Cover Design Tutorial #2 Image Backgrounds

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In this tutorial you’ll learn how to load an image into a layer in Photoshop as well as how to scale it to fit your design.

While gradients can be very nice as backgrounds for book covers, sometimes it’s nice to use an image. Here’s an example cover I designed that uses a single image on the cover with some simple typography effects to create an effective cover design:


Loading an image into a Layer

So how do you load an image into a layer? The first thing you need to do is make a new layer:

Select Layer->New Layer and the following box will appear. The only thing you need to do is give it name and click OK. You’ll now have a layer ready to contain any image you can load in.


Select File->Open


Browse to to the image that you want to load.

Once it’s loaded, click on the title bar of the image to make sure it’s selected. You can have multiple things open at once in Photoshop, so clicking on an item gives it focus. While an item has focus, the operations are only applied to item that has focus.

Select->All or Press Ctrl+A

Edit->Copy or Press Ctrl+C

Click on your “ecover design window”, then select the “Image” layer in the Layer window.

Select Edit-Paste or Press Ctrl+V

The image will now appear in the layer. You can now move the image around and scale it.

Moving the Image

Select the move tool on the toolbar by left clicking on it. This is the Icon at the top right of the tool bar that looks like an arrow with some cursor controls next to it. As a quick aside about Icon design this is a good example of useful meaningful Icon. Once this is selected (you know it’s selected because it will be highlighted in blue), you can left click and hold on the image in your Cover Window and drag the image around.

Scaling the image
So what do you do if the image is much too big and you need to make it smaller? The answer is to scale it down.
Select Image->Free Transform->Scale








If the image you have loaded in is much bigger than the size of your Window you won’t be able to see the scale controls. As a result you need to zoom out. Press Ctrl- (minus) multiple times to zoom out. Do this until you can see the little squares on the edge of the image boundary:

As we are using Free Transform, you can hold drag the left mouse button on any of the little squares on the boundary of the image. However, as we want to maintain the aspect ratio of the image image you need to hold the “Shift Key” at the same time as left click dragging in order to constrain the image proportions as you scale it. This is very important, as you do not want to distort the background image aspect ratio. Once you’ve scaled the image to the size that you want it, press enter. You can then press Ctrl+ to zoom back to 100% on your ecover design.

You can sometimes create quite stylish effects by only using part of the image on the cover:

If you’d rather watch a video of me showing how to do all this stuff please checkout the video below:


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