How to make a sci-fiction book cover in photoshop

I’m finishing up a science fiction book cover for Cameron Mcvey’s “Nova Sol” – it’s fun to see how far it has come since the initial mockups. Based on the description (a moon crashing into earth/green planet, with lightning, maybe a person watching) I came up with these:

Cameron liked the 3rd one, so I reworked it into these, adding detail and text effects, and changing the man:

(I really love this one of the road, but maybe I’ll use it for something else).

The following will probably be the winner:


What do you think?


My most challenging book cover design project yet!

Tonight I started working on a book cover design for David Keith’s “It was 1975: Rages to Riches and Sometimes Voices”. David has put together a very detailed montage/sketch of his book cover vision, as well as a highly complex set of directions.


The title of the book is: IT WAS 1975 (Rags to Riches and Sometimes Voices).  I want the cover design to replicate the attached design I made.  The story is about a long struggling journey, which includes hitchhiking across the U.S. in the character’s early twenties.

  • I want the backdrop to be a foreboding desert landscape, with a smaller saddened hitchhiker wearing a green army jacket and his white small dog (30 pounds) near his side.  Maybe have a couple buzzards circling above. 
  • A few years later the character has a religious experience but it is not the main theme of the book so on the right is an almost faded country church that has some illumination. 
  • The present day middle aged man with my likeness bursts through the canvas and behind him peering out and one trying to reach for him are two ominous dark shadowy people (eyes seen), who have been the voices in his head for years.  The backdrop inside the tear has micro-fine red random words of doubt or ridicule, some of which over lap outside the tear.  
  • The man has an overjoyed expression as he finds a mountain of riches (can be money, jewels, gold, etc.). 
  •  I would also like somewhere in the cover an iconic representation of the 60s/70s, such as a peace sign.  Better yet, next to the road where the hitchhiker is, have a tilted road sign with a peace sign sprayed painted on it

Now normally, my first instinct would be to say “Your idea is waaaay too busy. There’s no way to pull this off.” But instead, I want to see if I can exactly replicate David’s cover, and manage to make it look awesome. I think sometimes the effort that goes into designing a cover like this – finding all of the perfect elements and blending them together seamlessly – is vastly underestimated… so I want to show the process of how a book cover gets developed from a very specific plan like this into a real cover.


This is a rough mock-up based on the images I was able to find. It is pretty busy, but it’s not too busy. If this design gets the go-ahead, I can clean everything up and blend it together so it looks more realistic. Some problems:

  • Couldn’t find a hitchiker in a green jacket
  • The church doesn’t fit into the background, because this scene bends down rather than up as it recedes.
  • For the same reason, I can’t put the church that high up (it would be too far away to see) so it has to go lower, but then the center tear-demon-gold elements has to be in the middle. May be able to fix this with a different background.

Updates coming soon!


Best star-crossed paranormal romance book cover for “Inverso”?

I had fun working on this book cover for Inverso, a YA supernatural/paranormal romance. I love the 3 finalists so much, I can’t decide which one to put in my portfolio. Which book cover design do you like the best? Here’s the summary (originally in Portuguese, not totally edited yet):

About the story, is quite simple. Is a YA book, girl meets boy but boy
is a little strange. So during the story she starts to discover about
his world that is the “inverso” of ours in values, knowledge and way
of living. While our society is evolving on capitalism and technology
his is almost like a continuity of the Hippies… they live in
community in a simple way and in harmony with nature and earth.
Because the ancestors of this society came from the nomad gypsies,
their evolution carried on the magic and supernatural powers. Of
course the new relation between boy and girl is not well seen by part
of his world but there are others that are supportive in the name of a
new evolution.




Death of a Serpent: Historical Mystery book cover design

I’m remaking the book cover for Susan Russo Anderson’s “Death of a Serpent: A Serafina Florio Mystery”. The first cover is a little boring, with simple text and flat colors. I didn’t even notice the top half is a girl’s head until much later, and the division is a little awkward.


Keeping the same basic  style, I started with these:


Not bad, but Susan suggested a blue-green background and thick, bold text. I’m loving the blue, some of these work pretty well, although the placement and balance isn’t ideal yet…


The last one looks most like a standard published book to me… what do you think?


Science fiction paranormal alien romance book cover designs

YA novels go something like this: a girl meets a boy who’s mysterious and tortured and is either a 1) vampire 2) angel 3) alien. It’s basically Romeo and Juliet (or West Side Story), but with awesome supernatural powers and sci-fi abilities that border on magic – and it can be told in thousands of different ways.

Recently I’ve begun working on some sci-fi/alien book covers and they’re a ton of fun. The books don’t fit so neatly into the above categories though – you’ll have to read them yourself to find out what happens.


KS Augustin is already a successful, published author, but never cared for the cover of the first book, “In Enemy Hands”:

We needed something different, cooler, but also a bit similar for the 2nd book. These are some of the options we’re playing with – we’re going to go with the first one, but I’ll still fix it up.




I started reading this book and it’s great so far; it was fun making the alien/human hybrid teen.


Girl meets boy, then has to help him run from the police and get back to his planet:




What’s your favorite?


Stalking Carlos Castaneda; a memoir book cover makeover

I’m finishing up a remake of “stalking Carlos Castaneda, a memoir by Joan Wulfohn. The original book cover design and final fixed cover are below:

At first, I thought I could just go with the old fashioned style, so I found these amazing pictures (which I hope I can still use for something):

There were some of my early attempts:





But then we found out we needed to use a real picture of Joan; we dug around and found some good ones, either of these below would have been great:

The final cover looks like this: very soft and interesting.


Sci-Fi Alien YA Thriller Book Cover Design

I’ve been working on a book cover design for a sci-fi/alien themed book cover – basic concept: a 13 year old girl helps a human-looking alien boy to escape, being chased by police/military, and he finally takes off in a spaceship. This is an action/thriller, probably YA also, with a pretty complex batch of stuff going on. I wanted to find images of a couple running away from the fuzz – that I didn’t find. Frustrating to be limited by the stock images available. Still, I think I came up with some good options. This is my first attempt, using the same sci-fi/space looking font and text effect, and various background/character images.

Book Cover Design #1

altogether a nice effect. sexy young couple – though they may be a little old.

Book Cover Design #2

I like how they’re creeping through the bushes, hiding from the cops. The UFO may be too much, and I don’t think it’s the right kind of spaceship – but I like how it’s lighting up the text.

Book Cover Design #3

A split-themed book cover. These aren’t my favorite, but it kind of works.

Book Cover Design #4

A little corny, trying to find an emotional/thriller-esque female protagonist for the 13 year old.

Black Swan meets Twilight: The making of a vampire romance book cover design

Cover Title: Bloodroom
Author: Naima Haviland
Genre: It’s in the range of Paranormal Romance, Dark Fantasy, and Urban Fantasy.

Bloodroom is the first book in a small collection of vampire romance novels by Naima Haviland that I’ve been working on recently. We’ve gone through lots of ideas and are getting close to something pretty great.


With “Black swan meets Twilight” in mind – a ballerina and a vampire – I started with these:

I think with a lot of coolness and decoration the closeup feet could have worked well, but they didn’t have the personality of the YA genre; usually face pictures are more moving.

So I made some dark and gritty samples:

Those are fun but too dark and busy. We took a break and started working on the next book, Bad Death, which turned out better.

Those are fun; I like the beautiful white text on the red background; I also like the messy blood splashes with the ornate frame decoration. Back to the original:


Room for improvement, but it’s starting to look pretty classy.

What do you think?