Covers Revealed!

Here are cover images for three short fiction pieces related to the Herbert West Series. I designed these images myself, using Canva, which has been dubbed “The easiest to use design program in the world.” Not having used any other such programs (unless you count Microsoft Paint), I can’t verify that, but I was able to produce what I consider usable images with Canva, after a short and not too steep learning curve.

Each image is followed by its book description, and then my comments on how I put it together, for what they’re worth. Keep in mind that these are simple images to accompany brief, simple stories, and I’m a total amateur when it comes to design.

The Nexus corrected

Herbert West Series supplement 1

Supplement 1. The Nexus

Nearing the end of his long life, Miskatonic University professor Augustus Quarrington retraces the path to his entanglement with one of his most interesting – and dangerous – students: Herbert West.

The narrator is an alchemist as well as a professor, and Miskatonic U is famous for weird goings-on, so the alchemical symbol for sulfur is a good motif for this image. The moody blue background and twisty shape in purple say “supernatural,” and the intricate gold frame hints at complications. The line of green diamonds complements the other colours and finishes the image. The gold line with circle ends is an ornament I find visually pleasing. Rotating line elements to a vertical position makes them usable in ways other than the obvious.



Herbert West Series supplement 2

Supplement 2. From the Annexe

Miskatonic University librarian Charles Milburn was Herbert West’s assistant and closest friend. He has already revealed much about their association in The Friendship of Mortals. But not everything. This is the part he left out.

This is an addendum to The Friendship of Mortals, the first novel of the Herbert West Series. It explores an aspect of the relationship between the two main characters that was hinted at but not developed in that book. The relationship is, of course, a romantic one. Romantic but not terribly happy. Thus the same moody blue background and purple twisty shape, overlaid with a caduceus (to represent Herbert West as a physician) and a misty pink transparency of a rose (a photo of a rose in my garden). I added the drops of blood (free from Canva) to counteract the pink sweetness and hint at troubles. Another line, this time of pink triangles, provides the finishing touch.



Herbert West Series supplement 3

Supplement 3. A Visit to Luxor

Reformed necromancer Francis Dexter (formerly known as Herbert West) and his servant Andre Boudreau visit Luxor, Egypt in the year 1935. A climb up el-Qurn, the sacred mountain behind the Valley of the Kings, leads to an encounter with bandits, and with one who “was of the old native blood and looked like a Pharaoh.”

In this case, the background is weathered stone (rather than blue-tinted concrete) to represent Egyptian antiquities, with an excerpt from the Papyrus of Ani (from Wikimedia Commons) and a cobra shape (from Pixabay), because the story contains references to cobras. The lines of blue squares and the gold and blue twisty shapes say “ancient Egypt.” The line of green triangles (pyramids) at the bottom is another gesture to “Egypt” (although there are no pyramids at Luxor). The reversed green triangles at the top fill up some empty space and enclose the whole thing.

This was the first story for which I did a Canva design, so I ended up with multiple versions as I learned how to put elements together, move them around, etc. Once I worked up images for the other two stories, I decided I wanted the three to have a “family resemblance,” created by the twisty background shapes, the fonts for title, author and subtitle/series and the use of horizontal lines of geometric shapes. Here are two of the early versions of the image for this story.


OK, the snake is a rattler, not a cobra, and the columns (hinting at Karnak) are actually a bar graph dressed up with different lines and fragments from the Papyrus of Ani. I added the pyramid shape as a unifying element that says “Egypt” if not “Luxor.”


This one features a photo (from Wikimedia Commons) of el-Qurn, the pyramid-shaped peak behind the Valley of the Kings near Luxor, with an image of a carved pharaoh (from Canva’s image database) embedded. Then there’s a transparent overlay of another photo, actually of a railway station interior (free from Canva), to add texture and that radiating effect, and a transparent pyramid shape as well. The “rising sun” thing at the bottom fills up space and adds yellow to balance the title colour. I was quite pleased with this assemblage, but abandoned it in favour of the one with the “series look.”


I regularly peruse the Monthly e-Book Cover Design Awards at the Book Designer website. From the comments on submitted cover images, I gather that fonts are a weak spot in DIY cover designs. So I’m a bit uneasy about my font choices for these images. I selected from the ones available on Canva, rather than looking more widely. I settled on a font called “Sunday” for the titles, “Sacramento” for the subtitles and series statements, and something called “IM Fell English Small Caps” for the author name. There are probably better choices (“Sacramento” isn’t the most legible, especially in smaller and thumbnail-sized images), but I found these visually pleasing.

Oh yes…

In case you’re wondering, all three stories are available as pre-orders on Amazon, for an October 1st release date.


  1. Audrey. The cover on The Friendship of Mortals certainly worked to draw me in, and it’s good to know (and I’m eager to find out) about the missing pieces in the relationship between Charles and Herbert – and where does Alma fit in? Sot of a psychological ‘melange a trois’ ?
    I’m no expert on art, but I like your covers. I will have to check out canva.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The covers for the 4 novels (rather long ones, as you know) of the HW Series were designed by a professional ( — they do great work, but it’s not cheap). I am pleased with my efforts with Canva, though. I can see lots of other uses for it — flyers, bookmarks, blog graphics, etc. And “melange a trois” — very perceptive of you, as you’ll see if you ever read Book 4, Hunting the Phoenix. Thanks for commenting, John! 🙂


  2. The covers look great! I’ve vaguely heard of Canva, but didn’t realize it could be used to create such beautiful cover art! I’ll have to check it out. PS: The fonts you chose look very professional to me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Michelle. Someone in the WordPress blogosphere mentioned Canva a while ago and I made a mental note, which fortunately didn’t disappear like so many other mental notes. It’s easy and fun to use, to the point that I’ve designed some images for stuff I haven’t even written yet. Also would be good for creating graphics for blog posts, book promotion events, etc.


      1. Okay, now I’m definitely checking it out! And it’s free to use? I imagine they would require you to put in a “Created via Canva” notice inside the book if you use their program to design a book cover?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, it’s free! You can create as many designs as you want, using Canva’s free or paid ($1 each) elements. When you’re ready to download a finished design, you pay for the elements you’ve used. Note: if you have more than one version of a design, but you want to use only the final one, delete the others before you download, because you’ll be charged for the not-free elements in all versions. Those 3 e-book covers cost me only $1 or $2 (US) apiece. And I didn’t see a requirement to credit Canva, but I did that anyway: “Cover image designed by Audrey Driscoll with Canva.” I also noted the source of the free extra images I used — Wikimedia Commons and Pixabay.


  3. I am impressed with these covers; quite evocative, particularly the continuation of the theme of the snake. That was an astute choice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had to do a bit of a snake hunt before I found a suitable cobra. To start with, I used that rattlesnake image, which I later discovered was created for warning signs in parks where rattlesnakes are found. (Fortunately I live in an area with no venomous snakes, although it’s becoming fairly common to hear about escaped pets such as boa constrictors). Thanks for the compliment!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think they look great and work well together. The symbolism adds to the hermetic nature of the stories. The developers of Canva seem to have done something right if it can produce something so effective without the need for a major learning curve.

    I also like the idea of what I call ‘supplementary material’ to support a series of novels. It adds to the richness of the world you’re creating.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the compliment. Ultimately I plan to re-jig my prices so the short stories are free and all the novels have suitable prices. I’ve heard changing prices can be a way to generate more sales (but that may be more of the magical thinking so common in indie-land).

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am hardly the world’s greatest artist, but the second one, I would try to brighten it. Once it is reduced to the Amazon postage stamp size, it will be too indistinct. I would also try to whiten the fonts. Brightening is easy – I don’t know about the fonts as I have never even heard of Canva.

    Have you ever been to Luxor? If not, it is worth the visit, at least provided the region is stable. I like the cobra on the background.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it’s possible to use any colour for text in Canva. Something closer to white would make the title stand out better. Thanks for the observation.
      I have not been to Luxor (or anywhere else in Egypt) but would like to go.


Comments are closed.