The fifth DCI Cooper mystery largely takes place in Northumberland – specifically the forests of the national park and around Kielder Water. Having visited Kielder in September, I had a good mental image of how I wished the cover to look. However, with fuel prices so high, I decided to be frugal and take a stroll around Jesmond Dene, which is much closer to home, in the hope of snapping a suitable photograph.
If you'd like to see how I got on, you can watch a short video here.
After falling on my butt and spilling my cup of tea (not sure which one I was more upset about), I took the image in the top left of the grid. Back home, with a fresh cup of tea, I opened Affinity Photo and got to work. The first stage was to remove the background and isolate the trees (image 2).
Next, I made a very rough drawing to act as a background and give some depth and texture to the image. I pasted in layer after layer of trees until I was happy with the layout and the number of branches, then adjusted the transparency of each layer so the trees in the background would appear fainter. I then pasted in the forest floor, which was actually some muddy ground from Preston Cemetery.
The next stage was to adjust the colours to an orange hue and use colour burn filters to bring a darker, richer brown to the bark of the trees. A retroflex filter from Snapseed really helped to enhance the glowing effect I wanted in the background.
Finally, I needed a human model to play my unfortunate victim. Do you recognise her? Yes, that's me - wearing the shortest dress I could find. I changed the yellow dress to turquoise using a recolour tool, adjusted the position of my left arm and drew a shadow.
I used the same font as Northern Roulette to maintain consistency, then used the erase tool to make it seem as if the branches were weaving in and out of the letters. Changing some of the text to match the colour of the dress completed the look.