Cover Design, Editing, Self Publishing

The Hunt – Cover Trials

I recently wrote a short story titled “The Hunt”, which is about a house pet…a ferret, actually, who wants to join the hunt that happens outside each night. The story is upbeat at times, dark at others, and is currently in the editing process.

I approached the cover design with four goals. I wanted to…

  1. Communicate the feeling of a nighttime setting
  2. Show a ferret on the cover
  3. Communicate that the book will contain some dark elements
  4. Provide a touch of mystery splash of hope


I started with step 2, which was to find a picture of a ferret that would look good on a cover. You may not know this, but there is a very small fan base for ferrets. They aren’t a common household pet by any means and while pictures were present, the variety and resolution I needed was not. Nevertheless, I was determined to find a good photo, even if I had to touch it up some. In the end, I did find a photo I felt comfortable editing.


This is a black footed ferret and the scene is a desert enclosure. The story took place in the front yard of a suburban house, so the setting was off, but this photo had the full body of a ferret and adequate resolution. I was going to make it work. After tweaked a few layers and worked with the colors, I came up with an evolutionary process of book covers. You can see the progression below….

This one got the right sizing, but both the color and visible setting were off. I had to change something here. Drastically.

I definitely liked the direction the cover was going in. I raised the surface of the title text and the dark blue color theme generally communicated the theme of the book, but there were a few problems. Too much blue. Too much contrast. Too Dark.

I started to tone down on the color saturation. This cover was better looking in some ways, but worse in others. It was in limbo. Overall, the image appeared flat and that wasn’t going to work.

I toned back the color almost completely, with just a shade of blue. I also went back to my previous filters and the cover looked almost complete. It was still too dark. I couldn’t see enough of the ferret. People needed to know at least that it was some kind of weasel, so I decided to tone back the darkness of the picture in the following image, which is the final draft for the moment…

This one roughly satisfied each of the requirements more or less and it’s the one I intend to keep unless something comes up or I decide to redesign the cover in the future.

4 thoughts on “The Hunt – Cover Trials”

  1. Thanks for showing the process. I’m currently going back and chiseling more on the cover for my first book. It never did “feel” right, even with the one I bought. It wasn’t until I was looking for something else, and wound up using the wrong search string (book’s title, instead of concept) that I realized what I had done wrong. Seeing your process gives me hope that I’m at least on the right track now.

    Love the last image – looks like the little guy is standing in the moonlight, and something off camera really has his attention.


      1. Steep learning curves often don’t look that bad until you are on them. Then, they look like over hanging cliffs. That’s about the stage I am at, so any insight helps put it back in perspective.

        Onward and upwards!


  2. I’m starting to work on creating my second cover. I ran into a problem with it. I needed a photograph of a airliner that had crashed and was broken up on impact. Well, I couldn’t find one, so I did the next best thing. I found a picture of an intact airplane, then using PSP X7, I was able to ‘break’ the plane into three pieces. Next I took out the original background, and just have the plane on a transparent background. Next I need to find a high resolution photo of a desert, so I can set my plane on it, change the name of the plane on the side, maybe do some tweaks here and there trying to get the look I need.

    Seeing your process has helped me start coming up with ideas on how to work on the tweaks. 🙂

    I just upgraded my PSP X4 to the X7, and there’s a lot of changes. I’m having to try to figure out how to do some stuff all over again, but it seems to be a nice program.

    Good luck with your NaNo and sells. 🙂

    Amy P. Reed


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