Writer made artwork discussion

Continuing the discussion from over on the Falrika thread as it was getting a little off topic for anyone who would like to, how and why do you make your own cover art? What sites or programs do you use? What do you think makes for good promotional art?

To start, here’s a list I put together a while back of some free and paid stock sites: Stock art sites

Adding suggestions from @ChanceOfFire with:


I’ve always gone with commissioned artists in the past, but for my newest story, Meteoric, I’m actually creating my own art. This one is mostly done but needs some touching up. I used a combination of a photo I took, the photo editor Pixlr, and a free font website.


I use canva (and the same color scheme apparently) to make headers and banners for the books. I guess I like how I can make the art personalized to the vibe of the book I’m going for. Indiana Jones type adventure vs a Persian inspired fantasy.


I just draw my own - or at least try to, haven’t managed to get a satisfying result yet - (although given how this topic spawned from discussion on how to make cover art without having to do so, that probably isn’t very helpful or not necessarily even on topic) because maybe then I can figure out if I have an impostor syndrome or if I’m just bad. :laughing:


I use Paint.NET as it’s free and still fairly powerful, while being much more beginner-friendly than GIMP.

Actually, for a really simple noob technique for writers who are absolutely hopeless with using image editing software, you can simply copy a photographic image (taken by yourself or downloaded from a stock site), and apply an ink sketch or oil paint effect over it, using the software. To create some nice stuff, you’ll need to experiment with other techniques such as shadows and layers, but this is serviceable for making something which “looks” hand drawn and reasonably attractive.

This took me about two minutes.


I like to use Canva for headers, also used it for the cover/dashpic as I like that you can use keywords to search based off the “vibe” of a font, if that makes sense. I feel like I found the perfect font for my WIP because of it: Chapbook


Also should be noted that I do commission art for my project, as seen here. While making your own art/cover is a completely legit and valid way to do it, I felt I had the means for it so I went for an artist on fiverr


You can do a lot with a couple of stock photos, and spend a lot of time fluffing about with it and hand painting in things and using brushes for effects (Like I did with wizardy level c which took me quite a while). But you can also do quite a bit with more “basic” manips but it’s good to get a program that will let you use layers if you want to do anything more than applying titles and filters. (It takes practice and can be a bit fiddly but if you like creating your own stuff it can be worth it.)

Just pulling some examples from my stuff (I’m not a professional artist by any means, I’m just using mine because I know how they were made and have a whole lot of mini projects with images kicking around :D) :

Most basic- Get a stock photo. Add a title. Apply minor adjustments (crop, add a filter, change the colours/contrast/colourize etc). :slight_smile: Simple, easy can be fairly effective with the right photo and totally acceptable as cover art.

As a next step out, use layers to change the way the title looks. For example this one from memory has the title not set to 100% opacity and also uses an “overlay” layer with the title to help show through the colours underneath so fits in with the rest of the image better.

More difficult. (Layer effects and multiple images!)
Take more than one photo, merge them together (can take some practice to learn out to do this and a good photo editing program helps as you may need to do stuff like cutting out images, blurring in backgrounds, adjusting colours, using paint to shade or draw in effects etc). They can take a very long time to make, but you can also keep it more simple.

For example this one’s an old fan arti-sh one I did for a WIP here that didn’t take me all that long. It’s basically a stock photo of a face with a black background cropped in half and the colours adjusted to pull it more into the red-orange-ish hues to match the theme of fire. Extended the black background out to the left. Used a bit of clone and stretch/skew on the hair, to pull it outwards, partially erased the end of the hair so I could merge it into the fire effect. Added another layer or two with a fire image (I think it looks like at least one layer set on overlay which if how you get that “glowy” semi transparent effect on the face) and stretched/skewed that until I was happy with how it was sitting on the image. From memory I used a “colourize” layer to change the eye colour by painting over it to make it into the colour I wanted without changing the details underneath. Add a title on partial transparency and an overlay layer. (If it’s not clear enough with just the title on overlay, put the title on a “normal layer” on really low transparency (may be less than 10% in some cases) then put a second copy of the title in an “overlay” layer over the top). Put a star shape (also with a layer overlay) so it shows though.

Sounds a lot more complicated, but once you get the hang of how the different types of layers work, they can be done “relatively” quickly. Does take more practice and having the right images to work with though.


I’ve a bit of time. I’ve just created some simple coverart in honor of the latest WIP I’ve played. @Dan_Rasmussen no pressure, life gets busy.



Wow!!! That is so cool! Do you mind if I put that in the start of the demo?

1 Like

:grin: Be my guest

1 Like

Photopea is an online editor similar to Photoshop.


My favourite are free vintage illustrations. You can combine that with a lovely font and with some adjusting you can make a very nice cover :+1:

Free resources:

Fonts, including free ones or for personal use


Free textures and brushes:

How to Install and Use Photoshop Brushes in GIMP
Free Photoshop Brushes at Brusheezy!

Free images:

Welcome to FreeVintageIllustrations.com - Free Vintage Illustrations
Heritage Library | Free Vintage Illustration | Heritage Type Co

Free Text Effects for 2024 (New Updated) - Resource Boy
Free vectors images graphic art design download 254,445 files in editable .ai .eps .svg .cdr
80 Free Smart Easy PSD Text Effects by symufa on DeviantArt

Free 3D models:

Log in to your Sketchfab account - Sketchfab


I understand many people here are looking to save money but for the best results it’s important to have experience - the best option remains to find a graphic designer/illustrator friend and pay them.


That Planetfall image is great, where it’s from?


I can’t find the original image (it was public domain so for some reason I didn’t write the web address down). I’m fairly sure it’s one of NASA’s public domain images, they have some awesome stuff. Here’s another similar one :slight_smile:


The only issue I have with free pictures that you can use, is the Limitation of…say like ‘Can’t find what you are looking for’.

And there are so many! You would think I would’ve found what I wanted? nope.

Well sort of…

Still…nothing beat doing it yourself if you can, or hire someone I guess.


Wow haven’t seen this before and it’s quite similar to photoshop. Just had a quick look and it seems to work very well for a free editor and it more user friendly than the alternatives I’ve seen. Wish they did a downloadable version. (I’m always a little worried when working with online editors if my internet glitches then you loose the work. But it’s free so save often and it’d be a good alternative.)

Downloadable alternatives to photoshop include GIMP (haven’t used it for a while. Has a lot of stuff but not the most user friendly unless it’s changed so has a but of a learning curve). I’ve also heard people say some good things about Krita but haven’t used it myself but also free.

1 Like

I use canva for my chapter covers. Though I am planning on changing that and doing my own cover. Using the sites others showed! :wink:

I look for a suspense kinda thing, cause my WIP is related to spy’s.

EDIT: Just made another!


I like the black one, very silky…very smooth.


You can download it as a PWA (progressive web app), but only with Chrome, I think. Once you access the site, there should be a download/install icon on the address bar.


I just noticed the big ass Install button on the front page. :joy: Again, but only on Chrome! (I checked!)

1 Like

Ohhh, thanks for that! I looked at it in firefox and didn’t see a download button.

1 Like