Book Cover Illustration: Unraveling the Essence of a Story

A course by Silja Goetz
Illustrator. Madrid, Spain.
Joined September 2015
, Illustrator

Learn the secrets of conceptual illustration to create an eye-catching book cover using analog and digital techniques

  • 100% positive reviews (169)
  • 2686 students
  • Audio: English
  • English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Polish, Dutch

Learn the secrets of conceptual illustration to create an eye-catching book cover using analog and digital techniques

  • 100% positive reviews (169)
  • 2686 students
  • 15 lessons (2h 21m)
  • 22 additional resources (7 files)
  • Online and at your own pace
  • Available on the app
  • Audio: English
  • English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Polish, Dutch
  • Level: Beginner
  • Unlimited access forever

Awakening curiosity and desire is at the heart of every great book cover illustration, and behind this craft lies a series of tricks and secrets to achieving professional results. Silja Goetz is a German illustrator with vast experience in creating book covers for publishing houses like Penguin Random House, Harper Collins, Gräfe und Unzer, Doubleday, and more. Discover how to put your ideas onto paper and refine them with Silja’s guidance to generate illustrated pieces ready to present to a publishing house.

In this course, Silja takes you into her book cover illustration world, to give you a full professional perspective and guide you through her own methodology to create a mesmerizing book cover that has the power to capture an audience’s full attention. Learn how to research, experiment, and uncover the ideal illustration for a literature piece and get expert advice on how to start working in editorial illustration.

What will you learn in this online course?

Course table of contents

  • U1
    U1. Introduction
  • U2
    U2. About Book Covers
  • U3
    U3. Sketching
  • U4
    U4. Production
  • U5
    U5. The Real World
  • FP
    FP Final project
View details

Silja begins the course by telling you how she became an illustrator and what influences her work at the moment, along with a brief explanation of what you’re about to learn in the course.

Get a brief overview of the history of book covers, and then delve into the secrets that make a successful book cover. Silja shows you the main graphic styles and invites you to explore your bookstore to identify them and find inspiration.

Play a brainstorming game to find which piece of literature inspires you most, and then play another game to start coming up with initial ideas. Next, do some background research and gather visual references to complement your ideas.

Next, create your thumbnail sketches and decide on the idea you want to carry further. Sketch on either Procreate or scraps of paper to refine your chosen idea, experimenting with different elements until you find the one you like. Then, see Silja’s expert do’s and don'ts for illustrating book covers.

Silja shows you how she works on her illustration first by using pencil and paper, inviting you to use the method that works best for you. Then scan your drawing and use Photoshop to work on the texture and color. See how to observe your work and add finishing touches to make it pop, and get your file ready for print.

Finally, see Silja’s work and get insider tips on how to work on a book cover with a client. Learn about the ideal proposals to share with clients, and get some useful advice on how to get started in the editorial illustration world.

What is this course's project?

Create a striking book cover full of meaning for a fiction novel of your choice.

Projects by course students

Who is this online course for?

For professional and aspiring illustrators, graphic designers, book cover aficionados, and people who want to learn how to communicate with their drawings.

Requirements and materials

To take this course you need good drawing skills and previous experience in using the tools to illustrate on Adobe Photoshop.

As for materials, you need a computer with Adobe Photoshop and whatever medium you want to use for sketching (pencil and paper, a graphics tablet, or an iPad).


2686 Students
169 Reviews
100% Positive ratings

Silja Goetz

A course by Silja Goetz

Teacher Plus

Silja has always loved to draw, and with the encouragement of her parents, she kept it up and decided early on that she wanted to become an illustrator. She studied Communication Design in Nüremberg while working as an illustrator for a magazine about animals for children, along with some work for magazines like Elle and Cosmopolitan.

Silja worked as a layout designer for Allegra Magazine (Germany) for over two years, where she learned to see illustration from an art director’s perspective. After deciding she wanted to create illustrations instead of working with the work of others, she took a leap of faith and moved to Spain, where she started working as a freelance illustrator.

She has worked with press clients like The New Yorker, Elle, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Die Zeit, Outdoor magazine, and more, as well as on advertising projects for clients like Estrella Damm. Her book cover illustrations adorn the books of publishers like Penguin Random House, Harper Collins, Gräfe und Unzer, and Doubleday.


  • U1


    • About Me
    • Influences and Great Examples
    • What We Will Do in This Course?
  • U2

    About Book Covers

    • A Very Short History of The Book Cover
    • The Secrets Behind Successful Book Covers
    • Now Choose Your Own Book
  • U3


    • Thumbnail Sketches (Procreate)
    • Frankenstein’s Monster (Photoshop)
    • Pencil Drawing
  • U4


    • Assembly in Photoshop
    • Applying Color
    • Something is Missing
    • Touch Ups and Preparation for Print
  • U5

    The Real World

    • Other Alternatives
    • Examples From My Day To Day
  • FP

    Final project

    • Book Cover Illustration: Unraveling the Essence of a Story

What to expect from a Domestika course

  • Learn at your own pace

    Enjoy learning from home without a set schedule and with an easy-to-follow method. You set your own pace.

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    Learn valuable methods and techniques explained by top experts in the creative sector.

  • Meet expert teachers

    Each expert teaches what they do best, with clear guidelines, true passion, and professional insight in every lesson.

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  • Get front-row seats

    Videos of the highest quality, so you don't miss a single detail. With unlimited access, you can watch them as many times as you need to perfect your technique.

  • Share knowledge and ideas

    Ask questions, request feedback, or offer solutions. Share your learning experience with other students in the community who are as passionate about creativity as you are.

  • Connect with a global creative community

    The community is home to millions of people from around the world who are curious and passionate about exploring and expressing their creativity.

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Domestika's courses are online classes that provide you with the tools and skills you need to complete a specific project. Every step of the project combines video lessons with complementary instructional material, so you can learn by doing. Domestika's courses also allow you to share your own projects with the teacher and with other students, creating a dynamic course community.

All courses are 100% online, so once they're published, courses start and finish whenever you want. You set the pace of the class. You can go back to review what interests you most and skip what you already know, ask questions, answer questions, share your projects, and more.

The courses are divided into different units. Each one includes lessons, informational text, tasks, and practice exercises to help you carry out your project step by step, with additional complementary resources and downloads. You'll also have access to an exclusive forum where you can interact with the teacher and with other students, as well as share your work and your course project, creating a community around the course.

You can redeem the course you received by accessing the redeeming page and entering your gift code.

If you're a Plus member, when you complete a course you've purchased, you'll instantly get your personalized certificate. You can see all your certificates in the Certificates section of your profile. You can download your certificates as PDFs and share the link online. Learn more about certificates.
Book Cover Illustration: Unraveling the Essence of a Story. Illustration course by Silja Goetz

Book Cover Illustration: Unraveling the Essence of a Story

A course by Silja Goetz
Illustrator. Madrid, Spain.
Joined September 2015
  • 100% positive reviews (169)
  • 2686 students