I don't know why I'm almost always surprised when I see something artistic that looks perfect and I find out that it wasn't exactly that way on the first attempt. When I read a well-crafted novel, I have visions in my head still that the novel wrote itself, each word perfect as the author sat typed, no changes necessary once the first draft is completed. (It's a ridiculously high expectation to have sitting in the back of your head, too!) When I see a piece of art, I imagine every brushstroke was perfect the first time, without having to sketch it out or redo any sections.
When it comes to book covers, I fell prey to my usual thinking: The covers simply come out perfect with little effort on the artist's part since they look so right. I mean, maybe a few things with fonts need to be tweaked later, but on the whole, it's just a good look from start to finish. I also never thought about the fact that covers can be PhotoShop creations and collages of images as often as they can be paintings or photographs.
Today, Pub Rants has a great post on the creation of the newest cover in NON-interviewed author Gail Carriger's latest novel. I've linked to the creative ad for the upcoming third book in this series here for your ease, or you can slip over to Pub Rants to see it there. It's cover magic in action, and there's a lot more than one take of cut and paste and, ta-da, perfection.