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Designing Book Covers with Photoshop and Illustrator

  • Published on January 27, 2016
Designing Book Covers with Photoshop and Illustrator

Designing a book cover for a classic title to make it modern and compelling for readers is a big task. This is especially true for many classic books that pre-date digital publishing and often lack cover artwork and compelling designs that draw-in readers or help to promote a book title online. Even some of the most critically acclaimed and widely-read books are plagued with poor quality covers. As book cover art often provides the first introduction of a reader to a book title, they remain an important part of any book. For books that are out of print and only available digitally, a book cover is of critical importance to maintain continued interest in the book.

As many classic books have entered the public domain, the text has become available without any updates to the book cover art. A loosely affiliated group of designers at Creative Action Network have taken to modernizing the artwork used in book covers to create a more modern and inviting introduction to classic book texts. Artists working through Creative Action Network are taking many of the most popular books from Project Guttenberg and designing new cover art. Project Guttenberg publishes books that are no longer under copyright and makes them freely available in modern formats, and 100 of these books now have new cover designs.

Creating Book Cover Designs for eBooks

Creating book cover designs for ebook versions of classic books is the objective of a project launched by the Creative Action Network. A book cover design project started two years ago is an effort to create book covers for ebook versions of popular book titles from Project Guttenberg. Over 750 designers submitted new book cover artwork for the titles.

This book cover redesign project has been titled Recovering the Classics and example of the book cover artwork created with more modern tools such as Illustrator and Photoshop is the Pride and Prejudice book cover, designed by Alexis Lampley with the impressive peacock design. You can see this book cover and many others on the Creative Action Network site under the Recovering the Classics section.

Creating Book Cover Designs with Illustrator and Photoshop

The primary apps used for modern book cover designs are Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop. These digital design tools provide creative flexibility and control for a modern artist when designing a book cover. They also enable an artist to export their designs into a variety of file formats, and support fully scalable text. These apps produce artwork that works well on modern high-resolution reading devices such as the more modern iPads and Surface tablets from Apple and Microsoft, respectively. Artists that are looking to create modern book covers can learn Illustrator or take a Photoshop course in order to gain the skills needed for designing a book cover using these modern software apps.


About the author

 is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices. Jennifer holds the CPUX-F credential from the UXQB.

Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern UX Design, and worked closely with the Microsoft Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including XD, Sketch, Balsamiq, Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Blend for Visual Studio. She also works extensively in the fields of presentation design and visual design.