Book Cover Design Basics, Part Three

<< See Part Two

In this section we’re going to talk about the mockup stage, how rough concepts are created, and what each party (both the cover artist and the author or editor) needs from them. For this post, I’m going to make up a fake book written by a fake author. I’m going to make it a paranormal YA fantasy, as there are quite a few of those being released into the wild currently. If I’ve inadvertently managed to come up with something similar to your story/title/name/cover, I apologise in advance.

  • The Crossing Place by Jillian Zara
  • YA fantasy
  • It may be part of a series, I don’t know yet
  • Carissa has always been different; in her dreams, she can visit alternate worlds. Recently, though, those worlds are beginning to seep into the “real” world. What is real, and what is a dream?
  • I want the main character on the cover: a beautiful girl with long red hair.
  • I want something that feels magical, or like a dream.

Ok. Yes, I know that sucks, but it will serve for our faux book. What I am going to do now is start thinking about the information that I’ve been given so far, and I’ll see what images spring to mind. I’ll try to give the author a range of different ideas so that even if they are all wrong, we’ll be able to go hotter or colder until we reach the perfect image and it all comes together.

1. First Mockups


Not great, but what I could come up with in about an hour for the purposes of this post. Real cover concepts take a lot more work and planning. :) These initial mockups would be sent to the client, who would come back with feedback – basically, how “hot” or “cold” you are to the image in their mind for the book. My honest personal favourite of these is the first one, and I may have to buy the stock so that I can do a version of it for myself. But for the purposes of this exercise, let’s say that the author likes the third one, but wants to see it in different colour schemes – one that looks more like night, etc.

2. Second Mockups

These are variations on the third concept, giving the client a chance to see it in different colours.

3. Final Mockups, and Type Treatments

The client has decided to stay with the original mockup #3 (hey, it happens – sometimes you don’t know what you like, or don’t like, until you see it), but wants to see it in different type faces, and also the author name enlarged a bit. A final choice will be made from the mockups below:

Now at this point I am heachachy and cross-eyed and I could not tell you for the life of me which looks best. But fortunately the client decides on the last one, with the sketched title.

 4. Final Steps

Once a final mockup has been chosen and there are no more changes, I will purchase the stock and create the final cover image. A final final mockup is sent out, and if that is approved, then I invoice the client. Once the invoice is paid in full, a link to a .zip file of the various image sizes and layered .psd files is provided for download, which brings us to:

Part Four: Cover Formats and Sizes for a full explanation of the various sizes and resolutions that you will need for your book.

 Part Four >>



1 thought on “Book Cover Design Basics, Part Three”

  1. Pingback: Book Cover Design Basics, Part Four | Ravven's Glass

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