I recently wrote a contemporary fantasy about a modern age afterthought of dragons. Basically, dragons are dead and what little of them remains exists in human bloodlines. Called Draconic Ancestry, an individual may tap into that power of he or she has enough of it and gain feats particular to that heritage. Problem is, each generation dilutes the gene pool. Give humanity a few hundred years and dragons become little more than an afterthought.
For the cover art, I wanted something that looked ancient, so I found a public domain graphic from wikimedia commons. I usually grab four or five and then pick one, but this was the one I picked.
Not too bad of an image, but it needed some work. So, from here, I applied a couple of filters. I overlayed a tan color and used some more layers to create an aged effect that made the image appear like time had gotten to it. Creating this effect was the most difficult part of the process and I apologize for not having a step by step. Basically, it came down to tweaking the yellows and the types of layers, but the end result is the image you see here.
In Photoshop, one crucial layer property I used was I picked a gold hue and made that layer in the Hue Mode. This layer mode only exists in Photoshop to my knowledge, so if you are using Paint.net or GIMP, you may need to work at it a bit to get a similar effect.
From there, I needed to put up some text. I liked the calligraphy font and it seemed to go well with the aged paper effect that I was shooting for, but out of whim, I experimented with color and came to the finished product. The title and author name are in very dark calligraphic text, with the exception of the word “Blood”, which is a shade or red. I know, pretty cliche, but in the context, it seemed to work. Oh, and I also tweaked the levels and made the image darker.
I may do a future iteration of the cover just to get all the kinks out, but it can be read well in regular and thumbnail view and there are limitations when working with the current background image.