Book Cover Illustration

Thumbnail sketches

I begin with several rough thumbnail sketches in my sketchbook or on my iPad using the Procreate app. I’d recommend trying a variety of different ideas, especially when it comes to book cover design. Sometimes the best ideas are your later ideas. In this case, I use an early idea, but I like a couple of the other sketches as well. Another plus to sketching multiple ideas is the practice you get and the potential ideas for future projects.

Choosing a composition and title/author layout

Once I decide on one of the compositions, I use it to begin work on a more detailed sketch. Nothing is final, but it gives me a good jumping off point. I like the title placement on the winding path and the wolf as an outsider looking on.

Painting and shading

Nest, I create a color palette and begin painting. I make sure the colors will work for the interior story pages as well. It’s important that the cover is cohesive with the rest of the book. Next, I move on to shading, adding texture and the little details that give the illustration personality. The character details will stay with them for the interior pages as well so they need to fit the story. Working in layers allows me to resize, move, delete, or add to the illustration.

Hand lettering

Hand lettering doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s something I ‘m trying to get better at because hand lettering adds character and uniqueness to your projects. It’s definitely worth your time. There are lots of fun fonts to use as inspiration. I choose a font for the book title and author info and use them as placeholder text. Using placed text is a good way to play around with the layout, text size, and color before you begin the hand-drawn lettering process. Tracing over the font with your favorite lettering brush is another way to begin. You can add lettering details, texture, and manipulate each letter or word individually later.

Putting it all together

Book covers are a lot of fun to work on. A book cover is like a window. Readers peek through the window before deciding if they want to read the rest of the story. The little pig characters and wolf are the main characters of the story, so I did spend time developing them before committing them to the cover. As always, I make final edits in Photoshop.

Helen Deasy
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