But why can't we get accurate covers? Well, it's darn hard. BUT there is a way And today I'm going to show you how and why.
I made up a very simple but pretty reasonably authentic historical cover for a non-existent novel called LET HONOR PREVAIL. Then I'm going to show you its original parts and how they were altered.
Let's face it, there was nobody running around in 1812 with a camera taking lots of pictures for me to use in the 21st century. There were fshion plates and scenic engravings and the like. But they don't necesarily fit with today's tastes, especially romantic tastes.You can probably tell the model's face, despite my cartooning of it, still looks a bit too real for the rest. I'd have to work on that. (Several hours' worth. Remember that-time is money.) Because that's a high quality photo of a real man, and the rest is low quality images of early 19th century engravings.
First, I need a handsome contemporary model. Gorgeous guy, and I've used him several times (in an artistic sense) because he's so versatile. But this time all I need is his head, and need to reverse that as well: But it is important to try to line up the posture of both the contemporary model and the "clothes you intend to fit on him if you want to make it look like he's really wearing the garments.
Now I have something about like this:
But what about the background? Well, this one isn't done right, at least not for a print book, because the engraving I have is only a small, poor resolution copy of the original. Oh sure, it's in the public domain so I can use it, but on anything the size of a printed book, it will look too grainy. And not only that, I only took a very tiny part of the whole engraving, which meant it had to be blown up even more. It would likely be much too blurry for a printed cover. I could do things to re-render it, but again, that's really hard, time-consuming work.
So why not just paint a cover? Wouldnt' it be easier? Well, I'm not a painter, but I can assure you even just using Photoshop tools, "just painting" is no small task. And I'm frankly not good at painting anyway. So take photos of models in costume? Okay, but costumes are made of modern materials and so far I have seen very few that really emulate
their historical period. They're machine made and dyed in modern colors. Then there are those telltale zippers and elastic. The models --sorry, they're often gorgeous. But show me even one model who is willing to appear in a shoot without her makeup. Even the men come combed and curled and almost air-brushed before the session begins. And their hair is always wrong. Repainting hair? Well mostly I give up and let them have their makeup and modern hairstyles. Just try painting out makeup. It's sure not a matter of washing the face!
And remember that little bit about time being money? Well it is. Someone has to pay those models and photographers and arrange the setting. Now you're up into the hundreds of dollars brackets. Not too many authors want to pay that. They can, of course, and that's all right with me. But most of us have tighter budgets.
Some historical covers require even more than the simple techniques I've shown above. Someday I'll tell you all about morphing or warping clothes to fit the modern figure. That's actually fun. Kind of like dressing Barbie dolls.