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The Evolution of a Cover

by | Feb 16, 2021 | Uncategorized | 5 comments

Today, I’m handing over the blog to Andrew Dobell of Creative Edge Studios, the company I use to design all my covers. As anyone who has picked up one of my books will know, Andrew is an insanely talented designer, and when he said he’d like to do a post about how we develop the DCI Logan covers, I jumped at the chance.

So, take it away, Andrew!


Hi, fans of J D Kirk/Barry. I’m Andrew, the cover artist for the DCI Logan series of novels. We recently thought that you might appreciate a little insight into the cover creation process and the work that goes into creating these artworks. 

For this, I chose to go with the cover to A Snowball’s chance in Hell. 

Whenever it’s time for a new cover, Barry/JD will get in touch, and we’ll usually start by discussing the ideas Barry has. I always like to know what the Author is thinking when I take on a commission, as they typically have an idea. 

Sometimes, they don’t, and they’ll ask for my input, in which case I usually ask what the story is about and go from there. 

For this one, Barry suggested a sinister forest, with snow and a snowman. One of the issues with thrillers covers can be that we need to stay away from anything that’s too much like a horror cover yet often still show something creepy and unsettling. 

Barry suggested bloody footprints too, leading up to the snowman, and we bounced some other ideas around too, such as a present or fairy lights, or something else Christmassy or wintery.

Once we’d settled on the basic idea, we went looking for stock images. 

I often use a lot of stock photography in my covers, so we got what we needed, and I went to work. 

The main program I use for my cover work is Photoshop, and I’ve been working with that program for years now. It’s a fantastic tool, and I couldn’t do covers without it. That said, there are way more options available for those who prefer not to pay Adobe a subscription than there used to be. 

I’ve also recently started to learn and use some 3D software. The results of that learning have begun to appear in my more recent covers, including at least one Logan cover that is yet to be revealed. 

Anyway, the first version of the cover (not in the image below) had the snowman but didn’t have the figure in the background. But Barry wisely suggested something was missing and suggested a sinister figure in the trees, and more blood.

That led to the snowman image you can see in the image above.

Once that was done, Barry was keen to see it without the snowman, and several other options, such as with a cairn or just the blood. You can see the two options that led to in the image above, too. 

Barry liked them but still wasn’t 100% with it, so we chose to try it with a wooden cross to mark a grave at the end of the blood trail. That led to the image at the top, which we used on the final cover. After that, we went back and forth a little bit with the image’s framing on the book cover to find the right crop, but it was basically done, and that marked another cover done for JD Kirks bestselling Jack Logan series. 

I’m really pleased with this one, and it’s undoubtedly one of my favorites of the series, along with Blood and Treachery and An Isolated Incident. 

The next one’s pretty awesome too, and I’m looking forward to the reveal of that one. 

OK, I hope you enjoyed this little insight into the creation of the covers for the Logan series. 

If you liked this and you’d like more behind the scenes insight, then please do let us know, as I’m happy to share it with you. 

Also, feel free to ask any questions you might have, and I’ll do my best to answer them for you. 

Many Thanks
Andrew Dobell


Looking for a book cover or other design work? I highly recommend Andrew’s Creative Edge Studios. Visit his site to see some of his other work.

5 Comments

  1. Chris Treise

    Very interesting, thanks.

  2. Marcy

    Thanks Andrew and JD, very interesting. Your book covers are great , I regret not having the stack of books to enjoy the covers better. The downside of ebooks is overlooking the covers, I am going to pay more attention in future.

  3. Jane Tarbet

    I love hearing the creative process here and just bemoan the fact that buying the kindle edition doesn’t give me the chance to see a copy up close and personal anymore 🙁 I love it, but just can’t see the detail like I can holding a book in my hand. Maybe I need to go back to that…

  4. Mark

    Superb reading about that creative process. I just accept the fact that the covers exist – just like that – and not the process that goes before it. A great of pressure I guess as readers who are not familiar with the characters could equally be pulled in or put off based on the cover?

  5. Marcy

    Thanks JD and Andrew, very interesting. Using Kindle I don’t see the covers as much as when you have a lovely stack of real books to look at but I am going to make a point to enjoy them more. You guys make a great team.