Raev Gray Graphic Design

Requesting Commissions

Although most of the work displayed here is for authors, I'm happy to do graphic work for anyone. If you have an idea for something you don't see here, by all means, let me know and we'll see if we can work something out.

I do graphic manipulation for the kind of work you see here. I can do photo manipulation to a certain extent, but I don't do logos or "photoshopping" images of celebrities, etc. (you know what I mean).

How This Works

The process is pretty simple.

Step One: You make a commission request. The more specific you an be, the better, but I need the following:
  • Your name/penname
  • What this image is for (e.g., a book cover, an author banner, a website header, a forum signature, etc.)
  • If it is a book cover or author banner: Title? What is the story about? What genre is it? What form (novel, novella, short story, etc)?
  • For book covers: do you need just a front cover or a back cover as well?
  • Any size/dimension requirements given by a publisher. Lulu, for example, is very specific about size requirements. Please be sure to save the email/webpage you got these dimensions from in case one of us needs it later.
  • If you want any specific images, please send me links (not the actual images).
  • Any requests for layout/design of the cover. If you send me no guidelines, I'll assume I have artistic license.
Step Two: We acquire images (see "Legal and Monetary Stuff," below)

Step Three: I do my Photoshop thing. I will send you drafts along the way to see how you like what I'm doing. You approve or ask me to revise. Again, the more specific you are with your requests, the better. (I'll also send you status updates on how much time I've spent thus far on your image.)

Step Four: I will send you the finished image in the dimensions and format you specified. I can send you various sizes of images (i.e., full size, half size, thumbnail size). At this time, I will give you a total of time spent and quote a price.

Step Five: I will make any small adjustments free of charge. However, should you decide on major substantive changes at this point, additional fees for time spent will be incurred, as I make every effort to stay in constant contact with clients while I'm drafting to make sure we're both on the same page and clients are satisfied.

Step Six: I will post images to my portfolio website only when you decide to release the image to the public.

A Note About Lulu and Other Print-on-Demand Publishers
POD publishers like Lulu have their own process for submitting covers that involves creating barcodes and ISBNs (this is an optional feature) and adding them to cover images. I'll make adjustments for these processes free of charge.


How much does it cost?
I charge $25USD per hour of work. This includes only work done while actually creating the image. I will give you honest regular reports about how much time is spent on your image.

How will I pay you?
I accept Paypal only, for simplicity's sake. Paypal will convert your currency to USD, which makes payment easier for everyone. We'll agree upon an amount before you send me any money.

How long does it take for you to create an image?
It depends on the size of the finished product and how complicated it is. It takes time to find the "right" images and time to create the finished product. I'm also a grad student, a teacher and a writer, so I have other obligations as well. However, I will make every effort to create your image within three weeks, unless you specify a time frame.

What if I don't like the image you create?
I do my best to make sure this doesn't happen. As I mentioned above, I'll check in with you periodically to make sure you like what I'm doing. You're free to disagree with my design choices and request new ones. If you just plain don't like what I'm doing, you're free at any time to go elsewhere for your design needs; I won't be offended. However, charges for image rights and work done thus far will be incurred.

How can I give you credit?
You must give me credit for creating the image. For author banners, website banners, forum signatures, etc., I will put a notice in small print on the image. You must not crop this notice out of the image. For book or story covers (e-book or print versions), either follow the requested format from the publisher or give me credit as follows:

Cover (c) Raev Gray [year]: http://raevgraydesigns.weebly.com and raevgray.design@gmail.com.

Legal and Monetary Stuff

Image Rights
The subject of image copyright is a complicated one, but the bottom line is, I must have access to the rights in order to use the image. This means that images must come from one of a few limited sources:
  • A stock photo site (see below for image purchasing details). I often use istockphoto.com.
  • A Creative Commons license for commercial use and distribution. These images are usually located through Wiki sites or through a Creative Commons image search. Images must specify that they allow for commercial use and distribution if you (or I) plan to make a profit from the finished image(s).
  • Someone else's image if I have a written statement from that person giving me permission to alter the image and use it for commercial distribution. It is your responsibility to make arrangements with the creator of the image. (If you need details, just ask.)
  • Me. I'm an amateur photographer and I'm perfectly okay with using my own images.
  • You. If you'd like me to use a photo of your own, that's okay, too. However, you must own the copyright. This means that I will not use photos taken by anyone but you. If you send me an image of your own, please send a written statement that you own said image.
Purchasing Images
I use stock photo sites like istockphoto.com to purchase images I can't find anywhere else. If I can find it free, I will. If you want to use images from stock photo sites, I request that you pay for the purchase of these images in addition to my fees. Most stock photo sites work on the credit system. That means that different sizes/resolutions of the photo are worth a certain number of credits, which are purchased in packages on most sites. The purchaser owns the image after download. Image right transference is tricky, so here is the process:
  1. Search the stock photo site (I've listed several below) for images you'd like to use. I can make suggestions and/or search for images I think can work, as well.
  2. Send me links to those images along with any requests for how you'd like me to use the image (see below for what I can do with images).
  3. After we've finalized what images I will use, you will pay me via Paypal for the number of credits required to purchase the images. I will send you proof of purchase of these images so you know where your money is going. If I already own the rights to an image you request, I will of course not charge you for it.
  4. I will then own the image rights. I require this because there is usually a limit to how many computers the copyrighted image can exist on at one time under one license, and I need to be able to have sufficient backups of the images.

Some Stock Photo Sites
I prefer to have a limited number of accounts on stock photo sites for simplicity's sake, but if you find an image on a site not listed here, let me know and we'll work something out.


A Note About Fonts

I generally use fonts that already come with Windows for my images, because fonts are often copyrighted as well. If you wish to use a copyrighted font, you must pay for that as well. N.B., any font that you downloaded from a website is probably copyrighted.

How I Use Images

I make sure that I have full rights to alter images as I please, because I much prefer to have flexibility in how I design a cover or a banner. Here's a (non-exhaustive) list of what I can do with any image you give me:
  • Crop/remove part of an image (example: if you want just one person from the image, or if you want to remove an object/person from a background)
  • Basic color changes (example: eye/hair color in images of people)
  • Flip an image to face the opposite way
  • Adjust color to a certain extent.
  • Change the overall color scheme in a relatively monochromatic image (see Aleksandr Voinov's author banner for an example)
  • Blend images together
  • Use "filters," e.g., make the image look like a watercolor, pencil drawing, etc.
  • Add text
  • Add textures to give the picture a particular effect (e.g., antiquated, grungy, etc.)
Some examples of what I can/will/like to do
  • Book covers
  • Author banners
  • Forum signatures
  • Website headers
  • Icons (for LiveJournal, etc.). I will do icons for free, as a "sample" of my work.
  • Posters, bookmarks, etc. for your company or business under certain circumstances (see me for details)
What I cannot/will not do
  • Make an image of small or crappy quality look like a masterpiece
  • Fix pixelation or blurriness
  • Remove watermarks (No. Absolutely not.)
  • Use any image to which I do not have access to the rights
  • Posters, bookmarks, etc. for your school projects (I'm a teacher. Don't make me do your work for you.)
What I require from any image I use
  • JPEG, PSD, TIFF, RAW or PNG format. I can't work with GIFs. They aren't made for the kind of manipulation I do. Sorry.
  • Clarity. I can't make a blurry image sharper without losing the integrity of the image.
  • Decent light. It doesn't have to be perfect, but I can't take a dark webcam picture look like it was taken in a studio.
  • Decent color balance. See above.
  • Good resolution. The bigger the resolution, the better. Large images can be shrunk to any size without losing their integrity; small images get ugly and pixelated when enlarged. Stock photos are of excellent quality and are prefect for the work I do.