Graphic Design / Interactive Design / Fine & Applied Arts / Parkland College

Graphic Design Exercises
Photoshop: Book Cover Layout


To learn Photoshop production techniques by example. To learn Photoshop filters, layer styles and adjustment layers by recreating the book cover below.


Low budgets sometimes requires Photoshop to become a photo studio. In this case, a three-dimensional object (the rosary) was scanned and placed on top of a computer-generated "canvas." By modeling the light on the canvas, one can achieve a "photographic" effect. With limited type elements, Photoshop can also act as a layout tool. In this case, the seemingly random placement of the type elements help create a poetic balance.


prep file

  1. download starter files
  2. launch Photoshop
  3. file > new "book.psd" (6x9 inches, 150 dpi, RGB)
  4. practice Adobe navigation keyboard shortcuts: space = hand; space+cmd = zoom in; space+cmd+opt = zoom out; cmd+zero = fit in window
  5. file > place "rosary.psd"
  6. save

laying out the cover

  1. copy and paste type from "book.txt" into 3 layers
  2. make type Adobe Garamond:
    • tagline: 8 pt, bold, tracking = 300
    • title: 30 pt, semibold italic, tracking = 150
    • author: 14 pt, regular, tracking = 450
  3. select "background" layer, new layer "canvas"
  4. edit > fill > 50% gray (not 50% transparency)
  5. filter > convert to smart filters
  6. choose default colors
  7. filter > filter gallery > sketch: conte crayon (texture = canvas, foreground = 11, background = 7, relief = 4, light = top left; scaling = 200%)
  8. filter > distort > shear
  9. make foreground color a tan color
  10. new adjustment layer (hue/saturation): colorize, adjust
  11. go to "rosary" layer, change layer mode from "normal" to "multiply"
  12. fine-tune layout

lighting the background

  1. zoom out
  2. go to quick mask mode; paint edges (300 blurred)
  3. filter > blur > gaussian blur (60); return to standard mode
  4. add new adjustment layer (levels) above "canvas" layer; make lighter
  5. new layer "shadow"
  6. make foreground color dark brown
  7. paint corners; make layer mode "multiply"; adjust opacity
  8. add layer style (drop shadow) to "silence" layer
  9. add layer style (color overlay): change type to red


  1. add your name and the exercise number on the PSD file
  2. layer > flatten image; image > mode > CMYK
  3. file > save as (format=JPEG; quality=10)
  4. open the JPEG in Photoshop and print a proof for grading
  5. file your graded proof in your Process Book for individual review

Last updated: 3/2/17 ■ Webmaster: Paul Young