Tutorial: Design Your Cover

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

HistorySleuth

Researching History's Mysteries
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Dec 1, 2008
Messages
3,791
Reaction score
854
Location
Western New York State
Website
www.gahwny.org
Very nice Gale! I like the effect on the type. Maybe KatieJ just needs a lighter color border or shadowing around "Devil's Daughter" to make the letters pop.
 

Gale Haut

waxing digital artistic
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 1, 2010
Messages
3,057
Reaction score
574
Location
The Swamplands
Website
www.galehaut.com
I agree with History Sleuth that daughter's needs to pop more. But overall, I think you did a wonderful job on your cover. Congrats!
 

HistorySleuth

Researching History's Mysteries
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Dec 1, 2008
Messages
3,791
Reaction score
854
Location
Western New York State
Website
www.gahwny.org
I like your cover too KatieJ. Especially the way it looks like she is holding the word Devil's. And the outline on that makes the word more defined. It's good you are being particular so it comes out well. Some covers out there are plain awful.

I'm working on one too for a non-fiction book I plan to self publish. When I get it laid out can I post it here for you guys to look at? If you don't mind. :e2flowers
 

toraguru

Tryhard
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 12, 2011
Messages
79
Reaction score
1
Location
Manitoba
Hello, I read something in a Photoshop guidebook a while ago that I can't seem to find, but I located this article here that basically covers it. It's about choosing font for your project and how to make sure it is the right font.
Ex: don't use Comic Sans on a book about a murder mystery. (Well, don't use Comic Sans EVER, but you catch my drift)

http://naldzgraphics.net/tips/choosing-right-typography-font/
 

Rachel Udin

Banned
Joined
Nov 19, 2010
Messages
1,514
Reaction score
133
Location
USA... sometimes.
Website
www.racheludin.com
Typography--you need a section on that, because it drives me nuts on covers. (It's my number one complaint on self-published books) Stuff like margins, leading, tracking, rivers, lakes, readability of fonts, when to put words v. image v. both, getting the right font for your cover (So don't put on an Art Nouveau font on a retro cover), and concentrate more on the negative space issues than decorating the fonts. (Also where to find free fonts)

A good cover can also be done on very good typography alone.

Also image/typography harmony.

Typography is tricky, which is often the person who does the typography for the cover is separate from the actual artist who draws the cover. Writers often don't appreciate a good job with type... because unlike images, good type you can't appreciate until it goes horribly wrong. (Like ice skating).

Also think about the whole cover rather than the front cover... the spine and the back cover need consideration too. (Also jargon like bleeds, etc probably will need a section as well)
 

BigWords

Geekzilla
Super Member
Registered
Joined
May 22, 2009
Messages
10,670
Reaction score
2,360
Location
inside the machine
Jumping in with another font-related bit of advice - and these will probably be more useful in a typography-specific thread - be aware of what others are doing, and try to maintain your individuality. There are (figuratively, but probably soon to be literally) a gazillion books, film posters and general adverts using something strong such as Impact (or Agency FB, Arial, Gill Sans, Haettenschweiler) in dark (or black) against a light (or white) background to indicate importance. It is fast becoming rather predictable and tired.

There's also the lookalike aspect to watch out for in general. It is fine for Asylum to do their mockbuster posters riffing off a current blockbuster film, but you want your title to stand out alongside the other books in your genre, not blend in. If I see one more book which tries to be Twilight I'll have to be physically restrained to stop myself ripping my eyeballs out.
 

Rachel Udin

Banned
Joined
Nov 19, 2010
Messages
1,514
Reaction score
133
Location
USA... sometimes.
Website
www.racheludin.com
Be aware of falling in the trap of using Helvetica as a default too. It's not that it's a bad font, but that it's used on *lots* of store signs. You should watch the movie on it.

Another faux pas I see often is people trying to cram as many fonts as possible onto the front cover. Please don't. If you need more than one, then go for two. If you are trying to push your luck with three, you need to rethink your design. Less is more with type.

My typography professor also pointed out that people using Black Letter automatically on a Fantasy Novel or Chinese fonts on an Asian take out menu is often in bad taste. It's screaming a bit too much, "Do you get it yet? THIS IS ASIAN" Plus he had several larger complaints about using script fonts or copperplate for branding titles. But that rant is rather long... maybe we need a guide to typography thread too? Type is this subtle balance between blending in and standing out just in the right ways.

A lot of what Steve Jobs learned in type classes, he applied to the definition of how Apple Computers would look. His mantra was "simplify" so it is with type. Sometimes the least you do with it is the most.

And Comic Sans is evil, but I think most people already have covered this. Even the creator of Comic Sans.

Oh and this applies to *any* design. Negative space doesn't mean it's "empty" and you need to therefore "fill" it. It has a function in design. Respect negative space. It can help you rank importance as much as positive space. <-- Saying this because some clients of mine have insisted that all negative space should be filled. o_O; Ummm... no. That looks like hording to me.
 
Last edited:

Gale Haut

waxing digital artistic
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 1, 2010
Messages
3,057
Reaction score
574
Location
The Swamplands
Website
www.galehaut.com
Rachel, I think that I covered some of those things in the tut, though it is still lacking in many areas. I haven't had time to update it yet.

For example, it especially needs a nice big section on typography. And seeing as that is one of the things I have the least experience in, I could use the help. If you could post a nice, easy to understand, beginner's guide to typography for making cover art, I will happily add a link to the post number in the the Table of Contents.

Thanks for jumping in!

EDIT: Of course, you could make a new thread since the subject is rather large.
 
Last edited:

Purple Rose

practical experience, FTW
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 17, 2011
Messages
2,129
Reaction score
963
Website
alxblog.net
^I hate when people use 3d text or comic sans on their covers. It looks cheap and very "look at me, my inner fifth grader designed this."

hahaha... I know what you mean and agree in general.

However, my front cover, back cover and spine were all designed by a fifth grader. She has just started grade 6 but she was in grade 5 when it was done in April. It ended up costing me a small fortune because while the design was great, she could not execute it - I had to contact the font creator myself to customise my title using the same typeface the designer found online. Then I had to find someone to illustrate the butterfly (her mother did it eventually). The publisher's graphic artist put all the elements together into final art.

My publisher was going to organize everything with his own team but the kid wanted the opportunity and I'm glad I gave it to her.

Goes to show that a talented fifth grader could in fact design a good cover :D

428957_319248581504580_620024041_n.jpg
 

thebloodfiend

Cory
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Apr 2, 2011
Messages
3,771
Reaction score
630
Age
28
Location
New York
Website
www.thebooklantern.com
hahaha... I know what you mean and agree in general.

However, my front cover, back cover and spine were all designed by a fifth grader. She has just started grade 6 but she was in grade 5 when it was done in April. It ended up costing me a small fortune because while the design was great, she could not execute it - I had to contact the font creator myself to customise my title using the same typeface the designer found online. Then I had to find someone to illustrate the butterfly (her mother did it eventually). The publisher's graphic artist put all the elements together into final art.

My publisher was going to organize everything with his own team but the kid wanted the opportunity and I'm glad I gave it to her.

Goes to show that a talented fifth grader could in fact design a good cover :D

428957_319248581504580_620024041_n.jpg

That's pretty cool.

When I was in fifth grade, kids didn't have computers -- Photoshop was completely out of their reach. They got excited over the possibility of using Joker and Papyrus over a bright, neon gradient. Nice to know those days are slowly ending.
 

Gale Haut

waxing digital artistic
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 1, 2010
Messages
3,057
Reaction score
574
Location
The Swamplands
Website
www.galehaut.com
That's pretty cool.

When I was in fifth grade, kids didn't have computers -- Photoshop was completely out of their reach. They got excited over the possibility of using Joker and Papyrus over a bright, neon gradient. Nice to know those days are slowly ending.

I remember in grade school the first time I drew a picture on a screen in MS Paint by filling in pixels. The computer lab lady was really excited and made me show her how to do it. Good times...
 

Rachel Udin

Banned
Joined
Nov 19, 2010
Messages
1,514
Reaction score
133
Location
USA... sometimes.
Website
www.racheludin.com
I remember in grade school the first time I drew a picture on a screen in MS Paint by filling in pixels. The computer lab lady was really excited and made me show her how to do it. Good times...
I feel old. My first program in this area was Superpaint for the mac, which if I'm not mistaken, is older than MS Paint. Mind you, this is the days before the blessed tablet too.
 

Alessandra Kelley

Sophipygian
Staff member
Moderator
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Mar 27, 2011
Messages
15,973
Reaction score
3,068
Location
Near the gargoyles
Website
www.alessandrakelley.com
I feel old. My first program in this area was Superpaint for the mac, which if I'm not mistaken, is older than MS Paint. Mind you, this is the days before the blessed tablet too.

I did math on an electric typewriter in a giant refrigerated room. If we were very good we had the option of letting the typewriter type rows and rows of characters to make pictures, if you squinted a bit.

By the time I got to art school we had Macintosh IIs with 8-bit art programs. The teacher was very excited by Hypercard, but could not understand why I wished to make pages linked by images in the form of a labyrinth.
 

Gale Haut

waxing digital artistic
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 1, 2010
Messages
3,057
Reaction score
574
Location
The Swamplands
Website
www.galehaut.com
Is superpaint more super than MS paint?

I think that when I used it MS was brand spanking new. It was a big deal when the computers came in and they herded us all into the lab to oggle over them.

They were not Macs. I do remember that much for sure. My first mac experience was unpleasant.

I did math on an electric typewriter in a giant refrigerated room. If we were very good we had the option of letting the typewriter type rows and rows of characters to make pictures, if you squinted a bit.

By the time I got to art school we had Macintosh IIs with 8-bit art programs. The teacher was very excited by Hypercard, but could not understand why I wished to make pages linked by images in the form of a labyrinth.

This sounds like pure awesome! Did you make it? And--and--and can we see it?

As to the typewriter art... I have always been kind of fascinated by ascii, though I can't say I've ever done it. There was a short lived resurgence of it on facebook.