Making book covers

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.


This month’s question is long-winded, but it could be condensed into a short query: what do you do if you can’t write? If I can’t write, which happens quite often, alas, I either read or make book covers. That’s what I wanted to talk about today.

My approach to creating book covers might be peculiar because I can’t draw. I have to use existing images from free image sites, like Pixabay, and enhance them until they show what I want.

Let’s take a look at one example. Here is the original image by

The image is large enough to manipulate safely. First, I cropped it to make the figure more prominent.

Then I removed the white window casements over the woman’s head. The universally dark bricks might be duller from the architectural viewpoint, but they would display the title and other texts better.

I changed the face to one of the portraits by He is a wonderful portrait artist, and I like using his faces for my covers. I changed the hair – it is a blend of several different images. I changed the sword, made it more elaborate. It is also a composite of two different swords. To jazz up the whole a little more, I added the blooming shrubbery around the heroine. And finally, I introduced the title and author name. Here is the first version of my pre-made cover.

Still I wasn’t happy with it. It looks sort-of bland. I could’ve made it more playful by adding flying fairies instead of shrubbery. Or I could’ve cropped it in a different way and shown a woman and a dragon. Or a wolf shapeshifter. Or I could’ve added some magic sparkles. There are many ways the same original image could be transformed into different book covers, depending on the book’s genre and content. I decided to use a different background altogether.

Here is the cover I would use if I needed one – with the same woman:

I find it deeply satisfying that I can create art without being an artist myself. Artistic software is a wonderful tool, and I use the free graphic program for all my artistic needs.

What about you? Some of you make book covers too. How do you approach the process? What tools do you use?     


This entry was posted in art, book cover, Insecure Writer's Support Group, Olga Godim, Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Making book covers

  1. Wow. Colour me awed. You may say that you are not an artist, but I would dispute that. Your medium is electronic.

  2. Denise+Covey says:

    Hi Olga. I’ve been through the cover creation process with so many artists, it was good to sit back and read your process instead of sweating over my own. Like the end result.

  3. You are an artist. Those transformtions are pure magic. I love the peep into the workings and how-to’s of making covers. And I still love the one you made for me! Hopefully the book will be finished somewhen!

  4. You are so talented. I love how you changed the original image into an awesome cover.

  5. spunkonastick says:

    There are so many programs now to help people put together covers. Our illustrator still does it the hard way – all from scratch. LOL

  6. patgarcia says:

    The cover you created is amazing. You are an artist.
    Shalom aleichem

  7. Clever use of the elements!

  8. Jemi Fraser says:

    Fascinating! I’m so impressed!

  9. Sonia Dogra says:

    Hi Olga. I’m very impressed by how you do it. I tried doing this only once, but it didn’t quite turn out. Mostly I picked up things as they are, only enhancing some of the features. I like how you work on the detailing, creating something absolutely new.

  10. emaginette says:

    I have but only after watching a bunch of YouTube to give me some guidelines. So much to consider and I’m NOT a natural. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  11. Loni Townsend says:

    I subscribe to the theology that art is art, regardless of the medium. Yours might not be traditional, but I wouldn’t dismiss yourself as not being an artist.

    Manipulating people images is the one thing I’ve shied away from in my art, so bravo to you. I did use a picture of my friend for This World Bites, but the skin color is too pale for my actual vision of the character, and I never figured out how to darken her skin realistically. I also never mastered the art of merging one real reference with another. I, too, use paint.NET for my big book covers, and it’s where I started my digital art journey. The globe on the cover of This World Bites was made in paint.NET too.

    Here’s a link to my big book covers. Everything from the stone texture, scratches, cracks, glassy symbols, and metal text were made using paint.NET tutorials. Awesome program.

  12. Lee Lowery says:

    I love seeing your process – the transformation is exciting! I definitely consider it art. I do my own cover art, as well. I enjoy creating the whole package with my projects.

  13. yvettecarol says:

    I admire your bravery. I’ve never been able to bring myself to make my own covers. And, I’ll admit that I have spent a lot of money paying other people to do them for me. Your cover looks great. Well done, Olga.

  14. Diane Burton says:

    That is fascinating. I’m going to try your method.

  15. I love that, Olga. Canva has a great feature that removes the background–like the brick. And, there are stand-alone tools for that. I used to have to do it through cropping. Now, it’s simple and oh so much cleaner.

  16. That is impressive! I can’t draw either. I also can’t make covers. That is a gift not everyone has.

  17. denizb33 says:

    Oh, wow! It’s fun to see your process! I think I could use book cover designing as a procrastination tool :p

  18. Obong eno says:

    Nice, well done 💪

  19. S.E. White says:

    I had no idea how to even start manipulating an image like that, and here you are with dozens of ideas lined up. Wow! Digital bow to your media prowess.

  20. C. Lee McKenzie says:

    I was fascinated by the process, Olga! Loved the end results.

  21. Wow, Olga! Such talent!
    I’ve never dabbled in any programmes like this, not even Photoshop (I haven’t the slightest idea how it works) so I’m totally impressed by your artistic manipulations!

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