Illustrated Cover Design Process at the Example of Welcome to the Nexus

Illustrated Cover Design Process at the Example of Welcome to the Nexus

MiblArt creates various book covers, and each author can choose the one that best suits their tastes and genres. Today, we want to focus on illustrated covers in more detail. This cover type works well with children’s literature, fantasy, romance, and more.

What will you get if you want to order an illustrated ebook and print cover design that starts from $380?

  • Illustrated book cover designed from scratch with up to 2 characters and a background
  • Hand-drawn digital art in .pdf and .jpg formats, as well as a source file in .psd format
  • Free 3D model of the book for marketing use.

You also can order drawing of additional characters for an extra fee.  

This fall, our book artists created a stunning illustrated book cover for the epic fantasy romance “Welcome to the Nexus” by Nate Gillick. The author enjoyed the result and shared the experience of working with us in the article on Laterpress.

We also want to talk about the process of creating this book cover here, in case you missed it.

A bit of the background story

Previously, Nate Gillick used the services of Getcovers (part of the Mibl group) to create book covers for his ebooks. By the way, here they are: 

Source Source

However, for his debut novel, Nate Gillick wanted an illustrated cover that clearly reflected the incredible universe and characters created by his imagination. 

His story is called “Welcome to the Nexus” and tells about the events in the fantasy world and the city of Kimori, a giant tree that grows on top of an enormous anthill. The book’s main characters are Serena, a human female, Ivy,  a dryad female, and Annea, an elf female.    

Unfortunately, stock images would not be suitable in this case. Therefore, Nate Gillick decided to turn to MiblArt and get a unique illustrated book cover design from scratch.

Part 1: Before creating an illustrated book cover


The illustrated book cover design service assumes that the first draft will be ready within 30 business days. So make sure you have this time margin if you order this type of cover. For example, Nate Gillick placed an order on July 1st and received the finished cover, including all edits and changes, on October 19th.

Placing an order

In addition to ordering the standard number of services included in the illustrated cover package, Nate Gillick ordered an additional character for an extra $50. Although as a result, the author received even six characters.

Filling in information about the book, the author has faced a real challenge for him, the book’s description. Because Nate Gillick had a clear idea of what his book cover should look like, the novel’s events on three planets were insignificant to the process. Therefore, the author focused more on describing the characters and what should be in the picture.

However, if you don’t have a clear vision for your illustrated cover, describe the book’s plot in more detail. This will help the artist come up with a concept for the first sketch.

Nate Gillick also chose an  illustration style after looking at samples of art from several different artists. Depending on the complexity of the pattern and detailing, the design can cost more than $380. In addition, the author chose the type of cover from the suggested ones, for example, an object-based cover or one with detailed characters). 

Part 2: While creating an illustrated book cover

First sketch

Five weeks after the order, Nate Gillick received the first sketch of the future cover. Here’s what it looked like:

It was a solid first crack at what the author wanted, and the final composition didn’t change much. But Nate Gillick had some notes.


This character, the elf in the back, is floating in the air in the “Magneto pose.” It looks cool, but she doesn’t have such power according to the book’s plot. But her position towards other women is perfect. The author proposed to show her standing on an elevated platform like she was delivering a speech. It makes sense since she is a ruler in the book.


Pik-Pik and Tik-Tik are the fourth and fifth characters Nate Gillick got into the cover art. They have leashes because they are described as pets. However, the author asked to remove those things.


The dryad is naked. It was attributed to the fact that the artist didn’t want to get in-depth with covering her in plant clothing at this stage. The clothes became a point of emphasis in the next drawing.

Second version

Nine days later, the author received an improved and colored version of the illustration:


Anna came out perfect on the first try after changing the pose. However, other details required changes, so our artist continued the work.


The ants were the wrong color, but this detail was quickly corrected. Moreover, the author added a reference photo.

Serena’s hand

On Serena’s arm, we can see a confusing tattoo that is the sixth character in the book, Tako. It’s a telepathic, octopus-like character who can ride around on Serena’s skin like a mobile tattoo or leave her body to become 3D. Our artists removed the tattoo and drew the tentacle instead. It’s actually an easter egg for readers.


The dryad looks too young here and needs more clothes. So we changed those things too.

World tree

The author decided to de-emphasize the tree to keep the characters as large as possible.

Third version

This is what the illustrated book cover looks like after the latest changes. The image also contains the back cover:

At this stage, the author asked to move the character higher to provide more space for the book’s title. Our artist did that and added the typography:

Part 3: Final illustrated book cover

Nate Gillick loved the color and metallic sheen on the typography on the updated version. But he strongly disliked the font because it suited more for fairytale or fantasy romance. “Welcome to the Nexus” is more action-adventure fantasy with hints of science fiction.

We asked Nate Gillick for some examples of fonts he liked. Then, the author decided to choose Black Chancery regular, the font used on the premade cover this illustration is replacing.

The mission was completed! It’s time to enjoy the final book cover:


In addition to the book cover, the author received several 3D mockups for social media marketing.

Summing up

The process of creating this cover was fascinating as our artist worked with a fantastic world and characters that have different appearances and powers. Moreover, the author got six heroes on the final book cover instead of the three promised. 

If you want to get even more details, read the blog post that we mentioned at the beginning. Nate Gillick shared many insights about working with us there.

What do you think of the final cover for “Welcome to the Nexus”? Share your thoughts with us.

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