you how I managed to pull it together.
First things first. I needed to find the characters. In all honesty there’s not a lot of Asian/Oriental guys available out there. Well. I don’t think chubby business man is quite in the ‘Erotic Cover’ league, but someone might yet surprise me.
Anyway, so I managed to find some nice bods. The guy on the left worked perfectly for the Character he was to portray. The Guy in the middle though, looked like he’d sucked on a lemon so I decided to lop off his head and give him a new one. Oh, if only it were so easy in real life, eh?
The original head I chose was a bit too ‘cranky’ so we went for the guy on the right. Sweet!
Okay, so now with lots of cutting and pasting of heads we have our two characters ready to go. Now for the hard bit.
The character over on the right called for a full body Yakuza tattoo – white tigers and cherry blossoms. O.M.G.!
Now I’m pretty adept these days at adding a tattoo here and there and getting them to look relatively natural. BUT a whole body tattoo??So the search began. Firstly I trawled through the stock sites. There were a few things I could have thrown together but in all honesty the amount of stock required would have killed me. However, in my searches I managed to stumble across this image on the right.
It had the tiger AND the blossoms. Bingo!
Unfortunately the tiger was yellow, but thanks to the desaturate tool I was able to leach out the colour and produce a white tiger. Next, it was obvious that this image was not going to fit on the big guy’s body without looking a bit odd. Plus the larger I stretched the image, the poorer the quality became. So I was going to have to keep my images small.What I ended up doing was creating a new document and copying and pasting parts of the image around the tiger, gradually expanding outwards. I’d blend the edges of the image so there was no obvious seam by erasing with a large, soft brush.
This gave me a broader canvas to work with. Also ensuring that I would not notice the edges of the cut & pastes in amongst all that busy background.
So back to the big guy. Using the expanded tattoo design, I enlarged it enough to cover his chest. I had to dabble with the perspective so that the angles were correct. Then using a displacement map of his torso, I was able to distort the tattoo so it fit to his chest. I worked like this in sections all over his torso, upper & lower arms and shoulders. Cutting and pasting, blending and merging sections of the basic design until I was happy that his body was covered.As you can imagine there were quite a few layers. At least 20 just to cover his torso, arms and shoulders. Once I had him covered I copied those layers and then merged them into one. I changed the layer to Multiply and fiddled with the opacity until it looked more natural. Phew!
My next challenge, but obviously not so difficult was to try to find an image of the Kanji for Suzuki. I did manage to find one but it was of poor quality. So I had to recreate it in a new document. I hope to god it is correct LOL! This was just a ‘normal’ tattoo that needed to go on the background guy.
The hard bit out of the way all I needed to do now was bring the design over from the previous ones of the series. Pop the the guy’s together, blend them in, fiddle with contrasts, shadows, highlights, etc and then go and find myself a nice quite corner to huddle in. LOL!
Of course there was a lot more fiddling involved, but I don’t want to bore you all with the details. This is just to give people the gist of what goes on behind the scenes.