Illustrated Book Cover-Start to Finish

by CJ McDaniel // January 26  

We have a lot of people ask us about the process for illustrated book covers and how long it takes. So we thought we would take you through the process, one step at a time. The illustration below is for the fiction novel “The Second Before You Die,” by Musulyn Chenoweth.

Initially, we ask you to fill out a worksheet that has all the questions we need answered to begin on your cover. It is important to fill out the worksheet thoroughly, as any pertinent details left out could add days or weeks to the overall timeline if we are informed later in the project.

Once we have your answered worksheet we will begin a rough line sketch of your illustration. While lacking many details, the line sketch allows you to approve the initial concept and guarantee that we are headed in the right direction. You can expect the first sketch between 5 and 10 days. This is the absolute best place to bring up issues with specific objects, as it is relatively easy to fix at this stage. This is what the initial sketch looked like for “The Second Before You Die:”


The second sketch has much more detail and shading. This is the stage right before any coloring and can be expected about 5 days after the initial sketch:


If everything was on target with the second sketch you can expect a colorized version in less than a week:


At this point we are almost there, and after you give us the go ahead we will finish up the fine details and send you your finished illustration in a few days:


Once your illustration is all done we will begin work on placing the author name, book title and any other front cover text. If you don’t like our initial choice of text layout it is easy to change. This is the final step for the front cover, and at this stage you will receive a mock-up of your finished cover in book form to be used in any marketing efforts. illustrated-cover-5

Well that’s it! Illustrated covers are a great option for fiction novels and are usually completed in 4 to 6 weeks. If you are interested in having us illustrate your cover, contact us at our book cover design page.

Here are some other beginning sketches next to their final cover designs.

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About the Author

CJ grew up admiring books. His family owned a small bookstore throughout his early childhood, and he would spend weekends flipping through book after book, always sure to read the ones that looked the most interesting. Not much has changed since then, except now some of those interesting books he picks off the shelf were designed by his company!