Jason Gurley

By day, I'm a user experience designer; by evenings/weekends, I write novels from my home in Scappoose, Ore. My newest is Awake in the World, published February 2019 by Roaring Brook Press; my previous novel, Eleanor, was published by Crown in 2016 and has since been translated into German, Portuguese, and Turkish. I’m currently working on a new project.

DIY book cover design—Part 7: Enhancing the scene

Welcome back to another entry in the DIY book cover design series. In the previous installment of the series, we composited some stock photography into a "scene." That scene looks like this:

In today's post, which will also primarily be a video entry, we're going to look at simple ways to modify this image. You might call this photo enhancement, or post-production; either way, we're going to work with some Photoshop filters and some ordinary adjustment layers to bring the dark side out of this image. 

Before we get started, I'm going to be showing you how to work with two different tools. Neither is mandatory, but if you want to get them before we begin, here's how:

Photoshop Instagram actions
Nope, you didn't misread that. We're actually going to use Instagram effects on our book cover. The designer Daniel Box created a set of Photoshop actions that mimic some old-school Instagram filters. These are a few years olds now, and there are plenty of other more current options to download, but these are my favorite, and they're very easy to use.

Analog is a photo filter app designed for Macs. If you're a Mac user, it's a simple way to get your cover design to do a few different and very cool things. The app costs $9.99, however, so only pick this up if you think you'll get some use out of it. 

This giraffe photo
Yep. Download a high-resolution version of this photo:

Now that you're fully equipped, let's get to work:

And, since I completely forgot to include the giraffe explanation in that video, here's a followup with a few more small steps:

Let's look at where our design began, and where it ended up after our simple enhancements.

Here's where we started: 

And here's the result:

In the next entry, we'll begin adding type to the cover. I'll show you some simple text effects, how to select the right font for the job, and a few other fun things. Stick around!

Click here to see all entries in my DIY book cover design series.

DIY book cover design—Part 8: Choosing and setting your type

DIY book cover design—Part 6: Building the scene