A cover for Melange Books. For this cover, we wanted to have the dark color scheme while keeping the cover light enough that the colors wouldn’t go to black in the print version. So I created the basic scene first, then played with multiple color options once those basics were in place. For the castle’s glow, I masked out all the windows, then tinkered with the lighting on layers below the castle layer. Once I had the light source, I added ‘soft light’ and ‘overlay’ layers over the castle layer. I typically use dark blue/purple for shadows, and yellow for highlights.
The proof version was fairly blurry, due to using comp images. Comp images are handy when you’re trying to see if the idea will work or not. When I created the near-final, I smoothed out the blending and adjusted how strong the gaussian blur was on the background layers, thus making it considerably sharper. Once you have the full-sized stock images, it becomes much easier to smooth out edges and see how sharp it will really go.
For the back cover, I stepped back several layers, removed the man and castle, adjusted my retouch layers, then flipped the merged image horizontally. This is the result:
Stock images from Dreamstime: