Step By Step Guide to Quality Book Cover Designs
Book cover design is what every author and design should aim at achieving.
In today’s tutorial, I will be giving you the best step to step guide to quality Book Cover Designs with some useful examples.
The ability of your book to draw the attention of any reader is totally dependent on the quality of the book cover design used; and also,
the quality of a book cover design determines the success of any printed book.
EBook covers, otherwise known as book jacket design differ in types and places of use, depending on its bookshop counterparts, but the impact they have on sales remains high.
In the year 2016, it was estimated by crunching real quotes offered by Reedsy editors and designers over a year of thorough research and studies that the average price for a professional eBook covers ranges from $300 to $1500.
Why Should I Get a Professional Book Cover Design?
The fact is, one of the major lessons from book cover designs can be applied to making a better printed book cover that will help to improve their sales online.
The most common problem found among bad book cover designs is their inability to translate in the digital world.
What do I mean by this?
Well, it’s quite simple!
You simply cannot tell anything about it just by viewing it.
A quality book design at the basic level will help your readers to take you and your book seriously. Retailers online like Amazon do not place much difference between traditional and self-published books in their search results. This means that self-dependent authors have a lot of competition to face with traditionally published books to ensure that their designs can keep up or match, or if possible, outrank those of their competitors.
Most self-publishing authors try to play smart by hiring a friend or colleague who has one or two knowledge about Photoshop to come up with a quick design for their book cover for free. As enticing that may be, hiring a professional designer brings more than just Photoshop skills to the desk.
Let it be known, book cover design involves a complex balance between images, text and general contrast, and you need a professional who has knowledge about these elements and how they interact with each other to help promote the sale of your book.
Quality designers mean quality book design because they know how to communicate the right message with just a cover design.
How Can I Create a Quality Book Cover Design?
You cannot go ahead to design a book cover of good quality without having good knowledge of the major elements that make up a book cover;
…now, let us talk a bit about the major elements found in a book cover design.
Elements of a Book Cover Design
Generally speaking, all book covers should have the following elements:
These three listed elements form the basics of every book cover design.
Whether you want your book cover to look simple or complex is all dependent on the background of your choice. Most quality book covers work well without an image due to the right choice of the colour of the background used.
Color plays a crucial role in creating the perfect look and feel of any book cover design.
The contrast between bright tints and dark shades tends to increase visibility and helps to ensure that your book stands out on the shelf or a search result page.
The function of complementary colors in the background of a book cover design is that, it just tends to contrast naturally. You can increase the contrast in any color scheme just by combining light and dark shades.
For example, pale yellow and bright green on a blue background forms a calming palette that would create a lot of eye-popping contrast for book covers.
Below is a list of some complementary colors and their corresponding analogous (calming colors).
Complementary Colors Analogous/Calming Colors
Red and Green Yellow, Orange, and Red
Blue and Orange Red, Purple, and Blue
Yellow and Purple Blue, Green, and Yellow
Color Selection in Book Cover Design
Choose the best color for your book cover should begin with the mood you want to portray. Next, look to your graphics for direction.
The question now is,
What mood best suits my book cover design?
Below is a list of suitable colors and the tone or feeling each one portray when it is dominant on book covers.
Note: Avoid being tempted to choose an entire palette based strictly on the descriptions. These guidelines are useful as a starting point or suggestive resource, and are most valuable when you need ideas for a background colour.
|Red||Energy, enthusiasm, emotion, power|
|Dark Red||Passion, depth, dominance, prestige|
|Orange||Positive, dynamic, optimistic, confident|
|Pale Yellow||Friendly, approachable, warm|
|Bold Yellow||Ambition, motivation, creativity, cutting edge|
|Green||Nature, vitality, environment, health|
|Blue||Dependability, trust, thoughtfulness, calm|
|Dark Blue||Deep sincerity, intuition, truth|
|Light Purple||prosperity, spirituality, creativity, harmony|
|Dark Purple||Depth, wealth, mystery, fantasy|
|Grey||Sophistication, knowledge, prestige, wisdom|
|Pink||Youth, playfulness, emotion, innocence|
|White||Clean, straightforward, self-sufficient, simple|
|Black||Authority, power, control, mystery, suspense|
|Brown||Natural, of the earth, comfortable, organic|
Some book covers work well without an image when the other elements work together properly.
…But a strong image tends to improve the quality of your cover design, give it a focus and showcase something important about the book’s subject or style.
If you want your book cover to have a professional lift, you need to trash your home snapshots and purchase an image a stock photography library.
As with background images, stock photos provide you with images of high quality which works very well with both the background and most importantly, the type.
These services give you the liberty of trying and testing the photos in your design before you make purchases of them by downloading a watermarked comp image.
Well, if due to lack of finance you are not able to afford stock photos and you’re forced to stick with your amateur photograph or image, you can!
But you will need to improve on it with smart cropping by turning the image into a smart object, thus keeping its resolution constant no matter how far or how wide you crop the image.
…alternatively, you can apply special effects such as fading, but be wise not to overdo so.
Well, here are some useful tips to choosing and using images on your book cover design:
- Beware of copyright!
Don’t just go to Google and rip off just any photo from the web. All photos are protected by copyright, and you pulling them off someone else’s website, especially if the person paid to use them is tagged illegal.
Also make sure that any stock photo you plan on using is royalty-free.
- Make sure all images you use are 300 dpi (dots per inch) in size. Even though they’re primarily viewed online, book covers require this minimum level of quality. [spacer height=”20px”]
- Go Custom!
If you as a designer have no knowledge about photo manipulation and you think you can come up with the perfect book cover design,
YOU ARE WRONG!
Photo manipulation is key to customizing your image to come up with a unique design for your book cover. The danger faced in using only stock photos without a little touch of manipulation tricks is that, your photo or image may appear on someone else’s book cover, and if that book is in the same genre as yours it can cause customer confusion, thus making your entire eBook not unique.
When you’re choosing images for your book cover design, you may want to reflect on what you currently have in place in your business. If you own a business and want your book to communicate of what you do, you may consider matching the brand of the book to your business. Using this strategy, you’d tend to will more attention to you as an expert and you’ll find your influence broadened overall. When interlinking branding to your book design, think about this:
- What major fonts do you use in your email outreach, newsletters or website?
- What graphics do you have created already for your other products and services?
- Do you have a logo that you can attach as part of the graphical imagery of the book cover?
Ponder on how you can use existing branding like your logo or company colors to improve on your book cover design and link your readers to the reality that you are the go-to expert in your field.
Click to read more about brand development strategy.
- Study what Works
Make proper research on quality book cover designs currently available in your genre, what images turn you on? What designs turn you off? Take important notes!
Every time visit a bookstore or library, ask yourself these questions and jot down titles of books that have cover designs you like and why.
You’ll begin to see a pattern that fits your taste. Once you recognize what you love and why, you’ll be able to articulate that to a professional and quality book cover designer and if you’re capable, design it yourself.
Typography is a definition of real art and sets the best book designs apart from the rest.
On book covers, effective typography is possibly the single biggest success factor. A typeface must suit the genre of book designed, and most importantly, be clear and readable at the smallest scale.
More important than colour, images or pictures are that your title is clear and easy to read.
What do I mean by easy to read?
Well let’s put it like this, if you happen to reduce your book cover to a one-inch-sized thumbnail on your computer,
…will you still be able to read the title?
If your answer is, NO!
You will need to change it.
Well, here are some tips to help you craft the best look for your catchy book cover design title:
- Make your title type a different color than your background. If your title type is light blue on a slightly darker blue background, it would be difficult to read in thumbnail size. Using a light color behind a darker colored type font or a very contrasting dark color behind a white or almost white font is a decent way to make sure your title type is readable.[spacer height=”20px”]
- Make the title a nice bold font. Get creative with different typefaces, but try not to use a font that looks handwritten for your primary title unless that style lends itself well to your subject matter. The most annoying thing for a glancing customer is to see a complicated script font that’s hard on the eyes or difficult to read.
Your goal should be to make sure your title type is readable, crisp, and clear as possible and will show up as a thumbnail in search results.
- Adding fx effects like a drop shadow.
If your title has difficulty standing out from its background, adding a drop shadow fx effect is one of the major ways of resolving this problem.
Book Cover Design Ideas
There are different techniques used in book cover design. Although authors won’t need to know exactly how book jackets/covers are made, the cover design process should be well understood.
In this section, we’ll look at the three elementary techniques used by cover designers and discover how much designers will charge for each.
Image/ Photo Manipulation Techniques:
Personally speaking, image and photo manipulation techniques are one of my best techniques when coming up with a book cover design.
This is virtually the most cost-effective method to book cover design, as it doesn’t require designers to create images from scratch.
Generally speaking, just taking a peek at your local bookstore will reveal this technique as the most common technique used in modern book designs.
Here are a few examples of interesting book cover designs designed using the technique of image/photo manipulation.
Let it be known, cover designs and illustrations are two separate and different disciplines in the graphic design field.
Most amazing illustrators have little or no experience with typography and formatting, while majority of designers do not profess to be skilled illustrators at all.
…So if you as an author require your book cover design to be an illustration and decide to hire a mere cover designer, be sure to know that you are going to be spending more money. This is because, due to the fact that most professional cover designers are not good illustrators, they would tend to outsource that part of the work to another freelancer qualified to do it.
If you ask your cover designer to design a complex illustration like the ones on Scholastic’s original Harry Potter covers, you should expect your budget to double up— which will account for either the extra workload or the cost of hiring a freelancer.
Quick Tip: First hire an illustrator to design a cover image first and once that is done, you can work with a specialized cover designer to come up with your layout and arrange the text. This will often result in a lower overall cost and a better outcome.
Here are some other examples of interesting book cover designs designed using the technique of illustration.
Book Cover Designs and Book Layouts
Ever heard of book cover focal point? Well, easy said, an effective focal point brings attention to your book cover.
I am pretty sure that you’ve had the experience of browsing through a display of book covers on Amazon or just strolling through the aisles in a bookstore, where a book suddenly caught your eye? For no particular reason, you did a double take? For whatever reason, one stood out in the sea of other book covers? What you experienced was most likely the result of an effective focal point.
Focal point is what captures our primary attention and, when successful, prevents our eyes from moving on to the next cover. It’s one of the keys to great book cover designs.
A book cover without a focal point can virtually disappear, which means the book that was worked so hard to get published will never be noticed.
Usually noticed by our subconscious, the focal point halts our momentum when scanning the shelves or a list of thumbnails. It’s the reason we pause for a closer view.
Taking the book cover design of DA VINCI CODE as a case study
Quick and Easy Book Cover Design Examples and Tutorials
So, it looks like I’ve been talking too much, it’s time we design some simple book covers for ourselves.
We will only work on two book cover designs so as to give you a general overview of what I have been talking of.
The first book cover design that we are going to be designing will involve the use of simple manipulation tricks all done with Photoshop.
So let’s dive right into it >>
- Texture Background
Step 1 ( Book Cover Design – Setting Up Work Space for Book Cover Design)
Open up Photoshop >> press “CTRL/CMD + N” to create a new document (alternatively, go to file >> click NEW) >> set your document to the following setting >> Width = 40 inches, Height = 58 inches and Resolution = 72pixels/inch
Step 2 (Book Cover Design – Setting Background Texture for Book Cover Design)
Click on FILE >> select PLACE >> select the TEXTURE BACKGROUND image
Note that the reason we decided to PLACE the image is because we want to leave it as a smart object;
…and by so doing, when we try to crop (increase or decrease) the size of the image, it will in no way affect the quality of the image.
Now, let us transform the image to fit in properly to our work-space.
On your keyboard, press “CTRL/CMD + T”. You will notice a free transform box will pop out around the image you want to transform (TEXTURE BACKGROUND).
In order to maintain the same aspect ratio and avoiding our image from distorting, hold “SHIFT + Click on the corner of the free transform box and drag it out to something like this, then press ENTER.
Step 3 (Book Cover Design – Creating a Layout for Book Cover Design)
Now that we have our background texture image properly placed, it’s time we start the design.
Remember that technique of creating layouts to help improve FOCAL POINTS that I just talked on earlier, we are going to apply it here now.
We cannot create a layout without having RULERS active.
On your keyboard, press “CTRL/CMD + R” to activate RULERS if it is not already activated >> then click + drag out on the horizontal rulers and position the grid display line to the top most part of your work piece.
Do the same with the vertical ruler.
You will have something like this:
Now this gives us our first layout.
Divide your intended book cover into 3 equal parts vertically and horizontally.
What we are trying to do is to create some kind of boarder which MUST NOT be trespassed, so as to come up with a professional book cover design with good alignment and a pretty good FOCAL POINT.
Step 4: (Book Cover Design – Simple Image Manipulation Trick)
Place the image of the gate to the work piece.
Click on FILE >> Place >> select the image of the gate.
Scale your placed image up by holding “SHIFT” + clicking on the extreme right edge and dragging it upwards.
N.B, the reason why we decide to place our images is because we intend on leaving it as a smart object in order to retain its resolution and quality anytime we’d want to either scale it up or down;
also, for a better print quality.
Notice how the top of the pillars don’t cross it’s grid boundary?
Our design is starting to get the shape we need.
Now apply a “HARD LIGHT” effect to your gate’s image layer.
You can see how applying this fx effect blends our image with its background.
All we need to do now is to smoothen the edges of the image of the gate.
We first create a layer mask.
What this layer mask does is, as the name goes, LAYER MASK; it tends to mask off a layer without causing any damage to the original image in the layer, but all changes made to the layer is done on the layer mask and can easily be reverted.
Now, grab your brush tool and let’s do a bit of painting!
Make sure that you have the layer mask selected by clicking on the layer mask >> set the foreground/background colour swatch to its default (black/white respectively) by pressing “D” on your keyboard.
Now that is done, select the brush tool (keyboard shortcut “B” on your keyboard) >> select a really soft brush and set its hardness to zero (0).
Paint around the edges to get rid of the unwanted regions.
This is great!
Did you notice how with a bit of manipulation trick, we were able to convert mere stock photos into our own custom image?
With this, you should not be scared of copyright policies.
Step 5 (Book Cover Design – Working with Type in Photoshop):
The font that I will be using for this book cover design is a Niagara Solid. Although you are free to use any font of your choice, just make sure that the font matches the book cover design.
Before we fill in our texts into the design, we have to first set up a layout for it.
In this book cover design, the title of the book “SORROW’S GATE” is placed at the top of the design.
I usually like giving a 10 mm distance from the top (bottom) of my design and the designated text.
Now, remember how we dragged out two vertical rulers in the process of creating a layout for our design? We are now going to do the same thing but this time, we are trying to create a layout for our text (book title).
Divide one of the layouts bounded by the first vertical ruler at the left hand side into two equal parts and drag out a ruler to mark the point of division.
Do the same for the ruler at the right.
Now, select the font of your choice, in this design, I’m going with a NIAGARA SOLID font >> set the size to and color to white
Note that you can use any font size of your choice, just make sure that it does not exceed the layout.
Type in the text of your choice (SORROW’S)
We are now going to build a layout for the remaining part of the title of the book “SORROW’S GATE” and fill in the text “GATE” into it.
Give a little space from the SORROW’S layout to the GATE’S layout using a horizontal ruler to mark out the point. I chose a distance of 0.2 mm.
Now, the same height (10 mm) you used for the SORROW’S layout will be used for the GATE’S layout.
Drag out the horizontal ruler once again to mark out the point.
Type in the text “GATE” in the set up layout.
Step 6 (Book Cover Design – Adding fx Effects to Text in Photoshop)
Select the SORROW’S text layer by simply clicking on it >> click on the fx icon in the layer panel >> click on Bevel and Emboss >> set the Bevel and Emboss to the following settings:
Style = Emboss
Technique = Chisel Soft
Depth = 134%
Direction = Up
Size = 5px
Soften = 0px
Select Drop Shadow and set it to the following settings:
Color = Black
Blend Mode = Multiply
Opacity = 63%
Angle = 120
Distance = 4px
Spread = 0%
Size = 4px
Duplicate these fx effects for the GATE layer and this will be your final result.
Well that is all for now guys, I’d advice you check out this recent post secret to awesome photo manipulation design revealed for some more interesting photo manipulation tricks.
Feel free to share this post to friends, and please don’t forget to grab your own free PSD files download.
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