Cover Illustration Package: 100 Dreams and their Biblical Interpretations

A recent cover commission by the wonderful Jacob Makaya. I created both Swahili and English versions of this cover and believe the results are quite nice. Check out the links below to get your own copies or to learn more about my cover design.

100 Dreams and their Biblical Interpretations// Tfsari Zs Ndoto 50 Kibiblia Na Hatua Zuchukua by Jacob Makaya. Published 2017.


Life of Toy Photographers, 2017

There’s a brand new book that I’m happy to announce! – Life of Toy Photographers, 2017

It’s a look back at the artists of over the last year. I was part of the team that brought it to fruition, designing the print version of the cover and interior layout. You can also find a spread of my images inside.

Check out the announcement post and find purchase links here –

National Online Learning Day

Today is...

There are so many “holidays” every day – this is my attempt at a daily photo response. Check out for future post topics. Join in by tagging #todayis or simply leave a link to your contribution below. I’d love to see what you come up with for all these crazy holidays. Contribution links will be shared daily.

(I’ve changed the link I will be pulling holidays from, as daysoftheyear is down)

View past Today Is posts here.

Book Cover Illustration: Working Would be Great if it Weren't for Managers
My illustration for Gary Wells’ book Working Would be Great if it Weren’t for Managers. Learn more here.

Today is also…

  • National Cheese Toast Day
  • National Felt Hat Day
  • National Linguine Day
  • National Double Cheeseburger Day
  • National Creme de Menthe Day
  • Greenpeace Day

Learn more:

James and the Giant Peach

With The BFG coming to theaters soon, Roald Dahl has been on my mind. I loved his books in Elementary School, and often forget how many great titles fall under his name – Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox, to name a few, and of course, James and the Giant Peach. Here’s my interpretation of the most iconic images of the latter, with a real peach and an HO scale boy.

One below has illustrative elements, and I may add more to the others, if I can figure out just how I want to do it. Until then, I hope you enjoy. Let me know what you think. And yes, the insects were left out intentionally.

[Posting to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Look Up]

Mock Covers – Giraffe & The Invisible Man

With all this cover makeover madness, I’ve had book covers on the brain. So, I decided to make a couple, non-prompted ones. Don’t worry, I’ll be back for this week’s prompt as well.

giraffe bc

Not sure what cover this would work for (if you have an idea, let me know), but I had this vision and I had to create it – sure looks like a book cover to me.

Suggested by Sabina Ayne (thank you!!)

tears of bc







Now onto a cover inspired by an actual book – “The Invisible Man” by H. G. Wells.

invisible man bc 2


Check out my commissioned designs here.

Check out my covers for the PhotoRehabCoverMakeover challenge here.

Designing a Book Cover in Photoshop

You don’t need the whole Adobe Suite to design a cover. Photoshop will do the trick just fine. Have Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign and know how to use them super well? Go for it. More comfortable with Photoshop? This guide is for you.

When I go to design someone’s cover I ask them for the following information. You will need to ask yourself the same. I recommend typing #1, 2, 3 & 6 out in a Word document so that you can copy it over to Photoshop when you’re ready. Photoshop doesn’t spell check for you, Word does.

  1. Book title & subtitle
  2. Author(s) name
  3. Back cover copy
  4. Publisher
  5. Book dimensions and print requirements (paper type, color v. b&w, etc.)
  6. Additional information (other text, images, ideas, etc. to be included in the design or illustration)

Create a New Photoshop Document

If you’re using CreateSpace to publish your book click here:

For lulu, click here:

Other publishers probably have cover templates as well- google ‘[your publisher’s name] cover template.’ Can’t find one? Leave a comment below with what you’re looking for and I will try to help you locate it.

If you’re going to use a template…

Fill out the information that is specific to your book in the above links and download your template. Open your downloaded template in Photoshop.

{The dimensions/ specifications I’m going to use for this tutorial}

Don’t have a template…

That’s okay, you can make your own document in Photoshop. You’re just going to have to do a bit more math than the rest of us. Find your publisher’s cover specifications.

Download the ‘CreateSpace PDF Submission Specification here’: (visit pages 51 – 55)

Using these specifications with my book information (in the screen shot above):

Cover Height = Bleed + Trim Height + Bleed

     Height = 0.125 + 8 +0.125

= 8.25″

Spine, with White Paper = page count * 0.002252″

Spine = 500 * 0.002252″

= 1.126″

Cover Width = Bleed + Back Cover Width + Spine Width + Front Cover Width + Bleed

Width = 0.125 + 5 + 1.126 + 5 + 0.125

= 11.376″

Create your document

If you’re using a template, skip this section.

Open Photoshop. Select File – New. Enter your calculated dimensions. Make sure your resolution is set at a minimum of 300 pixels/inch. Click OK.

Set Guides for your Bleed and Trim Marks

With a Template

Crop your image down to the edges of the cover. Click View – Rulers. Click on the rulers and drag the teal guide lines to the edges of your trim and bleed marks, as well as the edges of your document.

Without a Template

Click View – Rulers. Click on the rulers and drag the teal guides to the edges of your document, 0.125″ inward of each edge & 0.25″ inward of each edge. Mark your spine this way as well. The 0.125″ is your trim edge- this part will most likely get snipped off when your cover is printed. The 0.25″ is your bleed – to be safe, it’s best not to put anything essential in this area.

I also mark the center of my document, to make creating the guides for my spine easier.

Try to get your measurements and guides as accurate as possible. However, since you are doing this yourself, when you upload, you will be able to see if there’s an error. Then you can tweak accordingly. Designing for someone else? Be sure they tell you if something looks off after they upload, or ask to see a screen shot of the trim.

Insert your Image Elements

I recommend you edit/ design your cover image illustration in another window. Crop it to size, then drag it into your cover document. This way, you can edit layer by layer, without effecting your text and other cover elements.

For the purposes of this tutorial I am going to make the back cover and spine all 1 color. To do this, I’m going to draw a rectangle to size.

Personally, I think color blocks are pretty boring, so I’m going to add the sky from my front cover image as an overlay. You can try out a lot of different things for your cover though. In the past I’ve used shapes and symbols that represent different aspects of the book. I’ve also created horizontal images and wrapped them all around the cover. Be creative, just don’t get too distracting. (Click here and here for examples of back covers with overlayed symbols. Click here for a cover with a wraparound image.)

{Here I flipped the sky and overlayed the image using ColorDodge at 100% opacity}

Add Text

Breathe a sigh of relief, because the hard part is done. Yes, choosing and spacing your text can take absolutely forever, but at least you’re done with math…kind of.

Typically, I add some more guides at this point. For the front cover, there needs to be a space for the title and author byline. The back cover includes the description of the book. You can include other things here too- an author bio, critic quotes, a list of prequels or sequels, artist credit, etc. Try to lay out block sections using guides for where you want to place each item. Make sure to also leave room for your barcode.

In my covers, since I rely pretty heavily on the illustration, I like to leave my text simple and somewhat centered. If you’re doing a cover that relies on typography, you might lay your cover out a bit differently. Check out this link to see some covers that rely on typography

{Here I’ve marked the verticle center of the front cover, spine and back cover to help me align my text}

Create a new text box, type your text, adjust sizing, spacing, font, color, etc. as you see fit.

{For the title I used Banbridge Bold font. ‘The’ is at 55pt and “Awakening is set at 60pt with 48pt spacing in between the words. The font color is a very light blue grey selected from the waves in the image. I then edited the layer properties for Color Burn with 100% opacity. ‘Kate Chopin’ is in Banbridge Condensed Regular, set to the same light blue grey as the title font, but with Normal rather than ColorBurn layer property.

I wanted a little more oomph to the title, as well as a separation between the title and author byline, but I didn’t want to go too modern, considering the time period of the book. So I downloaded the simple clipart flourish you see here, faded the edges a bit using the eraser, to get rid of some of the pixilation, selected the outline and filled it in with a dark brown using the paint bucket tool and then changed the layer property to Soft Light.}

Note: You must understand the copyright for anything you use on your cover. If you did not create the images or the fonts, you must either own the rights, or use ones that are under a Creative Commons license. Ever some CC images have restrictions, such as required attributions, etc.

Get in touch with the feel of your book to determine what imagery, font and colors work best. This may sound easy, especially if you’re the author, but try to think about it from your reader’s perspective. What will make them want to pick up the book and read it? What will tell them just enough about the book without giving too much away? What kind of person are you trying to attract?

Now for the back cover…

When you are placing a large block of text, especially on something that is visually driven, it is best to use a sans serif font. Take for example the text in the image above, the lines at the base of the ‘A’ or the top of the ‘w,’ those are what defines a serif font. You want to choose a font that doesn’t have those. Put tiny font all mushed together in a paragraph and add all those extra dashes and it just gets crowded and harder on the eyes.

{Here I used Halifax set at 18pt font. I used the light blue grey from the author byline, but lightened it even more so that it would be more visible against the background, and yet not as bright as white would have been. I chose Halifax because it’s still reminiscent of the roundness of Banbridge. You can see that I moved the textbox inward from the edge quite a bit and justified to the left. I also made guide lines and a white box to signify the placement of my barcode and left room under the text for any acknowledgements I might want to put in. i.e. the name of the artist who’s illustration I used for my book cover or for my interior spot illustrations. Source: This back copy is copied directly from here}

Spine text

Create a text box, type your spine text, then rotate the text box so that the bottom of the font is facing the back cover. Adjust your textbox size and your font, making sure to keep the text centered on the spine, to avoid any printing issues.

{I used Banbridge Bold at 24pt for the title and Halifax Bold at 18pt for the author. Then simply spaced using the space bar between the title and author until the author lined up with the opposite edge of my text box.}

Save for Print

Once you’ve added all your text and image elements you are ready to save your document. Be sure to save your Photoshop file first so that you can return to it to make edits, or pull from for ebook covers and promotional imagery.

When you’re ready click File – Save As and choose ‘Photoshop PDF’ from the drop down menu. Click OK on the dialogue box that pops up. In the next box ‘Save as PDF,’ choose [Press Quality] from the drop down menu. I typically uncheck ‘Preserve Photoshop Editing Capabilities.’ Leaving it checked increases your file size, and you saved a Photoshop file of your document already.

And there you have it. Now you’re ready to upload the document to your publishing site.

Want someone else to design and illustrate your cover for you? I’d love to help. Click here to learn more about my illustration services.

Click here to learn about image editing with Photoshop.

Need more of an explanation on something, have a question, or have a tip to share? Leave a comment below.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Cover Art

This week’s Weekly Photo Challenge is ‘Cover Art.’

“For this week’s Photo Challenge, stimulate your creative process and imagine which of your images you would like to see gracing the cover of a book, an album, or a magazine. Would the image inspire us to take a peek through the pages, listen to the music, or buy a ticket to the show? Would it strike a chord with viewers, making them reflect on or revisit memories of places, people, and experiences?”

The Awakening by Kate Chopin is one of those books that already has a trillion different covers. But, I couldn’t pass it up for this challenge – since it’s my favorite book. I’ve read it 3 times, years apart, and see something different in it each time.

I chose to depict the most memorable, pinnacle scene of the book. It’s been done before (although not with miniatures to my knowledge), but it’s the point in the book where Edna truely becomes free – which is what she wanted all along, and therefore I couldn’t think of depicting any other scene.

I used a photograph for the sky, clay painted with acrylic paint for the ocean and an HO scale figure for Edna.

I struggled with what font to use. Font is always my hardest decision. I wanted it to look elegant, but not overly so, because Edna’s just not that type. I considered a handwriting, sketch type look, because of Edna’s love for sketching, but I didn’t want it to look too messy or childish. I settled on Banbridge, a Summitsoft font, but I’m sure if this was an actual book cover, going to print, I’d change my mind tomorrow.

Here’s my take, with and without text. What do you think? Does it pique your interest in reading the book?

The Awakening

The Awakening textYou can see other covers I’ve created here.