Whenever I make family photo books the cover comes last. I usually search “book cover ideas” on Pinterest, and then play in Photoshop and Illustrator. I spend more time visualizing ideas in my head than I do actually creating the cover. I’m particularly excited about how my last book cover turned out and thought I’d share my process.
Creating the book cover
After playing with a few ideas I settled on using the image below for the cover. This album was created for a trip we took to Grand Lake, Colorado this past summer, and I love this image. I foresee it becoming a painting in the future, and this thought inspired my cover design.
After making a Photoshop document sized for both the front and back cover (separately), I brought the image in and used the “palette knife” filter. I played with the settings a little and also tweaked the color a tiny bit.
Once the photo was turned into a “painting” I used an overlay to add some texture and interest. I used the yellow/orange/green toned paper that you can see towards the middle left, shown in the “Great Escape Soilds” paper pack below.
This paper was actually purchased as part of the “Great Escapes” kit, which I bought and used for this photo album. I do have the capacity to create my own graphics, but sometimes it’s nice to just buy some that I like. Many of these paper packs and kits are pretty inexpensive, especially with frequent half off sales, and my time is valuable to me.
Below you can see a close up of the paper I used as an overlay over the palette knife version of my image. Notice that the textured paper is in layer 6 and the palette knife image is below it, in layer 3. The layer mode for the textured paper is highlighted with the blue rectangle. You can read more about these blending modes here.
You will notice some layers that are hidden (eyeball not showing). I often times will play with a few different effects and hide different layers as I play with my options.
After just these few steps, the cover art was finished.
I opted to keep things simple and just put the title over the cover art. Often times a cover is ruined by having too much going on.
For reference, this was the first book cover I created in Photoshop, and it is an excellent example of “too busy”, although I’m sure someone could find a worse one.
For the back, I added a fun Colorado flag. I used a paper overlay on the flag graphic as well to give it a little texture. The thin black line on top is my Photoshop background peeking out in my screen shot.
Loading your book cover
Once I created the front and back cover, I loaded my designs into InDesign. I added the text to the cover and spine within InDesign, which is why you can see faint blue lines around them. Tip: I wasn’t paying attention when I made my Photoshop file and didn’t account for the bleed and trim margins when I made my file. You can find these sizes in the document setup.
I originally started making the cover art in Photoshop as one full document (front, spine and back in one file), but I ran into some complications because of the sizes of my images, particularly the overlay paper that I used. It ended up being easier to create the front and back pages separately, and I just split the file in half (did a file “save as” after cropping for each portion).
For those using Blurb, I would highly recommend doing the front and back cover separately, since it’s typical to load the front and back cover images separately. I will admit that I haven’t used Blurb’s Bookwright software recently, so you might be able to easily do the cover as one full page spread (like you do with the full spread pages).
I loaded my front cover into the Bookwright software so you can see what that looks like below.
You could add text on top of the cover art in the Blurb Bookwright program, but I would recommend playing with your text in Photoshop. It’s much easier to play with colors in Photoshop and you could have printing issues with certain fonts in Bookwright.
I do highly recommend Bookwright for book making if you don’t have some sort of publishing software. I used their software exclusively until I got InDesign about 3 years ago, since I use this software for my freelance work.
I try to develop a color scheme and style for each family album I create. This style tends to morph as I work on the pages, which is why I make the cover last. Look for inspiration online and don’t be afraid to try a few different options. Save your old layers within Photoshop in case you want to go back and play some more.
If you’re completely stumped, you can use this template I made for our last family album; and there’s nothing wrong with just using a favorite picture and a caption.
Have fun designing your own book covers!