Creating realistic book cover mock-ups in Photoshop can help you to imagine how your photography portfolio, novel, or non-fiction book will look like in the hands of your readers!
In this tutorial, I will teach you how to create a mock-up template that you can use whenever you want!
If you want to follow the tutorial step-by-step with the same files used, you can download the photo template here.
Unlike other tutorials, I will not be using the Distort option found under the Free Transform as it can mess up the original aspect ratio of your image.
This technique often results in an unnatural, stretched-out image that is not convincing enough to be a mock-up book cover.
Create an Aspect Ratio Template
Start by enabling your Rulers by going to View > Ruler, or you can press Ctrl R (Windows) or Command R (MacOS).
Next, click-and-drag horizontal and vertical guides that align with the four corners of the book. If a guide is misaligned, you can easily use the Move tool to click-and-drag the guide to its right placement.
This step is essential as it will help you mark the area where you will copy pixels from.
PRO TIP: If you want to create a vertical guide but end up dragging the horizontal instead, you don’t need to discard the current guide.
Instead, hold Alt (Windows) or Option (MacOS) to flip the orientation of the guide. This shortcut also works the other way around!
Make sure every single corner has vertical and horizontal guides marking these points before we move onto the next step.
Next, select the Perspective Crop tool, which is nestled right under the Crop tool, and click-and-drag the handles of the grid towards each corner of the book, the point right where the converging lines meet.
The handles should snap in place. If this doesn’t happen, choose View > Snap to enable the feature.
Once each handle is in place, press Enter (Windows) or Return (MacOS).
Upon pressing, you will immediately be taken into a cropped view of your book in its proper aspect ratio.
Create a Selection
Create a selection around the canvas by pressing Ctrl A (Windows) or Command A (MacOS), and press Ctrl C (Windows) or Command C (MacOS) to copy all of the pixels within the selection.
Then, press Ctrl Z (Windows) or Command Z (MacOS) to undo the step.
Go back to the full image and press Ctrl V (Windows) or Command V (MacOS) to paste the copied selection and rename the layer to “Book Cover.”
Then, right-click on the layer and select Convert to Smart Object. This new layer will now contain all the distortion, filters, and adjustments that I will apply without affecting the other elements of this composite.
Press Ctrl T (Windows) or Command T (MacOS) to transform the layer > right-click > Distort.
Now, I can drag the corner handles right to the points where I placed the guides earlier. With the Snap feature enabled, you should also be able to drag these corner handles into the exact points by “snapping” into place.
The Book Cover thumbnail is now a template that you will use for the book mock-ups. If you double-click on the Book Cover thumbnail, it should take you to another tab without a distorted perspective.
Choose View > Clear Guides to clear your document window from any guides or grids.
Place the Book Cover
Using the same image I used before, scale it up to fit the whole canvas of the book and click the checkmark button on the Options tab to apply the changes.
Then press Ctrl S (Windows) or Command S (MacOS) to save the Smart Object and apply the changes to your current working document.
Fix the Details
Clear out the document window to hide the guide by pressing Ctrl ; (Windows) or Command ; (MacOS), this will not delete the guides, it will only temporarily hide them. You can make them reappear by pressing the same shortcut, Ctrl ; (Windows) or Command ; (MacOS).
Press Ctrl T (Windows) or Command T (MacOS) > right-click > Warp. With this, you can warp the handles to match the edges of the book completely.
PRO TIP: If you are working with bent book covers, go to the Options bar and click on the Split to create split points where you can adjust the curvature of the image.
Retain the Shadow
On the original image, you will notice shadows created by the thumbs holding the book. To replicate it, simply change the Blending Mode of the layer to Multiply, and this works best because we have a white canvas as the book cover.
At this point, the right thumb is covered by the Book Cover layer. To fix this, go to the bottom of the Layers panel and click on the Layer Mask icon to create a layer mask.
Then, select the color black (#000000) as your foreground color and with the Brush tool, paint over the thumb to hide the pixels of the Book Cover layer.
PRO TIP: Press the [ or ] key on your keyboard to resize your brushes!
To reveal hidden pixels, use the white color (#ffffff) to paint over these areas.
Imitate the Paper Effect
One crucial factor to ensure is that the layer should react similarly to a paper cover—this means there is no absolute black nor white.
To achieve that, go to Image > Adjustments > Levels.
Bring your mouse pointer over to the Output Levels. By default, the handle points to the darkest color of your image, which is black. Now, drag it to the right to make it less dark. A value between 9-12 is a good start.
Do the same step for the white Output Level. Drag the slider to the left to make it less white and more like a lighter shade of gray.
Then click OK to apply the changes.
How to Change the Image
Since this book cover mock-up is now a template you can freely use anytime, let me teach you how you can use another image as a realistic book cover mock-up in Photoshop without reverting to Step 1!
Double-click on the Smart Object thumbnail, and it will lead you to another tab where you can drag a new image onto the canvas.
Drag the corner handles to scale up the image until it fits the canvas. Once you have properly placed the image, go to the Options bar and click on the checkmark to apply the changes. Another method of saving the changes is by pressing Ctrl S (Windows) or Command S (MacOS).
If you go back to the working document, you’ll see how the book cover has been updated with the recent changes, and the Levels adjustment has also been applied.
NOTE: Head over to your Layers panel and make sure to unlink the layer to your layer mask so you can apply distortions or warping without affecting the layer mask that hides the pixels.
With this set as a template, you can easily create realistic book cover mock-ups in Photoshop in a few simple steps!
Don’t forget to post your finished work on Instagram and tag #ptcvids!
Book Cover Mockups in Photoshop Starter Files
You can download this file to follow along with this tutorial.