Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Designing Book Covers for a Series - My Second Portfolio Project

I've now completed all three covers for my friend, Jannine Gallant's, independently published novella series, Secrets of Ravenswood. The second book in the series, She'll Never Rest, is scheduled to come out the first of April, so I thought I'd give you a sneak peak and talk about some of the things I learned working on this, my second, book cover design.

Here's the cover for She'll Never Rest. 

For comparison, here's the cover for We'll Never Tell, the first book in the series.

Because this series is set in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, we knew we wanted a forest background for each cover. However, She'll Never Rest also features an old graveyard, takes place around Halloween, and has a ghost-story twist, so we were able to incorporate that into the background. The cover also features a couple in approximately the same proportion as the first and uses the same font and color scheme for the text. 

That part should have been the easiest but actually turned out to be quite tricky. Because I've been bouncing between houses in California and Minnesota for the past three months, I did the covers on two separate computers. Those of you who have used Photoshop will understand that means I saved the images with the layers in two separate places with no access to each other. That made matching the fonts and colors much more difficult than it should have been.

Lesson #1: If you're working on a series, WRITE ALL THE SPECIFICATIONS DOWN.

I also had trouble with the first couple we chose because I failed to consider every aspect of the image.

Lesson #2: Many model shots are artistically cut off at the top or sides. This looks great but does not allow the cover artist enough freedom to place the image where it needs to go. If the models' heads or arms are cut off, those sides need to go up against an edge, and that does not always work, especially in a series where continuity is key. WHEN USING IMAGES WITH PEOPLE, CHOOSE COMPLETE BODY SHOTS WHENEVER POSSIBLE. This allows the cover designer to crop them appropriately.

Fortunately, I also learned some new techniques, like how to draw on the image in color and  use the blur function. Both came in very handy when touching up the edges of the model's hair. Hair is notoriously difficult to select, cut, and paste onto another image.

In another month or so, I'll share the cover for the final book in the series, He'll Never Know, and you can take a look at all three together. Working on these covers has been a great experience, and Jannine has been a fantastic first client!


  1. It is soooo true that just when you think you have something new nailed, you find out there's more to learn. Formatting has been that challenge for me! The covers are beautiful, Alison. I don't think anyone would ever guess they're your first attempt at this particular art form!

  2. You'd think some of these things would be common sense, but NOOO. I guess we just have to learn the hard way. LOL