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How To Make a Book Cover with Public Domain Images

Exploring the public domain Kunstformen der Natur, writer Casey Dexter turned a gorgeous 1904 illustration into part of an eye-catching book cover.

If you are looking for public domain images for your next book cover, we’ve created a list of free resources below. In a Reddit post, Dexter explained how he used the free Microsoft Paint and Pixlr to create the complete cover. Check it out:

I should also give credit to Ernst Haeckel, whose beautiful Kunstformen der Natur is in the public domain … the large text is in century gothic and my name is in century. I don’t know if they’re actually related in any way, but the title was a challenge because of the two big Os – it’s hard to get a default font that kerns properly with vowels like that, and century gothic seemed like one of the best. Century just happened to fit in well with the illustration, I thought. Maybe I’ll eventually get to go at it in Photoshop or something, all the text was done in MS Paint because for some reason there’s a really small text size limit on pixlr.

At the Self-Publishing Book Expo a few years ago, Andy Carpenter and Eric Baker shared some cover design resources for self-published authors.

The complete list of resources follows below.

1. The Library of Congress’ image collection to find public domain images

2. American Memory Project to find public domain images

3. Archive.org for public domain books

4. Public Domain Images Google Search

5. Illustrated books on Project Gutenberg

6. Creative Commons search on Flickr (must use this specific search for “Creative Commons-licensed content for commercial use, adaptation, modification or building upon”)

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