The Making of a Book Cover

  • Step 1–Finding a base image for the wolf–used to create the fur and eye socket overlay.
  • Step 2–Original Creepy Guy Image Main image used with the wolf to create the wolfman beast composite.
  • Step 3–Desaturate all of the color aside from the eyes and the mouth and increase the contrast to bring out highlights and shadows and create better blending with the wolf overlay.
  • Step 4–First part of the overlay. Select the guys face and create a clipping mask for the wolf overaly. Pinch and warp the wolf image to fit the shape and contour of the face.
  • Step5–Adjusting the blending and effects to create more of a realistic hybrid.
  • Step 6–Adding in the eye socket detail and painting around the eye to fill in the gaps.
  • Step 7–Selecting areas of the wolf image and pasting, blending, warping, and adding effects to fill in the rest of the cheek area.
  • Step 8–Fill in around the mouth and the lower part of the face by copying areas of fur, blending, and painting.
  • Step 9–Adding back the highlight and shadow details for a more realistic effect. Wolfman is ready for his cover!
  • Step 10–Create a red to black gradient layer and add multiple layers of grunge and texture paint effects to build up the background and add depth.
  • Step 11–Bringing the Wolfman to the Background Adding the wolfman character with a gradient mask to the background to adjust the blending. Sizing and positioning while allowing room for the title and author.
  • Final Steps–A Few More Effects Adding some blood drop and splatter effects and a bit of red smoke to create more mood and dimension to the cover. Finally adding the title and author information in a spooky font that matches the typeface of the other title in the series.

I thought it might be helpful—and fun—to highlight part of the process of designing a book cover to give authors a better idea of what is involved and what they are paying for when they choose to bring in a professional designer who has invested time and money in education and software. And depending on how you do business and file your taxes, all or part of the cost of your book cover designs may be deductible—consult with your Accountant.

When designing a book cover for Emily Hill at A.V. Harrison Publishing, we always have a blast because she is open-minded and has fun themes. But more importantly, she trusts me. She also realizes the work involved and knows that a professionally designed cover has value and will pay for itself through book sales.

Many people think that book cover design is easy and involves nothing more than finding a cheap or free image and typing the book’s title across a PowerPoint slide, and presto, book cover! Emerging authors may not realize that if their book cover isn’t designed with the highly-competitive book market in mind, they will lose the confidence of their reader before they hit the ‘Buy’ button (hey, they did it themselves and are proud of their work and cost savings!) Designing your own cover may actually cost you sales and distribution.

Designing a book cover or editing a manuscript only appears effortless and easy because professionals make it look that way—they know what they’re doing and are good at what they do. I applaud the confidence and determination of those trying to go it alone, but knowing when to get help is just as commendable.

In the slideshow, I have highlighted some of the stages in the design of the book cover for A.V. Harrison Publishing’s Ghost Stories, Tales of Terror, the second installment of short-stories in a four-part series.


After chatting with Emily about this series, we decided to highlight one of the characters from her favorite story in the book: the uninvited dinner guest; a wolf-like beast with red eyes. To keep with the look and feel of book one of the series, we decided it would be best to keep the cover to a photograph, rather than creating an illustration. This is where the fun started for me!

  • Search for images (both images found on iStock)
  • Create the wolfman beast
  • Create a background
  • Put it all together with effects and type
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