Count down to Katharina – or of Swedes and scanners…

The cover art was the first part of the jigsaw that is the release of a new book to be sorted. It took quite a bit of work – on my part to chase down an image of Katharina that could legally be used, and on his to manipulate the images and footer about with colour etc. (I’m not good at envisaging colour without seeing it, so I asked for lots of alternatives, and he was as always, endlessly patient with me.) So here I should give a big cheer for Clifford Hayes http://www.hayesdesign.co.uk – I’m not sure if I’m his most picky client, but I’m probably not his easiest.

And one for Sweden – and the National Museum there, which has been sufficiently enlightened to decide to release digital images of 1000s of artworks in their collection into the public domain. All they ask is appropriate attribution. It took a bit of time trawling through to find that they had a copy of Lucas Cranach the Elder’s 1526 portrait of  Katharina von Bora, but it was a wahoo moment when I did.

Katharina ImageIt wouldn’t have been my first choice – this one would: a portrait held in the Wartburg in Saxony. But the photo I’d taken on my mobile phone, while good enough for use here, wouldn’t quite have hacked it for the book cover – resolution and what-not. And even if it had been, getting permission to use it, while it would have been straightforward enough, certainly wasn’t economic.

I spent several weeks here writing to the Wartburg and various other places which held a similar portrait, requesting the possibility of getting a high-resolution digital image and the permission to use it. The images themselves were very reasonably priced – average 14 Euros, but using them was another matter – think in £100s for a single use, limited print run, more if I wanted bookmarks or business cards, or, or… Net result – how ready was I to sacrifice an arm or a leg? So it was at the end of several weeks of searching that I stumbled over the Nationalmuseum (

So it was at the end of several weeks of searching that I stumbled over the website link to the Nationalmuseum (Stockholm). They hold a version of the same portrait, though the dress isn’t two-coloured – which I rather liked – especially as green is my favourite colour, but, in the circumstances, I could live with that. I also knew I wanted a Wittenberg skyline as the background to the portrait, but that the designer found on the 123RF site, which could be used for a modest fee, so we were all set.

Here is the finished cover – and I’m more than happy with it. Job done? Not quite.

Layout 1

 

This is the first of two books about Katharina and the designer wanted to work on both covers simultaneously, which was going to be a significant saving for me, so a no-brainer. However, that meant there was one more image to track down – a suitable picture of Martin Luther, which in my book (no pun intended) meant one in which he didn’t look too old or severe, or ugly, or…  Fortunately, one of my reference books had a picture of him on the cover that fitted the bill, and, joy of joys, the Museum in Stockholm had it as well.

 

 

But if my part in choosing Martin’s portrait was easy, the designer’s part in using it wasn’t.  The rather attractive portrait shows Martin with his hair curling around his face in fine wisps. Cutting him out of the background of the portrait without either losing some of the hair, or retaining some of the background was going to be challenging.  Finally, after a lot of discussion, we decided to make the background colour of the central section of the second book a version of the background colour of the original portrait. Problem solved. And after two days agonising over a title – always one of my biggest problems, no matter what I’m writing – the cover for Katharina: Fortitude was ready.

 

Screenshot K2

Here’s a sneak preview. This one should be out towards the end of 2018…

There was one other issue that needed to be sorted and this is where the scanner comes in. I needed a map of the important places in Saxony for inside the front of both books. Now, I’ve laways loved drawing maps, so it wasn’t a huge problem to produce the map myself, but getting it into a suitable format in terms of reproduction, resolution etc for print was a different matter. I took about 4 hours and many attempts before I was happy with the map – not the layout, but the little illustrations to go with key places that I’d set my heart on. Wittenberg wasn’t a problem, a wee sketch of the Town Church worked well for that, but I did struggle with the Wartburg and with Hartenfels Castle at Torgau. Once I had the map I tried to get a good photo of it, without any shading, but couldn’t, even with assistance from someone with a really good camera. The solution, or at least part one of the solution, was to scan it via one of those all-singing, all-dancing giant photocopier/scanner/printers – the ones that take up half the floor space in an office.

Now, I’d drawn the map with a black fineline mapping pen on white paper. When I sent the image to the printers to check it as a precaution, before the formatter dropped it into place, I found that the jpg format the copier had produced wasn’t what was needed. So here’s my third shout-out – for the printer who obligingly altered the file I’d sent into the appropriate format. The final issue was chopping the map in two, so that it went over a double page spread, and that the printer was happy to do for me too. So a huge thank you to the technical guys at Anthony Rowe. T. IMG_3973white

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