So, according to Goodreads, Academy Romance are books where the main theme (aside from the romantic connections and relationship development synonymous with the romance genre) centers around an academy or school of some kind… pretty obvious right? From my own reading, I worked out that they are generally paranormal or contemporary, some have bullying, most have rich kids vs poor kids, and sometimes polyamorous love (bless). I also identified that there seems to be a pretty simple formula for creating artwork for these stories.
Bright colours, simple yet effective backgrounds usually depicting the academy or academy location (forest, elven ruins, beachside etc), and STUNNING fonts, often with ligatures and glyphs.
TIME FOR THE CONTROVERSY Sorry not sorry, but aside from a few of my all-time favorite artists, most academy books just look the same! (GASP, WTF DID SHE JUST SAY? PRETENTIOUS B**CH! HOW DARE SHE! I LOVE MY ACADEMY BOOKS!!!)
LETS BE FRANK HERE PEOPLE when you combine the same backgrounds (big gates, castles, or forests), and the same models with identical Frankensteined heads, who all wear the same uniforms, combined with the epic overuse of Cinzel Font – THE COVERS LOOK THE SAME!!!! I actually die a little inside when I have to use Cinzel font now, even though it is a beautiful and well-crafted font.
Not wanting to blend in, I faced a real problem. I want my clients to have unique covers that POP, but i also want them to be obviously academy? How the HELL do I make academy books and NOT fall into the same trope traps as everyone else – I mean, it’s CLEARLY what the customers want and it is working super well for some artists. All they do is academy art, in the same style, with the same fonts, and they are booked out for months!
THE TRUTH: I have always been too scared to try academy for myself. I honestly didn’t think I had the skill for making these covers look good and stand out amongst the other THOUSAND academy covers. How do you make a buxom blonde in a short skirt with blue and pink overtones standing in front of a cast-iron gate look different from the last buxom brunette in a short skirt with blue and pink overtones standing in front of a cast-iron gate? Give her pink hair? Make her have thick thighs? Sigh…. it just wasn’t enough. So, as I started learning about new techniques for creating backgrounds, light effects, and photo manipulation (thanks NeoStock and PhotoManipulation for your UNBELIEVABLE tutorials – links at the bottom of this post – you should totally check them out) I started to think maybe I should give academy a try.
First, I started researching. I created mood boards of my favourite academy books on Pinterest (yes you can see them if you visit my Pinterest page).
Next, I watched as many wonderful photo manipulation tutorials as I could on creating lighting effects, conceptualization, composition, and font work. Lastly, I started buying all the stock that sang to my heart (ACADEMY IS EXPENSIVE PEOPLE).
And these are what I came up with… I hope you like them as much as my clients did. They all sold within minutes. 🙂 I would love to work on more academy in the future.
I once again would like to thank all of my clients, from the bottom of my heart, for choosing my art to be the face of your stories, and thus, allowing me to earn a living doing something I truly love.