Cover Design, Self Publishing, Writing

Ungrateful Heir – Cover Design Process

A piece of short fiction I wrote recently titled “Ungrateful Heir” was about a person you might expect it to be about. He breaks into the family crypt and all kinds of heck goes down. Oh, and there is a cat as well. When approaching the cover, I wanted to make 3 things clear. The protagonist was…

  • Somewhere underground
  • In a place with dead people
  • Generally in a story book setting


Going into it, I searched google for some creative commons pictures. Again, I found what I was looking for in the Wikimedia Commons. Check it out if you have the chance. Next to Flickr Creative Commons, it’s on my top 10 list for royalty free image resources.

At any rate, this image above is a royalty free image depicting an old crypt. I didn’t much like the idea of the two people on the left, but I did like the body on the right and the vertical design of the book cover made that work well.

I used an old swirly type font that I used in another medieval sort of story and it worked for the piece. The white text didn’t appear to conflict with the grains of the photograph much at all. The columns in the middle of the original picture made good borders and the body was recognizable, even in the thumbnail.

However, I didn’t like the red color scheme and I generally like to alter the original picture a little if I can help it. I enjoyed the fact that it looked good on its own, but I didn’t feel right leaving it to dry.

So, I did a color shift. A slight hue shift and a levels touch up. Give a splash of blue overlay and…

Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out the best that it could. As is often the problem with a hue shift, each color moves over on its own individual color wheel. In complex scenes involving distant or specific colors, this can lead to the whole image looking off. I definitely didn’t want the lights casted on blue surfaces to give off a purple hue. This meant that any hue shift had to be more subtle. It was time to go back to the original book cover and do a minor hue shift and levels tweak.

The result is what you see below. I took a minor shift and turned my reds to yellows. Everything remains in working order and the image is undamaged. So, to recap…

  • I get to keep my dead body
  • I get to keep my tomb
  • And the image still gets to be altered



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