This cover (for Melange Books) one was an example of where having masked layers and the auto-align tool in Photoshop CS6 can be useful. This particular cover was comprised of 13 stock images in total, with a few of them being used more than once in various places across the manipulation (the explosion was made larger/smaller, flipped, and masked in different portions to create the multiple explosion effects). Not only that, but the two people were comprised of seven images, in order to create the pose that was requested. Made it really handy to have all the pieces in place, so all I had to do was replace the stock proof images with the full-sized ones (adjusted with auto-align, of course). My proofs tend to look fairly close to the final image, but not as smooth/retouched.
One part of this particular cover I wasn’t looking forward to finalizing was replacing all the little bullet holes with their full-sized stock image. However, once I got to looking closely (and tested placing the full-sized image), I realized I didn’t need to. The small size and texture affects rendered the slight watermark running through the particular bullet hole unnoticeable. So while the publisher picked up the stock for licencing reasons, I didn’t actually replace that particular stock image. Something handy to keep in mind when finalizing parts of covers that have a strong illustrated tendency to them (just don’t forget to purchase the original stock image).
This is the result:
Stock images from Dreamstime: