Making a Cover from Bits and Bobs

I thought I might have a little fun by showing some pictures of the progress on a personal cover I’ve been working on.

Iron Shoes (Three Tales from Hawk’s Folly Farm) has been out since 2016, and I’ve toyed with a new cover before, but haven’t ever pulled the trigger. However, since I’m working on a sequel for the Iron Shoes trilogy, I decided to work on a cover that would match the one I’ve done for Snow Haven

Snow Haven shows the two main characters somewhat at odds with each other (they are), but in Iron Shoes, the duo hit it off from the moment they meet. So I wanted the two main characters–Imogen and Guaire–to face one another.

When picking photos, I wanted to have the characters on the book match the description in the story, so that means…

Imogen has white hair (like cream), wears a lot of ivory or white, and has dark eyes and brows.  This is a near impossible combination to find, so I knew I was going to have to make a franken-character.

Guaire is not much taller than Imogen, with unkept chestnut hair and eyes the same color as a horse’s (much like Imogen’s.)

So here are the pictures I finally settled on: composite

All of those images were used to create rought draft that I made just to see whether I even liked it.


So here we have a mockup that took approximately 23 minutes to do. (Finding the right photographs took far longer, believe me!)

Of course, the hairlines were horrible, she’s looking over his head, and I needed to balance it some more, but over all I was on the right track. I had to recolor things, bend things (like the braid), adjust their eyes, and do a ton of masking–sometimes in layers. But I was happy with the overall idea, so over the next couple of days, I redid each layer over and over until I had:


At this point, I’ll step back and let it rest. It’s often hard to be objective about something you’ve just finished working on. (Much like in writing.)

Today’s Lesson:  When a graphic artist does a composite like this, the most time consuming part of this is often finding the right picture to start with. Pictures can be altered, but some are naturally harder to work with (especially if there’s not a lot of contrast between the part we want to use and the background.)