by Laura Morrigan
Cover design can be as simple as placing text over an image– but there is often more to it than meets the eye. For those of you who are curious regarding how a cover comes together, this post should enlighten. For those of you who would like to tackle your own cover and have photoshop, this post will give you a glimpse of how I, personally, work– but it is in no way a comprehensive lesson.
Adobe Photoshopdoes a zillion things. I’m fairly sure if a rogue asteroid was about to destroy the world, you could save it with an iphone, Lassie, Bruce Willis and photoshop. If I broke the process down to include every step, your brain would go numb, so I’ll gloss over that and stick to a handful of steps and highlight the important points.
Dragon Blues, (which I highly recommend reading) features Noah, a sexy saxophone-playing ex-dragon. I love Noah and the fact that he uses music to sooth his soul– ZING! A concept was born and the cover creation began.
Step One. The Mighty First Layer. What is a layer? Aside from being the life-altering invention of some genius geek, layers allow you to place many images over one another and still manipulate each image independently eg: you can darken the color in one image without affecting the others.
My concept for DB was this: a banner and title in the center, flames below and a nighttime street scene above. Each of these aspects must be created in a separate layer. Therefore, in expectation of the flames and a night scene, I added an appropriate color gradient over Layer 1. And ended up with this–
Step 2. Flames!!! Using my smoke brushes in this layer I painted a pattern of fire, then used the blending options to make the smoke glow. Add a gradient overlay and tweak the color, and voila! Dragon fire!
Step 3. Placing the image of Nashville at night in a separate layer, I resized, altered the color and added a motion blur to soften and give the image movement, which left me with this–
Step 4. The banner was my chance to bring in the dragon and incorporate an element that can be repeated for the other books in Edie’s Dragon Series. I had drawn up the banner in another file so I dragged it onto the image, thus creating another layer. (And because it’s a layer, I can drag the banner onto the cover design for her next book, saving time and insuring continuity for the series) Resized and ended up with this–
Step 5. Text! I wanted to give the impression of a neon sign for the title, so I searched and found the right font (which took forever, as I’m easily distracted by cool fonts at places like dafont.com) I created a separate layer for each word, futzed with colors, gave each an inner and outer glow, and grin like a fool every time I look at the title.
Step 6, 7, 8, …. After getting feedback from Edie, I enlarged the title and dragon banner and re-worked the details to make the dragon more pronounced. I tweaked, added text, re-sized, fine-tuned and blended. Then did it again, and again until I ended up with –
There you have it. The creation of a cover in adobe photoshop. Sounds easy doesn’t it? It can be, but if you don’t have a clue what you’re doing and don’t have the time or inclination to learn how to use photoshop, you’re probably better off getting someone to do it for you. Photoshop is complex. Every time I work on a new project, I discover something else it can do. Sometimes on purpose sometimes on accident. So, far, I haven’t found the button that opens a portal to Middle Earth, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one.
I’m happy to answer questions about cover design and fill in some gaps of the process if you’d like to know more in that area. I’ll do what I can to answer!
Laura Morrigan spends most of her time writing mystery and suspense novels. After receiving requests from friends, she started designing ebook covers and promotional material. To see some of her designs and learn more about Laura, you can visit her website www.lauramorrigan.com