With self-publishing becoming a rising method, you’d be surprised with the amount of authors who use images from websites such as Google without paying for them. Although it may seem like the easiest option, it’s illegal and you don’t want to get caught in the mess of having to pay for damages.
There are plenty of free options like Pexels or Pixabay that offer high-quality, free of use stock images. If you are looking for more specific or a wider choice of imagery, you could use websites such as Alamy, Shutterstock or Getty images. These offer affordable, high quality stock imagery that doesn’t break the bank. Plus they have millions of images to choose from, so it would be a hard push to find something you don’t like!
Book cover designs can be created in any medium you like, however when it comes to self-publishing you’re going to need to convert the cover into digital format one way or another. You can essentially use any graphic software to do this, but more free or online software is usually limited to template layouts. This could be a negative as your cover may come out looking like somebody elses, or rather generic. Professional tools like the Adobe Suite would be a great software to use, but this requires training and a much steeper learning curve.