This is the third installment of my continuing series here on Morning Rain Publishing where I discuss the concepts and processes that go into creating book covers for our authors. This week, I will be discussing An Eagle’s Heart by Scott Butcher.

When I first read the blurb for “An Eagle’s Heart”, I wanted the cover to be more like a drawing, and less realistic. Many Middle Grade books have illustrated covers, and I thought that An Eagle’s Heart might be a good candidate for that. The characters are actually personified birds, and they represent the different roles that occur in a bullying situation.

For my first concepts for the book cover, I used two of the main characters – the murder of crows and the Eagle. The Eagle needed to appear strong, and defiant while the crows needed to be dark and menacing. I used the Eagle’s head popped off the main part of the cover and into the blackness of the crows. I wanted to ensure his chest was puffed and proud, demonstrating that the Eagle was a formidable opponent of the evil crows. The chickadee is an important character (you’ve read the story, right?), so I needed to make sure the bird lived on the cover, too. I decided to perch the chickadee on the words in the title to bring the whole design together.


I very much liked the illustrated quality of the first two of the above covers, however, after much discussion and working with the author, we collectively felt that the third concept would be better suited to this story. The overall comment was that the illustrated covers were a bit too scary for our intended audience, and I tend to agree.

So, for the more realistic cover, I used the Merlin Falcon, the Eagle, the chickadee, and the murder of crows – all of which are main characters in the story. The challenge with these pictures was cutting them out in Photoshop. The feathers can be difficult, but after some concentrated time, I was able to separate the birds from their backgrounds (let’s hear it for the pen tool!). For the background, I created a collage of the crows on the blue sky to represent “the murder of crows” which is significant to the story.


I then designed a title lock-up using a combination of the fonts Arizona and Alfa Slab One. The chickadee looked really cute perched on the “A” of the word “An”. Also, if you look very closely, I used a hand-drawn heart in the title of the first concept. I liked the heart as it represented the core of the story – no matter your size, if you have a strong heart, you can overcome almost anything. I decided to keep the heart in the final version of the cover as it added some whimsy, hopefully making the cover more attractive to our target audience.

An Eagle's Heart by Scott Butcher

Overall, I think the cover represents the story of “An Eagle’s Heart” very well, and I had lots of fun creating this collage of warring birds. I hope you enjoyed learning my book cover design secrets, and you’ll join me again in the coming weeks as I discuss more of the covers I’ve designed for Morning Rain Publishing.

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