How to Create a Book Cover Design

Let’s create a striking history book cover about antique war stories with the Hard to Kill Vector Pack

How to Create a Book Cover Design

Well hello there dear readers! Simon here, ready to walk you through my process to create a striking book cover with our latest vector pack release, the hard to kill vector pack. We’ll look at the pack elements, how to pick, choose, and arrange them to craft a design.

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The brief

Our role today is to create a book cover for a collection of ancient warrior stories. The collection includes stories from antique Athens and Sparta. We’ll need to have a good centerpiece graphic element, as well as include the two parts title: “Ancient warrior stories – Vol. 01: Athens & Sparta.”

Building our concept

While the pre-made designs included in the pack are striking, they don’t quite fit the intent. They are more suited for apparel applications.

We need something striking, but less focused on a lettering element, and more on a visual element. The Spartan helmet will do just fine for that.

The shield will provide a good supporting visual element to anchor the helmet in the frame.

The two circular frames elements will provide additional ornamentation.

We’ll probably add another thing here and there, to tie everything together, but these will be the core of our piece. We’ll also use League Spartan, from the League of Moveable Type, to set our title.

Oh, and for the color scheme? We’ll stick to the white/dark gray/light gray of the pack itself. It’ll challenge us to keep things efficient to maintain legibility, and impact.

Let’s get this show on the road

Step zero: document setup

We’re working on a book cover, assembled from vector elements. We’ll work in Illustrator, in a 6″x9″ format. Note that the color mode has been switched to RGB, to match the color mode of the vector assets.

Step one: background elements!

That one is easy. We need to create a rectangle in a dark gray (#231f20) that covers the whole canvas.

Step two: the warrior helmet and shield

Let’s start with the helmet. Let’s paste it at the center of our document (X: 3″, Y: 4.5″), sized at 4.5″ wide. Let’s reflect it on a vertical axis so it “looks” to the right (right click > Reflect).

Let’s remember to organize/rename our layers, and groups, right away to keep our document clean.

Let’s add the whole shield element (including pattern) into our document. It should be pasted behind the helmet, centered in the document, and sized at 4.9″ wide.

Once the shield properly in placed, we need to adjust the color of its background fill to match the color of our document’s background color (#231f20). The shape in question is the black path at the bottom of the group.

Here’s the result after a quick shot of the eyedropper tool (I).

We’re moving forward, nicely, but the shield’s pattern showing through the helmet’s open areas creates visual tensions. To remedy that, we are going to create a background fill shape by using offset path. With the helmet highlighted, let’s head to Object > Path > Offset path. The dialog box will allow us to create the shape that matches the helmet with an extra 0.25″ added to its edges. Note the round joins for a softer feel.

The function creates a new path, that is the same color than the one used a base. We need to change the color of that path to our background color as well (#231f20).

With that done, and with some layer clean-up later, this is where we’re at.

Step three: the circular frame elements

Adding these in is nothing trickier than giving them their own layer, proper size, and proper order. Let’s start with the more complex of the two, with the pointy elements.

After creating a layer for them placed below the helmet and shield one, it needs to be pasted in centered, and sized at 6.383″ wide.

The second frame is to be pasted behind the first one, centered, and sized at 7.25″ wide.

The various black areas of that second frame need to be changed to our background color (#231f20).

Step four: the text

Adding the text is a walk in the park, thanks to the type on a path tool. Let’s start by creating a centered circle with a diameter of 7.65″ in a new layer.

We’re typing our first part of the title (“ANCIENT WARRIOR STORIES”) on that circle. It’s set in white-colored League Spartan, sized 18 points tall, centered, and tracked at 250.

After creating a second circle, we can add the second part of our title (“VOL. 01: ATHENS & SPARTA”).

The issue we have is the alignment of the text object on its circular path.

The good news is that after double-clicking on the type on a path tool icon in the main toolbar…

….we get access to this option panel, that allows us to change the alignment to ascender, which in turns makes things look a lot better.

With that done, we’re almost done with our cover, as the main elements are in place.

Step five: some fluff for good measure

While our cover’s main elements are in place, the corners are slightly empty at the moment. It can give the impression that our content is floating in the middle of the page. Let’s add some corners elements to visually close the frame around the center piece. The corners of this element will do.

After ungrouping the piece/releasing the compound path, we’ll be able to select the corners in question separately from the rest.

After a bit of clean-up, and selective grouping, we obtain each individual corner element.

They should be pasted at 0.25″ in each direction of the corners, and sized at 1″ wide.

And because we’ve properly named our layers/vector objects, this is what our file organization looks like.

Step six: leveraging our texture library to add a final layer of substance to the mix

To properly wrap this piece up, we are going to add three textures to it to give it some “meat.” First, let’s save a high resolution PSD file of our piece (File > Export > Export as). Note the checked Use artboard box, to trim the elements that are outside the bounds of our canvas.

A few technical notes and reminders

As we embark on the texture side of things, it’s a good time to remember a few base rules, and processes:

  1. Don’t know what a clipped layer is? Glad you asked! This means that the layer is only visible/applies to the layer directly below it. You can very quickly do this by holding ALT down on your keyboard and clicking between the two layers. Here’s a quick demonstration.
  2. Every time we’ll work with textures, we’ll follow this simple process: place as smart object, sharpen1, desaturate, enhance contrast with levels, and modify the blending mode.
  3. Placing the textures as smart objects, and using adjustment layers to tweak them, allows us to stick to a non-destructive workflow. We’ve explored in depth the numerous pros and few cons of such a workflow in this past tutorial: “How to Use Textures The Right Way.”

Notes: 1 – accessed through the Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen menu.

Let’s start with a texture from our vintage paper texture, vol. 01 set.

The texture is vintage-paper-textures-volume-01-sbh-001.jpg.

It’s placed in our PSD file as a smart object, sized up to 165%, rotated 90°, and sharpened.

After being desaturated with a clipped hue/adjustment layer, we’ll be enhancing its contrast with a clipped levels adjustment layer.

And after changing the texture’s blending mode to soft light @ 75% opacity, we’re achieving the first part of our texture effect.

Next is a vignette. I strongly recommend using this lossless vignette technique, found via Design Panoply (#6). The color of my shape layer is our trusty dark gray, #231f20.

Note the 150 pixels feathering value.

After changing the vignette shape blending mode to soft light @ 50% opacity, our effect is achieved.

The last texture we’ll add to the piece is from our photocopy noise texture set.

The texture is the first one in the pack, photocopy-noise-textures-001-sbh.jpg.

That texture is placed centered, and sized up to 100%.

We’re using levels to make the white specks of dust really “pop.”

The result, after changing the texture’s blending mode to screen @ 100%, is quite satisfactory.

And here’s a last look at our layer palette in Photoshop.

Let’s wrap this party up!

Phew, we’re all done! Look at this cover. Let’s mock it up for the client presentation.

I hope that you enjoyed following along the tutorial as much as I enjoyed creating it, and that your outcome matches the goals you set for yourself before diving in.

Did I leave anything unclear? Any suggestions? Don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments below! I’ll be happy to help.

The hard to kill vector pack is now available! Go grab it! If you already have, I hope you enjoy it, and that this tutorial gave you a sense of what you’ll be able to accomplish with it.

Purchase the Pack

And on that note, I’ll see you next time. Cheers!

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Graphic Design Bundle

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Free Feminist Vector Pack on Go Media's Zine by Shelby Criswell

Celebrating International Women’s Day with our Free Feminist Vector Pack!

Download our Free Feminist Vector Pack!

It’s International Women’s Day, which means it’s time to “celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women” – which we should be doing every day if you ask us. But the fact that women get this extra special day is pretty awesome anyway, so we’ll take it! We wanted to do something special today, so we are releasing a Free Feminist Vector Pack by one of our favorite female designers!

This pack is totally free and totally awesome, so we hope you enjoy it.

The Feminism Vector pack was created by Shelby Criswell, an independent comic book maker, trouble starter, freelance illustrator, and bluegrass lovin’ dork (her words!) straight outta San Antonio, TX that loves to play around with funky linework and strange fonts. Shelby is an artist who creates a lot of cool products for us for our Arsenal, home of the best vectors, textures, mockups, and tutorials in town.

Hey, speaking of awesome women, do us a favor and give Shelby credit for being a kick-ass female…

[Tweet “Hey @shelby_criswell, You’re the coolest! Thanks for the Feminist Vector Pack!”]

Now, onto Shelby’s Feminist Vector Pack – go download and do great things!

Download >> Go Media’s Feminist Freebie Pack

Free Feminist Vector Pack

Freebie of the Day: Free Lotus Vectors

Free Lotus Vectors

Our freebie of the day is a pack of free lotus vectors! We hope these three free vectors take you to your happy place today. Download them here, then head to our Arsenal for more great royalty-free elements. Love  our vectors? Gain access to all of them, 24/7, when you subscribe to our Arsenal Membership. Our Arsenal Membership is only $15/mth and affords you access to our entire product library, our community and every single new product as they are released.

Download our: Lotus Freebie from your friends at Go Media

Free Lotus Vectors

Free Skull Vector Download

Free Skull Vector Download

Download Free Stock Vectors & How to Use Them PDF

Download: Free Stock Vectors Guide & Freebies

Go Media’s vectors are known industry-wide as being the best of the best. We have thousands of these hand-crafted illustrations (all royalty-free) for you to use in your own design work. But not everyone knows how to work with them. So, if you need assistance using them, we’re here to help!

Free Constellation Vectors

Download of the Day: Free Constellation Vectors

Free Constellation Vectors

Join us every Thursday, when your friends here at the Arsenal take over the Go Media blog to share insights, tips, freebies or other fun to brighten your work day.

Today we’re releasing a pack which includes free constellation vectors.

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Scatter Brush Free

Download of the Day: The Birds Scatter Brush Freebie

The Birds Scatter Brush Free

Join us every Thursday, when your friends here at the Arsenal take over the Go Media blog to share insights, tips, freebies or other fun to brighten your work day.

Today we’re sharing a birds scatter brush freebie inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds and using goods from our Horror Vector Pack! Check out the Arsenal for more design elements known the ’round the world for being the best of the best.

Love our products? Access our huge product library ($11k in resources) and exclusive content for only $15/mth. Yes, seriously. Learn more now.

Here’s what you get:

  • 8 Bird Scatter Brushes for AI
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Birds Scatter Brush Freebie

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Have a great day, everyone!

Hero Image Photo Credit: Mark Sebastian: One Crow Left of a Murder on Flickr

Download of the Day: Abstract Grunge Vector Box Freebie

Abstract Grunge Vector Box Freebie

Join us every Thursday, when your friends here at the Arsenal take over the Go Media blog to share insights, tips, freebies or other fun to brighten your work day.

Today we’re sharing some hand drawn, abstract grunge vector box freebies for downloading and enjoying immediately! Check out the Arsenal for more vectors known the ’round the world for being the best of the best.

Abstract-Black-Box-Preview

Did you know that all of Go Media’s vectors are royalty free? We have thousands of hand-crafted illustrations like these you can use in your work, so definitely head over to the Arsenal to check them out.

Love our products? Access our huge product library ($11k in resources) and exclusive content for only $15/mth. Yes, seriously. Learn more now.

Here’s your download >> Abstract Grunge Vector Box Freebie

Have a great day, everyone!

free vintage sunbeam vectors

Download of the Day: Vintage Sunbeam Vectors

Download of the Day: Free Vintage Sunbeam Vectors

Join us every Thursday, when your friends here at the Arsenal take over the Go Media blog to share insights, tips, freebies or other fun to brighten your work day.

Today we’re sharing four vintage sunbeam vectors we created exclusively for you!

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Download them now, enjoy them forever.

Here you go: Vintage Sunbeam Vectors

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For the World’s Best Design Weaponry, head to Go Media’s Arsenal.

The Arsenal is a collection of design resources created and curated by the design team at Go Media. Go Media started releasing its collection of royalty free stock vectors in 2006 and has since expanded into providing a variety of different resources for the graphic designer, illustrator, and entrepreneur.

To put it simply, every designer has an Arsenal of goodies they stash on their hard drive. These goodies might include several gigabytes worth of textures, vector illustrations, mockup templates, fonts, ebooks, etc. A personal library of go-to resources to aid in a creative and efficient design process.

Customers who use our products enjoy saving time and money while still looking good. We are OBSESSED with helping out our fellow designers and will stop at nothing to provide you with the tools you need to make design fun.

Complete Halftone Collection

If you’re halftone-obsessed, our new collection is for you.

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We’re not sure what’s dreamier than a halftone. The tiny dots that create a gradient-like effect can produce such remarkable results.

Here at the Arsenal, we have nine packs that will give you the effect you’re after without the effort. Download them all in this complete collection – originally $105 – now only $27!

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What’s Included?

complete halftone collection

complete halftone collection

complete halftone collection

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All of the packs you see here are also available for individual purchase.

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free heart vectors

We Heart You: A Valentine’s Vector Freebie

Free Heart Vectors

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and we just can’t help but to feel warm and fuzzy. We love our community, after all. Your support and enthusiasm makes our jobs way too much fun!

We wanted to show our appreciation with some love today – in the form of 10 free heart vector elements. They beat only for you <3

Download them now > Go_Media-Hearts_You

Free Heart Vectors

how to use an opacity mask in illustrator

Try this Opacity Mask Tip with your New Vector Brushes for a Tattered, Torn Effect

How to Use an Opacity Mask in Illustrator (A Newbie’s Guide)

Hey Fans of Go Media’s Arsenal, the best resources for designers on the planet. We’re here for a quick guide to using your new Brink Design Co. Industrial Vector Brushes, just released a day ago! These 100 handmade vector brushes were created with an unparalleled level of detail, made using a variety of different mediums and techniques to give your work that dirty, grungy, industrial look so many of you, our loyal customers, have been requesting.

Hop on this train, as the pack is 21% off through Monday, December 21st. And these vector brushes are exclusive to the Arsenal, so you won’t find this detailed work elsewhere

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Now, let’s get to the tip!

Skill Level: Newbie
Tools Needed: Cool Illustration, Brink Design Co. Industrial Pack and Adobe Illustrator

1. Install your Brink Design Co. Industrial Pack Vector Brushes (or, as I like to call, 100 handmade brushes from the heavens)
Instructions are included with the pack.

what's-included

2. Open your illustration in Adobe Illustrator. We chose this cute little monster guy.

Untitled-1

3. Start going crazy with some brush strokes. This is the fun part. Soak it all in.

Untitled-2

4. Group your brush strokes all together. Ensure that your monster is left out of the mix.

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5. Object > Expand Appearance

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6. Using your Pathfinder Tool (Window > Pathfinder), select the first option – Merge

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7. “Control C” to copy this element. Next, go into your Transparency Window. From the drop-down, select “Make Opacity Mask”

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8. Click on the small black box within the window.

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9. Click “Invert Mask” and BOOM.

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10. Click on the masked area if you’d like change where your mask is placed.

Untitled9

11. You’re done! We hope you’ve enjoyed this tip. Make sure to pick up the Brink Design Co. Industrial Pack and create something great everyday.

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Grab This Macabre Vector Freebie

Grab This Macabre Vector Freebie

When asked what you wanted to see next on the Arsenal, our e-commerce site for the best design resources in the world, you told us, overwhelmingly:

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And we want to give you what you want. So today, we’re hooking you up with a Macabre Vector Freebie, just in time for the Halloween holiday.

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The Macabre Vector Freebie includes the following 8 vector elements:

  • Bloody Saw Blade
  • Detached Ear
  • Mangled Hand
  • Murder Cleaver
  • Murder Knife
  • Nail in Tongue
  • Possessed Baby Doll
  • Tooth and Pliers

We hope you use it find it useful every day of the year.

Included:

Macabre-Preview

For more horror, visit the Arsenal. Check out our newest vector pack release, the Zombie Faces Vector Pack, as well as all of our Horror Packs.

Zombie-Faces-Vector-Pack-Zine-Hero-Image

Shop the Arsenal

You’ll Die Over These Zombie Vector Elements!

Zombie Vectors

“Zombies,” you screamed! “Give us zombies!”

Well, here they are!

Cleveland Heights artist Justin Will is trick and treating us to a delightfully devilish vector pack, filled with 13 elements perfect for the Halloween holiday. But, let’s admit it, we’re alright using them in our work every day of the week.

The Zombie Faces Vector Pack features 13 individual vectors created exclusively for the Arsenal. Royalty free and completely scalable, use these one of a kind elements in a project requiring that extra kick of character.

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Check out these 13 awesome elements!
Check out these 13 exclusive elements!

Go Get Those Zombies!

augmented reality tutorial

From Vector to Augmented Reality: A New Tutorial from Go Media’s Arsenal

Vector to Augmented Reality Tutorial

You asked, we answered! This all new, in-depth tutorial answers a question asked of us often here at Cleveland creative agency Go Media: “How do you create those awesome vectors?”

We’re answering that and a whole lot more, as in this two part video tut we’re teaming up with Photonic Creative Studio, a Cleveland-based company that specializes in 3D graphics, for an incredible project based on our vectors, known industry wide for being the best of the best.

If you were at our design conference, Weapons of Mass Creation Fest 6, you may have seen Photonic Creative Studio’s awesome augmented reality photo booth.

After receiving lots of interest, we decided to make a vector to augmented reality tutorial that shows how the 3D-modeled art weapons were created, specifically the futuristic x-acto knife. The process begins with one of the top questions we are asked at Go Media, “How do you create those awesome vectors?”

xacto-knife11crispybig

This tutorial begins with conceptualization, sketch and the creation of our vectors and then turns it over to Photonic, who imports the illustration and creates the 3D model in Maya. The result is remarkable; the process is captivating and tons of fun.

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Here’s what’s included:

preview-1

Sketch to Vector

Go Media’s Arsenal designer Jordan Wong will walk you through how he created the illustration of the futuristic x-acto knife. Beginning with the process of conceptualization and gathering references to work from, Part I will offer an inside look at how the original sketch was made as well as the steps of bringing the drawing into the computer via scanning. After a detailed walkthrough on turning the drawing into a vector in Illustrator, the segment will end with an overview of the finished diagram that was used to create the 3D model. (57 minutes)

preview-2

Vector to Augmented Reality

Ian Zeigler, the founder of Photonic, uses Autodesk Maya to import Jordan’s illustration and create the 3D model. This segment will kick off with basic navigation of Maya’s interface, including an explanation of tumbling, zooming, and basic hotkey modifiers. Ian will cover importing, rotating and scaling the image to fit the needs of the modeling phase. You will also learn about polygon modeling and the tools used, like extrude, move and scale, to bring form to the model. The tutorial will conclude with assigning basic materials, colors and textures, as well as the basic outputs for rendering, game-engine, or 3D print. (2 hours, 57 minutes)

preview-3

Resources Included

The tutorial includes:

  • Introduction Video
  • Step-by-step instructional videos (qty 6) outlining the process of taking a drawing from paper to vector, and from Illustrator to Maya. (3 hours, 55 minutes of content!)
  • Full working files of the example art weapons!

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Vector to Augmented Reality Tutorial