For a personal project, I wanted to create a series of book covers for fun. Something in the Public Domain so I hopefully wouldn’t have to worry so much about rights. And maybe even something that I might follow up with by putting together at least one book. Maybe as a downloadable PDF or some sort of eBook. Or maybe just a few sample pages as my personal time is rather precious to me.

I settled on the John Carter of Mars character from Edgar Rice Burroughs. According to Wikipedia, the first few books are public domain (at least in some places) and while the movie bombed at the box office, I rather liked it. It was hardly the greatest, most thought-provoking sci-fi movie out there, but it was a little disappointing it didn’t garner enough attention for at least a sequel. And I could find the text here, should I ever want to try my hand at designing some more pages.

In designing these covers, I wanted something with a bit of a western flair. I also wanted to have fun with the pulpy origins of the source material. A nice, fake worn cover a-la the classic Pulp-Fiction movie poster (I did spend my formative years in the nineties after all!) would do just nicely.

I settled on the font Western Bang Bang. Its free for personal use. And since I’m not too sure what, if anything, I’m going to do with this, I figure free should work for the project. There is a commercial license available should the need arrive.

As for the images, all the images used can be found over here at NASA. Interestingly, a good chunk of the images released by NASA have been colour corrected to look more Earth-like. This is so Earthbound geologists will have an easier time understanding the different rock formations the various landers have studied. I wanted a more “authentic” Mars look. So I found an image I was pretty certain was untouched and used that as my target for Photoshop’s “Match Color” feature found under “Image” —-> “Adjustments” (towards the bottom). This only really got me part of the way there. Some of the darker regions were looking a little odd if the adjustment was used too strongly. I then used a colour filter to add a bit more of a reddish warmth to the image. In fact, the default one work best. Hardly scientific, but it got the job done. Went from slightly hazy Earth to a very dusty Mars in no time.

And yes, I understand that using these images could pose as a problem should I try and do anything more with them. And so should anyone else. But a man can dream can’t he? Besides, it might be fun to try and replicate similar images in a 3D program. Or paint them myself. Or maybe just shoot some rocks and perform similar image adjustments as I explained above. This was just the easiest way to find useful images just to see what I could come up with design-wise.

The rest are just a bunch of black and white rips and tears pieced together. Enjoy.