My fifth weekend book cover, and my second steampunk, is a novella from Sonya M. Shannon. She sent me a cover model and description, and I worked with the watermarked stock photo until we liked the results, in case it didn’t turn out to be worth the purchase.


The steampunk section of Amazon shows a lot of variety, but it’s very popular to have a figure on the cover (more full-length than busts, but I’ll take it) and it’s just about gospel to have foggy old London in the background, so I find a photo on Unsplash (where else?) that could probably pass. I do not know where this is actually a picture of, for the record.*

*SRRSkelley ID’d this as Charles Bridge in Prague!


I took quite a few wrong turns designing this, largely because I decided early it needed old-fashioned gold lettering, which is not at all where we ended up. Rather than waste a lot of time explaining all my wrong moves, let me just line ’em up.


The last one is what I passed to the author, who requested a few specific things.


Since this is a learning process, I tried nearly all of them to see if they worked, and they totally did. WELP.


One last pass used the high-quality unwatermarked cover, enlarged the first letter of the title, and corrected my embarrassing error in the subtitle. I like it!


For the purposes of this blog post, let me break down the layers and steps that went into this thing.

The figure was removed from its background and duplicated. The top layer was desaturated and set to low opacity, with the glasses erased. In a third, middle layer, I isolated the lenses and turned the hue to green. There’s a little black smoke over the bottom left of him.

The background was duplicated and pasted so I had more room to work, and turned green. There’s a fog overlay.

The title font is in white with a green grunge texture overlaid with low opacity; the first letter is enlarged. The author font is in dark green with the same grunge texture overlay. There’s a black gradient stripe behind the author name to help bring it out.

And a green grunge texture over everything except the subtitle, to help bring it out.


  • Kleymissky Medium Italic
  • Baskerville Old Face
  • Bentham



  • About twelve hours start to finish (lots of fiddling, and a lot of touchy work–special shout-out to those flowing locks)

See all my book cover designs here. Inquiries accepted.

I write fiction too!