How to Design a Romance Book Cover

What You’ll Be Creating

Romance books are infamous for their corny covers. Such a cover shouts in your face that the book is all about passion.

What You Will Need

You will need the following resources in order to complete this project:

  • Couple
  • Background
  • Rose petals
  • Font

1. Prepare the Workspace

Step 1

First, download the assets. We’re going to need a photo of the couple, a background, some flower petals for decoration, and a distinctive font for the title.


Step 2

Open Photoshop and create a New File. There are many formats for book covers, but B-format is among the most popular, so let’s try this one. Make the image 129 mm wide and 198 mm high. If you want the cover to be suitable for print, use a resolution of 300 DPI and CMYK color mode.

create new document

Step 3

Use the Crop Tool (C) in the Rule of Thirds view. Then press Control-R to show the rulers and drag them to the lines. This way, you’ll create your own rule of thirds grid. You can turn its visibility on and off by using the Control-; shortcut.

rule of thirds mode
create rule of thirds grid

2. Add the Photos

Step 1

The workspace is all set up, so now we can add the photos. Go to File > Place and select the photo of the couple. Align it with the grid. In the rule of thirds, the areas of focus should be near where the lines cross.

add photo of the couple

Step 2

Use your favorite selection tool to select the outline of the couple. Then go to Select > Refine Edge. Check Smart Radius and use the Refine Radius Tool (E) to paint over the edge. This will help you get some hair back into the selection without adding the background. You can also adjust the edge for the best effect. When you’re done, set the Output to Layer Mask and click OK.

select the outline
refine edge
select hair

Step 3

Place the background image into the scene, below the couple layer. Resize it to fill the canvas and move it so that it doesn’t interfere with the foreground.

add the background

3. Adjust the Photos

Step 1

The photos are all there, but they don’t look that good together yet. Let’s work on that! Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Adjust the Radius to make the background seem more distant.

add gaussian blur
blur the background

Step 2

Go back to the couple image and apply a Gaussian Blur to it as well. Then click on the Smart Filter mask and paint with a soft, black brush to reveal the faces.

addd gaussian blur to couple
blur the couple

Step 3

Press Control-G to place the layer into a group. This will allow you to add another Layer Mask to it. Paint on this mask with a soft, black brush to blend the lower part of the photo with the background.

group the layer
blend the photo with the background

Step 4

Let’s adjust the colors now. Add a Selective Color adjustment. Clip it to the layer below. Select Blacks and make them warmer by playing with the sliders. The point is to make the shadows more similar to the colors in the background.

add selective color
change the colors selectively

Step 5

The woman on the right is closer to the cooler colors of the background. We can accentuate this contrast by removing the warming effect of the Selective Color adjustment from her face.

paint on the mask
adjust mask of selective color

4. Add Decorative Petals

Step 1

Our cover looks quite good already, but we can make it even better with a certain accent. What do you say we add flower petals flowing across the cover?

Open the petals image as a separate file. Use the Magic Wand Tool (W) to select the white background, and then Invert the selection (Control-Shift-I) and refine the selection by selecting Refine Edge. Set the Output to Selection.

remove white background

Step 2

Copy the petals and Paste them into the main file. Place them in the lower part of the scene.

copy and paste petals

Step 3

To adjust them to the composition, select one of the petals, Copy it, and Paste it on the right. This will make the petals flow diagonally across the scene. Merge the petals by pressing Control-E.

add another petal

Step 4

The petals have their own shade of red, so we need to adjust it to the scene. Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment. Clip it and Colorize the petals.

add hue saturation adjustment
adjust hue saturation

Step 5

Now add a Levels adjustment. Clip it and drag the black marker to the right to increase the contrast of the petals.

add levels adjustment
adjust levels
adjust contrast of petals

Step 6

Group the petals and their adjustments. Then right-click > Merge Group.

group petals

Step 7

Let’s add some motion to the petals. They’re supposed to be flowing, after all! Go into Quick Mask Mode (Q) and paint with a big, soft brush over some petals.

select petals with quick mask

Step 8

Go out of the mode (Q), Invert the selection, and go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur. Select an Angle fitting the direction of the flow, and adjust the Distance.

add motion blur
make petals flowing

Step 9

Deselect (Control-D) and repeat the process, this time selecting a different area. Use a slightly different angle to make the effect more natural. Now it looks as if these petals were here from the start!

add motion to petals

5. Add Special Effects

Step 1

We’re almost done, but there are still a couple of things we can do to make the cover even more appealing. Let’s add a trendy bluish tint to the scene. Add a Photo Filter adjustment with a Blue filter.

add photo filter adjustment
dd blue filter

Step 2

Add a black and white gradient to the mask of the filter, to keep the top from being too blue.

add mask to filter

Step 3

Now, press Control-Alt-Shift-E to copy and paste the whole composition onto a new layer. Add a strong Gaussian Blur to it.

add gaussian blur to everything
blur the scene

Step 4

Hold Control and click the thumbnail of the layer to select it. Then go to Select > Transform Selection, and hold Alt to move the selection away from the borders.

select the edge

Step 5

Invert the selection and add a Layer Mask. Then add a Gaussian Blur to the mask. This will create a nice mist around the cover.

create outline on the mask
create blurry edge
blur the selection
create mist around edge

6. Add the Text

Step 1

For now, the cover looks just like a beautiful poster. Let’s add the text to turn it into a real book cover! Use the Type Tool (T) to add the title over the petals. I used the Rachelle font, white, with the first line of the title bigger than the second. You can adjust the settings in the Character panel to make the text look the best it can.

add title

Step 2

Select the text and the background layer. Align Horizontal Center.

align the text

Step 3

Add the author’s name on top. I used the Trajan Pro font, smaller than the title, and I colored it with the color of the woman’s shirt. Don’t forget to align it as well.

add authors name

Step 4

Let’s add a snippet of an encouraging opinion in the empty area of the background. It should be smaller, but still visible. The red color of the font links nicely to the warmth of the lower half of the cover.

add snippet

And the cover is done! Doesn’t it look beautiful? Now you can go and see how it will look in reality by using the Placeit book mockup generator.

create book cover mockup

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