The Making of a Cover – And a Question

I know next to nothing about cover art, how it is chosen, how people make it… nothing. I’m fascinated by the process, but I’m absolutely the most ignorant person ever. I’m trying to learn more. I’m a nerd like that.

Anyway, one thing about cover art that I’ve noticed is that covers are featuring more photographed models than I’ve seen before. Probably because of technology. It’s easier to add photos to covers, where when I started reading SFF, if a cover had a person on it, it was obviously drawn. That’s not a bad thing, and it is certainly a style that some authors and artists still stick with (and I tend to enjoy it when they do) but it seems like more and more publisher are veering away from that sort of title.


Well, over on Orbit there is a fascinating post (to me) about cover art and the process of making it. If you are interested in that sort of thing, check it out here.

Occasionally (okay, far more than “occasionally”) I will browse through Amazon to see what covers there are floating around in the ether. A few things I’ve noticed. Most romance covers have models on them (duh). More and more SFF books are going that direction (for examples of amazing covers featuring photographed people, look at the article I just linked to). I either love covers with photographed people on them, or I hate them.

Then, there’s the cover that is rather simple, doesn’t have much on it, but manages to pack a huge punch despite that.


The thing that I’m getting at is that cover art is changing, and I’m learning that I love the changes that I’m seeing. Once upon a time, most covers seemed dedicated to portraying an important scene in a book. I think many covers I see now or focused on presenting the overall tone and feeling of the book to readers, rather than displaying a scene from the plot.

I used to think that most SFF covers were moderately embarrassing, but now many of them are true works of art that pull a reader in rather than make them hide what they are reading. Yes, I realize that’s not true for all of them, but it is true for a vast majority of the covers I see. I’m very excited by the impressive artwork that is flooding the SFF scene these days, and I’m absolutely thrilled that publishers are taking advantage of the artists and technology that makes all of this possible.

So, all of that being said, do you enjoy these new-ish covers, or do you miss the Robert Jordan-esque covers? What are some of your favorite covers? 

4 Responses

  • Runalong

    The UK cover for Zoo City by Joey Hi-Fi and I like Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

    • I LOVE the cover for Blackbirds. LOVE. IT.

      • +1 for Joey Hi-Fi’s stuff. Blackbirds was phenomenal, just a shame that actual story wasn’t. If only there was some well-established proverb or saw warning of the dangers of associating book contents too closely with the covers…

        Back on topic, I tend to favour design over illustration. But illustration can be nice sometimes too. Basically I agree with Edna Mole – anything’s good as long as there are no capes. NO CAPES!

  • Oo, that is a great article! I have to admit that I actually have a hard time guessing if a cover is illustrated or photographed sometimes. I kind of like those the best too. I’m guessing that they start with a photo and then do some airbrushing on top of it to add that surreal feel. I find that sci-fi/fantasy covers generally appeal to me more when there is at least a little bit of illustration merged with a photo (or all illustration), since I like that “it’s not real, it’s better” feel :D. I like that they’re getting more character focused though. The Robert Jordan covers portray a scene as you said, but I love Kinslayer and Codex Born and Vessel, since they have that illustrated feel, but it’s portraying a bad-ass MC more than any specific scene.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.