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“Blameless”, or “How To Design A Cover in 1:55 seconds”

As you guys know, your friendly neighborhood Creative Director has been slaving away at the Fall 2010/Winter 2011 Orbit covers (yes, we work that far in advance) and now that the covers are (mostly) done I’ve started to launch them on the blog for your viewing pleasure, and general online critique. Well, I have a special treat above for devoted Orbit fans, cover design aficionados, and especially admirers of Ms. Alexia Tarabotti, heroine of Soulless. Timed to celebrate this month’s release of Changeless, Alexia Tarabotti’s second adventure, I have a special Making of the Cover Video for the next book, due out in September 2010, Blameless.

Over 6 hours of my onscreen compositing, retouching, color correction, type obsessing, all condensed down to a slim sexy one minute 55 seconds of cover design. Trust me, no one wants to watch it in real-time…and even then I left out the not-as-riveting-onscreen stages of my cover design process, such as reading the manuscript, sifting through Alexia photoshoot outtakes, background photo research, etc. And since this is a series look that has already been established for Soulless and Changeless, there weren’t the usual batches and rounds of versions of different designs that happen with standalone or first-in-a-new-series covers. That would be a weeklong video!

I of course just want to mention and thank everyone who worked on the cover or video: First, our Alexia: Donna Ricci, goth/steampunk supermodel and proprietress of Clockwork Couture, a fabulous place to shop for all kinds of fun steampunk clothing and accessories. (You can even buy many items Alexia has worn on her covers thus far. And an awesome octopus parasol I’ve been coveting.) Also the photographer of the cover, Tiny Dragon Productions. Also I cannot leave out the fabulous Eric Westpheling, whose work you might recall from this Philip Palmer’s Version 43 cover. And of course, thank you to the author, Gail Carriger, for writing such fun stories that we could have so much fun packaging.

I know you guys have been really into the little bit of behind-the-scenes action I was able to sneak in during my first year at Orbit, when I was kind of hanging on by my fingernails and not able to plan ahead so much. So hang on folks, this is only the beginning of a lot more fun art fabulousness on the blog. I hope you enjoy. And now, hopefully, my parents will finally understand just what it is I do all day.


  1. Abigail [All Things Urban Fantasy]

    March 8, 2010
    at 1:38 pm

    Wow! I loved that! I actually wish it had been real time :) And the BLAMELESS cover looks like the best yet!

    • kathy whitten

      March 12, 2010
      at 10:45 am

      Fascinating piece of work,very well done. It is difficult to edit any process, but you make it appear as simple as “Apple Pie”. You have a talent young lady.

  2. Heather Massey

    March 8, 2010
    at 1:55 pm

    That video was really cool. Thanks for sharing the process!

  3. The Mad Hatter

    March 8, 2010
    at 2:01 pm

    What a brilliant little video. It is amazing to see all the little touches that go into something most people would think is easy since you’re working on a series.

  4. Liz

    March 8, 2010
    at 2:05 pm

    Awesome. My favorite part was when you took out the cars. I can’t wait for the next 2 books!

  5. Baker718

    March 8, 2010
    at 2:09 pm

    Really cool. and great looking cover!

  6. Bryan

    March 8, 2010
    at 2:12 pm

    I’m always in awe of good photoshoppers.

  7. Nicole Peeler

    Nicole Peeler

    March 8, 2010
    at 2:13 pm

    That was SOOOOO COOL!!!!!!

    I love that you shortened the model’s eyelashes. Such attention to detail!

  8. J.D.

    March 8, 2010
    at 2:15 pm

    Well done! Can you re-design my Web site in 1:55?

  9. Chantal Kirkland

    March 8, 2010
    at 2:20 pm

    I have to say, that’s pretty awesome. Thank you for sharing!

  10. Donna Ricci

    March 8, 2010
    at 2:27 pm

    Thanks for fluffing my bustle! :) You are the best Lauren and that video is super fun.

  11. Eric

    March 8, 2010
    at 2:38 pm

    Amazing. And I really dig the insertion of the buggy.

  12. Cora Zane

    March 8, 2010
    at 2:44 pm

    Ooh, cool! So many fine detail changes, and the end result is beautiful.

  13. Erika (Jawas Read, Too)

    March 8, 2010
    at 2:50 pm

    That was fantastic! I would love to see more cover videos. :)

  14. […] is more on the Orbit Blog but that video doesn’t half hide how much skill is going on to do all that and make it look to […]

  15. Amanda Cobb

    March 8, 2010
    at 3:05 pm

    That was really cool, thanks for sharing! Always interesting to see the process other designers use.

  16. Chrysta

    March 8, 2010
    at 3:14 pm

    I love it!

  17. Gail Carriger

    Gail Carriger

    March 8, 2010
    at 3:30 pm

    So fantastic! I love my covers.

  18. Peggy Schenck

    March 8, 2010
    at 3:45 pm

    WOW! Admittedly I watched the video more than once. I love photoshop, but so do not have those kinds of skills!! I grovel at your feet!!! Nice work!

  19. Emma Petersen

    March 8, 2010
    at 3:54 pm

    Absolutely gorgeous. I’d love to know which software was used.

  20. Lauren Panepinto

    Lauren Panepinto

    March 8, 2010
    at 4:06 pm

    You guys are flattering me! Most of the hard work was done for me by lovely Donna and her photographer.

    @Gail: authors loving their book covers are the highest compliment!
    @Erika: already have another video in the works! Of a behind-the-scenes at a photoshoot! So stay tuned!
    @J.D.: maybe in 2:55
    @Nicole – actually i was taking out the greenscreen fuzz, and lost some eyelashes along the way, but, close enough
    @Emma: photoshop for the image, and Illustrator for the type. I forgot to mention in the post, but the sky & gargoyle stock images are from Shutterstock and the Ornithopter is from ImageWorks

  21. Linnae Crady

    March 8, 2010
    at 5:25 pm

    I really enjoyed your 55 second cover video. Cover Cafe sponsors an annual romance cover contest. The process of designing covers is complex and we marvel at some of the wonderful covers created every year.

  22. Celine Kiernan

    Celine Kiernan

    March 8, 2010
    at 5:39 pm

    Bloody lovely job! I’ve watched this so many times, just to try and catch all the details. Now excuse me while I pimp it on my blog and FB page.

  23. Jessica Kennedy

    March 8, 2010
    at 8:13 pm

    That was amazing! :) And I love the cover!

  24. Rachel Aaron

    Rachel Aaron

    March 8, 2010
    at 8:43 pm

    Those are some serious photoshop skills!! Very cool!

  25. Pamela

    March 8, 2010
    at 9:14 pm

    Thanks for the inspiration! Another great feature was the music, loved it. Do you know the artist and name of the song?

  26. Nicole Peeler

    Nicole Peeler

    March 8, 2010
    at 9:15 pm

    Lauren: I totally had this whole scenario where you were like, “Those aren’t fighting lashes! THESE are fighting lashes!” I’m gonna run with my scenario, thanks. ;-)

  27. Monika

    March 9, 2010
    at 12:57 am

    I loved this. Very interesting. Thank you.

  28. […] of the Cover Video” for Gail Carriger’s Blameless (released in the fall) to the Orbit blog: Over 6 hours of my onscreen compositing, retouching, color correction, type obsessing, all […]

  29. […] another shiny thing I saw recently on Orbit’s site: Lauren Panepinto, the Art Director there (who designed the 100K cover and has just shown me the prelim of book 2, […]

  30. Heather Napolitano

    March 9, 2010
    at 9:55 am

    cute video lauren…well done! (i didnt know your company was part of Hachette, I used to work there years and years ago!)

  31. […] Creating Blameless […]

  32. Kristen Painter

    Kristen Painter

    March 9, 2010
    at 1:17 pm

    That was really cool. Makes me wish I knew Photoshop.

  33. jessiev

    March 9, 2010
    at 4:47 pm

    this was VERY cool. i love gail’s 1st book (can’t wait for more) – and seeing the cover “come to life” is amazing. great work!!

  34. […] Read More here […]

  35. digimikek

    March 9, 2010
    at 9:10 pm

    beautiful but can anyone identify the music?

  36. […] Vía | orbitbooks.net […]

  37. […] aficionados a peek into her long process of designing a book cover. This two-minute video captures every Photoshop tweek and edit on the cover design of an upcoming novel by Gail […]

  38. Jaap

    March 10, 2010
    at 4:20 am

    Really nice video! Can someone tele me who made the music?

  39. Lauren Panepinto

    Lauren Panepinto

    March 10, 2010
    at 9:36 am

    The music was found by the video editor, Eric, and is from neosounds.com – a royalty-free music site – it’s called “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth” – kind of fitting, right?

  40. Anna

    March 10, 2010
    at 11:48 am

    Absolutely stunning! So many different and interesting things go into making a book cover and your attention to detail really pays off. I love the cover and can’t wait to hold the finished product in my hand. Bravo!

  41. mike barler

    March 10, 2010
    at 1:15 pm

    very nice. kinda surreal, glad i wasnt on drugs.

  42. mike barker

    March 10, 2010
    at 1:16 pm

    that barler guy really likes your video….so do i.

  43. mike barker

    March 10, 2010
    at 1:18 pm

    very nice job! you are an artist anyone could be proud of, esp your father in law….love ya!

  44. […] Via […]

  45. […] working on designing a cover for major SF&F imprint Orbit, has created a time lapse video of her work on a cover for Gail Carriger’s steampunk novel […]

  46. Jim Sikora Illustration

    March 11, 2010
    at 10:51 am

    Impressive to see what others are doing with Photoshop. Great work.

  47. Tom

    March 11, 2010
    at 3:19 pm

    Wow! That is very impressive. The cover and the video, that is. I wonder how you make a video about a “how to design a cover in 1:55” video. Great work as always Lauren!

  48. […] her process for designing the cover ofBlameless by Gail Carriger. In one minute and 55 seconds, The Making of a Book Cover time-lapse video takes us through intense Photoshop compositing and retouching, type tweaking in […]

  49. […] Have you ever wondered how book covers come to be?  On Orbit, Laura Panepinto posted a YouTube video on that very subject. […]

  50. […] Orbit Publishing shows us, in 1 minute 55 seconds, how a book cover is designed and revised. […]

  51. […] Lauren Panepinto, creative director at Orbit, ran her video screen capture as she designed a cover for the book series she works on. As she wrote on her company blog: […]

  52. cover up! « barbara fister’s place

    March 13, 2010
    at 5:55 pm

    […] This is interesting … a time-lapse idea of how a designer combined and altered images to create a book […]

  53. Steve Cook

    March 14, 2010
    at 5:40 am

    What a great video!

    Being a professional photographer, and having done lots of digital comping myself it was great to see how a designer does it as opposed to a photographer, and boy, do I wish it could be done it 2 minutes!

    Love the “ooops!” moment.

  54. xtian777

    March 16, 2010
    at 11:47 am

    I really enjoyed the visual process!
    What tune is that? Who is the musical artist?!

  55. […] designer, Lauren Panepinto, Creative Director of Orbit Books, writes about this video: Over 6 hours of my onscreen compositing, retouching, color correction, type obsessing, all […]

  56. […] two-minute video captures every Photoshop tweek and edit on the six-hour-long cover design […]

  57. […] problem, I admit, for a teeny book cover…but FABULOUS for a poster. And since I know you guys love these how-to videos, I screen-captured my process so you too can make your own Editable-Text Optical Illusion […]

  58. Elizabeth

    April 26, 2011
    at 2:38 pm

    What a fascinating process! Also, those covers are so luscious and appealing that I must now read about (and probably acquire) the books.

  59. […] Source […]

  60. Pinkkrush

    April 16, 2012
    at 1:41 am

    Great vídeo. I have a question. The background music: Could you please identify who the composer, artist, or title of the music playing in the background please?

  61. Raspberry Ketone

    February 4, 2013
    at 3:28 pm

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  62. Lipodrene Xtreme

    February 4, 2013
    at 4:12 pm

    You actually make it appear so easy with your presentation but I in finding this topic to be really one thing which I think I might never understand. It kind of feels too complicated and very vast for me. I am looking ahead on your subsequent post, I’ll attempt to get the dangle of it!

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