Designing a book cover (erotica or general)

Hey folks – Happy New Year!

So I’m currently going through the final stages of the follow-up to Ridden by the Stallion, which should be available very soon.

One important stage, of course, is sorting out a cover. Now, in a different life I used to do basic computer art. I’ve also played around with artsy stuff for other purposes. I’m not a graphic designer, but I imagine there are few erotica-writers-slash-graphic-designers out there (and not many erotica-designers-with-graphic-designer-partners either).

With that in mind, I thought everyone might enjoy a quick runthrough of how I make covers. There are options out there to get them made for you, but I want to dispell any fears that cover design is beyond the average person.

Since the sequel is on the way, I’ll use Ridden by the Stallion as an example. Here’s the cover:


Yep, that’s definitely a saucy story about a man and a horse-shifter, there’s no way of denying it. In order to make sure it’s obvious, there are a few things the cover needed. Mainly a man and a horse.

First thing first – gather stock images. There are plenty of free, royalty-free (which means you don’t have to pay, and can use them for commericla use. And yes, this is commerical use, so don’t just steal images. That’s naughty (and not the good kind of naughty) and might get you in trouble) images out there on various sites. There are even more that you can pay to use.

Every couple of weeks I’ll scan the new uploads on free sites and snag the suitable images. So, when it came to man-and-horse, I was able to quickly compile a board of possible images:


Using Photoshop or GIMP, I plopped them all into a document and moved them around. Be open-minded, and just try to find something that looks aesthetically nice – balanced, suitable colours, and suggestive.

So, from this board, I slected the rearing horse and the man with the lightbulb for a head (I did say be open-minded).

I cropped the man’s head off using a fade. I felt the combination was a bit monochrome, so I cut the horse out from the background (magic wand or eraser) and decided to use the grass from the top right photo, as circled.


The great thing about layers and images and whatnot is that even though the man’s arm was still in the grass, I covered that up nicely with Mr Lightbulb-head.

The sky from the field photo wasn’t quite cloudy enough either, so another quick image search found me some clouds to bung behind the horse. It took about a minute more, but added so much depth to the cover.

Bung them together, and we get:


Add some text (Remember, white text with a black outline can be read on any colour background, though some darkening behind the text can still help), and we’re at the finished cover.

Once you get a bit of practice in, it becomes quite fast. Also, as much as I love using a graphics tablet, I don’t currently have one, and can testify that it’s all doable quickly with just a mouse and keyboard.

I hope this helps someone with their own cover art – happy designing, folks 🙂


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