These are things that I wish I had known when I first started freelancing as a cover artist. In hindsight some of them seem pretty obvious but I honestly didn’t think to check for these. If you feel I missed something send me an email and the updated version will show up on this document.
Tips for Cover Art
Not about personal style
Know the material
What is the genre? What is the tone? What is the message?
I find it best to read through the work I’m creating cover art for but if you don’t have time for that ask the editor/author for the bullet points and any significant excerpts.
while reading write down important scenes or phrases.
Do some research on the time period/genre of the book, see what other cover artists have come up with or what era-appropriate design elements you can include in your design.
Authors deserve input as well but not all authors (or people in general) know exactly how to explain what they want or even the finished look they want. Ask your author (or editor) what it is that they WANT, the feeling, the expression, the style, the overall message and then you can start a conversation about the expectations and what can/can not be achieved. Communication is key on both ends.
Rule of thirds
Direct the eye to main subject while still keeping it flowing throught the page
Account for Title and Author
Figure out the layout of the Title, Author, and Blurb and how they’ll fit within the illustration. You’ll want a higher contrast between the words and the background so keep it in mind.
Some authors or book series may have a set template for the composition or a set frame for all the significant elements to create continuity between volumes.
Don’t forget to make the spine stand out and flow in theme to the cover as well. Sometimes all a person sees is the spine so keep that in mind. (if you’re designing it)
Title should almost always be significantly larger than the Author’s name.
Try not to use more than 2 fonts on the cover
Theme appropriate font
Space the title and author to span the width as much as possible
Do not stretch or skew the font you’re using, keep it the ratio the designer originally intended.
Add a blurb (if applicable)
Extra - Opinions!
email adjustments/additions to firstname.lastname@example.org