January 2014

How I Created the Cover for The Only Boy

// Author: Jordan Locke // 31 Comments

At the risk of demystifying the illusion, I’m going to reveal the process I went through while designing the cover for my novel. As I mentioned, I’m an artist by trade and went to school for graphic design.

For the longest time, when I thought of how the cover might look, I pictured rows of females and only one male. I drew this in Illustrator, a program for making line art and logos:

only boy cover1

The graphic image was too modern for a post-apocalyptic novel, and I thought a weathered look would give it the feel I was looking for. There were plenty of pictures of old paper on iStock to choose from. The textured type was created by heightening the contrast in Photoshop, selecting the fragments from the design and removing them. With the old paper added as a background, this is what the original design looked like:

only boy cover

I liked it well enough, but I figured adding an actual boy might give it a more human touch. I searched iStock again for a photo, but the boys were either too young or too old or not the look I’d envisioned. Then I found this guy:


In the beginning of the book, Taylor has a tan, but as you see, the boy in the photo is awfully pale. I tried darkening the skin, but he looked a bit odd, so I ended up deepening it and saturating it just a bit. This boy has hazel eyes, while Taylor has blue, so I changed the eye color and slightly enlarged them:

side by side

I needed a pair of hands, but the boy in the picture had them in his pockets, so I found a different iStock image of someone holding a piece of paper:

young man holding a blank billboard isolated on white background

I carefully cropped out the hands, adjusted the color to match and added them to the image. Finally, the background was changed to black (which involved a lot of masking). All in all, I’m happy with the result.


Tell me in the comment section: what do you think of the cover for The Only Boy?

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