For final print art I always stick with my desktop and powerful graphics applications, but for quick cover mock-ups (also called comps), I like to work on my phone. It’s convenient and I can fiddle with ideas anywhere, anytime. I get a lot of questions about my process, so I figured I’d go through a quick rundown of the apps I generally use.

For today’s tutorial we’ll be designing a comp for an exciting Orc Erotica novel titled Orc-Gasm: The Coupling by Rand E. Balzac. No, the novel doesn’t exist, nor does the author (and that’s probably for the best).

The first thing I do is search for art. I know for this cover I want an orc and a young woman. She’s a fiery red-headed college coed. More than a match for the Orc Chieftain who captured her after a freak accident in the university quantum lab sends her to a magical world in another dimension.

I like to start with, because the art is free for commercial use. Sometimes for comps I’ll just grab something off Google images, but if the client really likes the art I want to make sure I’m free to use it, so starting with art I know I can use is always a good idea.

So, we have a great background, a young woman, and a fierce orc. The woman isn’t a redhead, but we’ll take care of that later. The next thing we need to do is knock out the backgrounds on our heroes. I’ve found Adobe Spark Post to be the best at this. And it’s super easy. Import your image into Spark, and just click “Remove background.” Export it as a transparency and violà! No background.

Now I move into Photoshop Mix to create the composition.

Starting to look good. But we need a redhead. Easy enough. Export the composite and import to FaceApp. The Face Swap feature is really good. I also went back later and gave the orc a full beard in FaceApp, as you’ll see on the finished cover.

Next I want to give the art just a hint of texture, so it feels almost more like an oil painting. Prisma is great for this.

Now back to Photoshop Mix. I import the photos from FaceApp and Prisma, setting the blend mode on the latter to Luminosity. This brings out the original colors while preserving the brush-stroke effects from the filter.

Next I merge the layers and tweak the temperature, exposure, and contrast a little to make it pop just a bit more.

That’s looking great. Now for the book title. I personally use for font samples. These samples are free for non-commercial use, so they’re great for mock-ups, but remember to buy a license to the font if you’re going to use it in the final art for the book cover.

Save the generated image and import it into Photoshop Mix. Create a color layer and use the font PNG as a mask.

Now for some effects. I’m going to create three copies of the masked color layer. I’ll blur the bottom-most layer for a nice glow effect.

Next I merge the top two color layers to form a raster layer, which I apply the “Brighten” look to.

Then it’s just a matter of tweaking the exposure a little.

Looking good, but it needs a little something. Let’s mask the orc’s top-knot so it’ll stand out in front of the title.

Now it’s just a matter of creating the subtitle and author’s name, and presto, a mock book cover created entirely on my phone!

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