Luckily, the Seven series covers have not required the same painstaking "photoshop" process as the Mageri covers, which are numerous layers upon layers of images and effects.
However, each cover has been tweaked in order to make the model embody the physical traits of a character (and personality) as best I can. These techniques in no way reflect upon the beautiful models in their original form, but is the process a cover designer takes in order to make the right image for the story. I've listed a few examples below.
First we have Austin. I knew when I saw the model that "this is the guy," but he needed some adjustments. I darkened the shading on his face and eyes, zoomed in super close and patched up places on his whiskers (no, the reader can't detect this with the naked eye, but I'm that dedicated), added more hair in front, and put a pendant on his necklace.
Austin's face needed little work. ;-) It was the rest of him that became the bane of my existence. See, I can usually spot a fake tat on a cover a mile away. From a designer's perspective, they're very hard to do and make look real.
First, I had to do work in removing his freckles. I never envisioned Austin as having anything but a glorious tan, but I still left some in there because it seemed natural.
Here are a few of the images I worked with to make Jericho. When I saw the first model, I knew I'd found him. But the image had to be a solo and ideally I wanted him dressed. So model #2 had the right look (and hand!). After that, I added some hair on the right side, a ring, and really didn't do much else to the model except darken his eyes to a non-Vampiric shade. :)
So he was one of the hardest to find. Any pic with a model smiling didn't look right, even though Denny is a fun-loving guy. But from the blurb, you'll guess that we're going to see another side to Denny. My goal isn't to find the perfect model, because that only exists inside my head. But I find someone who has that sparkle - that something extra that really connects me to the character.
I had over 60 mock-ups for Denny. I don't know how many models, but the pressure was on. I narrowed it down to two and ultimately went with my heart. They were all great, and it was more than the actual model but deciding conceptually what kind of portrayal I wanted on the cover.
So as you can see, the first guy is uh...very buff. :) Not a bad thing, but Denny isn't ripped. So that meant actually pulling his chest in through the magic of photo editing, and also erasing veins and extra bulges in his arms and shoulders.
It was important for readers to see Denver, so I needed to work on the model. I lightened the hair and erased lines in the forehead, as well as the deep dimple carved in his cheek. I left a little one because it gives you the flirty impression of the fun side of Denver. His brow was pensive, so I adjusted shadows and pulled it up, erasing some of the frowny-face lines in the middle. I touched up his chin and smoothed out his skin to give him a more youthful appearance as I see Denver. He's the 2nd youngest brother and appearance-wise looks to be in his late 20s. Readers may or may not remember since I never go into detail about it, but Denver does have a scar on his forehead.
Reno and Ivy were fairly straightforward. I did add a scar and sideburns to Reno and did some work on his chest, and the only thing I really did to Ivy was work on shading. Wheeler required a lot of work because of the tats.
At the end of the day, readers see the characters the way they want to see them, and the cover is merely a visual suggestion. Many cover artists work with authors in getting the right hair color and eye color, but I'm fortunate that I'm able to design my own covers. As the author, I'm very close to my characters, and I'll get right in there and fix a rogue whisker if need be. I love every model I choose and hope that readers enjoy the final product.
If you'd like to see a couple other examples of cover design,
and HERE (this one contains a spoiler at the bottom if you haven't completed the Mageri series, so stop back in when you're done)
Happy reading. :)