Cover Designing Secrets — Mary C. Findley

queen by force

I have been called the queen of free when it comes to cover designing. That means I try to produce an eye-catching product with free images and elements. I was reading for inspiration an interview with another cover designer, and he mentioned that he created a crest for a fantasy cover using a program that costs over $700. And that was just one element of that admittedly stunning cover.

Well, I want to design stunning covers too, but I can’t afford that much for just one designing tool right now, however cool it may be. So I tried some things I have on hand, and I’m going to show you how I created this cover, which I think is pretty cool.


scary man small

I started with this man, a free image from Pixabay. My first do-it-yourself tip is make sure you find the highest quality and resolution images you can. Well-trained and well-equipped designers often hire models, create costumes, and shoot their own pictures for covers because they have control of the quality, resolution, and lighting,  critical elements of a knock-your-socks-off cover. But this image’s resolution and lighting are perfect for the effect I wanted, and it’s free.

I didn’t want such a clean-cut scary guy, however. so I grabbed some of his own hair, trimmed and faded edges, twisted and turned it in different directions, created different lengths and shapes, and gave him a case of bed-head that changed him forever.

Next I changed the color of his eyes. Neither one of them stayed its original shade. From blue-grey they went to one ice-blue to match his jeweled crown, and one gold. I wanted the gold eye to match the background, which is also free on Pixabay. I loved the gritty but glowing variety it made.

I decided he ought ought to be a king, so I gave him a crown. These raised shapes, in the crown, the corner ornaments, and the “O” in Force, came with my design program. They have many metallic and colored finishes, and even leathers, furs, fabrics, and plant textures, that I can apply. I have more options I can add, too, from free sites like Webtreats. I just had to tweak the shades and metallic and jewel finishes and add shadows.

So the images were finished, but next I needed a catchy title. Technically I want to sell this as a premade, so I don’t get to decide the final title. But I really hope it’s something with an “o” in it so I can use the Queen’s crown I made as a design element. I love it when the text is a design in itself and incorporates a story element. This font is freebooter, and the author name font is called Hayden.

If there’s someone out there writing a fantasy or even historical fiction story about a forced marriage, or just a creepy old king, let me know if I can help you. My creepy old king needs a home.

Anyone who has questions about cover design, or feedback or suggestions on what kinds of tutorials I could share in the future, please let me know!

If you would like to contact me about any of my covers or designing, here’s my link:

queen by force


Or just post a comment here! Thanks!  — post by Mary C. Findley





queen by force

2 thoughts on “Cover Designing Secrets — Mary C. Findley

  1. My new “The Wife Of Jesus” cover is done with a free image from Pixabay and some type in InDesign. Yours are getting quite good. I pray the Lord blesses your ministry.

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