Truth be told, yes, you should judge a book by its cover, especially when it comes to comic book covers. Read this tutorial to learn some rules for designing a stand-out cover for your graphic novels.
Want to create a comic book covers to attract readers and entice people to buy your comic? Let me help you out. Think of comic book covers like Instagram posts... except with superheroes and people trying to save the world.
These graphic story covers are the first thing to catch a potential buyer's eye and a reader's interest. For that reason, you need to make sure the cover design is engaging and attention grabbing, portraying the heroes' brand style and voice, and overall giving a clue to the story within.
There are many approaches to comic cover art. Follow me and let's learn some necessary basics to designing a good comic cover that stands out from the rest.
And if you need some useful resources for making comic book effects quickly and easily, you can find them here:
- 50+ Insane Comic-Book Style Photoshop Effects and Cartoon FiltersDanny Outlaw23 Aug 2022
1.The Elements of Making a Comic Cover
Before you start laying out your design, you should know which elements to include when making your comic cover. This will enable you to utilise the 'artboard' space correctly and to preview where the main artwork will be positioned. The basic elements to include on a comic cover are:
- Title + Subtitle/Tagline
- Date of Publication
- Series # / Episode #
- Names of artists & designers
To set up the comic book cover template, you may need some graphic design skills tolay out these elements in a well-composed form. Once that's assessed, you can start putting together your thoughts for the cover design. Just make sure to keep the title, series and episode numbers clearly displayed and readable oncethe artwork is laid in.
2.Brainstorm & Conceptualise
If this is your first time creating a cover, it's advisable to first look and get inspired by other comic covers in the market, so do your own research. Search online or visit comic stores to check the latest trends.
For example, if most comic books are colorful and full of art, you can choose to create a simple monotone cover design that will stand out from the crowd.
Think about the concept of your comic cover.
Try putting yourself in the place of the buyer, and ask yourself:
- What would make the cover interesting enough for readers to pick up the comic book?
- Does the cover portray the genre of the story?
- Does the cover illustration present a question of what the storyline is about?
- Is the cover an example of the artwork inside?
- Does the cover communicate the tone of the story?
The comic book illustration is the front face of the story. The main focus is on having the cover illustration reveal the content of the book. If anything, it should reveal a teaser illustration that intrigues customers to pick up and read what's happening within the comic.
For example, if the comic is a family drama, depict a family scene in a critical moment as they are interacting with one another. If it's about a superhero, show the superhero/heroine in a compromising or dangerous position. Make sure your primary character/s are on that cover!
Plan the cover by sketching out a dummy.
To help you conceptualise, sketch out your ideas in thumbnail scale or create a dummy. This will help you work through your ideas and get the best image laid out properly.
Designing a comic book cover artwork is really a technique of composition, and there are a few guidelines to follow to deliver a captivating design, so let's go through them next.
3. Plan the Comic Cover Content
Brainstorm a catchy and fitting title.
Consider some words that might hook your audience in an instant. A title that perhaps reflects the character's behaviour or emotional turmoil, action plot lines, battles, mystery, or perhaps a funny play on words. For example:
- Emotional titles like "Playful Rage" or "Risky Behaviour"
- Comeback titles like "Resurrection' or "The Revival"
- Battle titles like "5 Armies" or "Bloodbath VI"
- Mysterious titles like 'In the Lap of the Gods" or "Hush-Hush"
- Pun titles like "The Great Cat-sby" or "Positivi-tea"
The most common titles either use the main character name, are 'action' based, or have a mysterious tone.
Make sure that whichever title you choose, it connects with the cover art and offers readers a feel for what the story will be like on the inside. So if it's a romantic comic with the title "Love Lounge", then it should probably reflect a love scene or seductive mood on the cover.
Keep in mind that the font or lettering style of the title must fit the mood of the story. So don't use a bubble-shaped title if your story is under a horror genre—instead, go for a distressed look.
- Avoid use of bevels or drop shadow effects. The title should stand out alone.
- Don't load the title design with too much color. Keep it clean and simple.
- Choose readable fonts. Avoid the use of fancy fonts for the title, author, artist, episode #, and series#.
- Bolder and bigger is not better. Keep your title lettering spaced and not crammed in.
Choose which characters to show and how many.
Which characters would you like to place on the comic book cover? Only one main character, two main characters, a villain, a group of people, etc.? It's important to showcase the stars of your comics on the cover, whether it's the villain or the hero.
For instance, showcasing a single character has a more striking appearance than a group of characters. It tends to strengthen the presence of ourstar character and makes it easier for fans to recognise what and who the comic is about. On top of that, single-character covers tend to give a sense of uniqueness, mystery, and the unexpected. It's preferable to avoid too many characters on a cover, as it may look overcrowded and messy.
- Always remember, when positioning characters, that the human eye usually moves from left to right, onto the middle of the page and down to the bottom.
- Keep away from offensive, sexist, and biased content.
- Make sure the characters on the cover have a purpose in the scene.
- Don't overcrowd the design unless you wish to show magnitude.
Distribute and position characters artistically.
Comic covers often show characters performing all kinds of motions, like flying, swinging, running, jumping, falling, etc. There are several ways you can showcase your characters on the comic cover, but let's learn how to do so in a more charismatic way.
- A popular layout is the 'villain vs. hero' face-off. Here, the characters are placed in the classic 'VS" pose, opposite each other.
- Eye contactis when the character staresdirectly into the reader’s eyes. This can create a focus of interest and the unknown.
- Oversizing villains in the background is very dramatic and can create an ill-fated scene with an ominous tone.
- Scaling is usedwhen you wish to show the magnitudeof a 'battle' field. A large number of characters are presented at a smaller scale to give a sense of grandeur to the scene. This also helps to integrate more of the setting or environment of the storyline.
- Pivotal Pointis whena crucial part of the story is presented, for instance thestarcharacter stuck in an extraordinary situation. In this case, make sure the cover is centred on the 'hero' in thatpivotal point of the story. The artwork should reflect a 'hint' of the story within, yet not reveal everything that's going on.
4.How to Incorporate Color Into the Cover Design
The colors you choose for your comic book cover can pique interest as well as drawing attention to the design. When selecting your color palette, make sure it reflects the mood you want to create.
Dark colors convey a sense of evil, suspense, wisdom, or authority. Bright &Lustrouscolors convey friendship, dynamism, confidence, and ambition. Pastels are suitable for innocence, romantic covers, and lighter subject matters.
The color tone you choose for your comic should be unique, eye-catching, and always remain consistent to the comic, or you will confuse readers. It works best when you have a branded color scheme so that the reader can distinguish and recognise the comic book amongst other novels.
- Bright covers arethe first thing that readers may notice. However, if you find there are many bright-covered comics out there, then to stand out, choose to make a darker comic book cover.
- Limited color schemeslike monochrome tones, contrasting colours, or just the use of a bold color or shapes can make up very intriguing comic covers. By using monochrome or bold colors, you can make the cover visible from a distance. Contrast color is also a good method to follow, but it doesn't create a hierarchy of focus points if you are trying to zero in on elements. Contrast colors basically increase visibility and ensure that the cover stands out on the shelf.
- The use of Negative Space or lack of color (made up of a lot of white), is a brilliant composition technique that allows you to draw attention to your subject and creates an air of mystery.
5.How to Compose Characters on the ComicCover
Composition is an important factor when designing the cover. It's how artistic elements are arranged in terms of line work, texture, color, form, space, and so forth to create a balanced image. A nicely composed cover may be achieved by using these compositional tricks:
- Amusingangles: Low angle, overhead, flipped, twisted, etc.
- Askew compositions that place the subject away from the center of the page, adding a sense of motion and interest to the scene.
- Illusion of movement, motion, or action. To convey motion, line drawing is applied: speed lines, motion trails, or draw debris or sweat flying....
- Graphic design elements:Geometric or organic shapes, texture, borders, or frames
- Text Integration: Typography, letters, and lettering are an added value and create dynamic compositions.
Build a mood board, doodle, and play with ideas or word games to generate ideas. Get back to the basics of things and try to spark your imagination, as comic covers play an essential part in comic book sales. Keep in mind that you want to give purpose to your images and maintain artwork that is balanced, clean, and true to the content of the story.
Try to push the forms and angles of your design and create signature looks by adding your own personal style and flavor to the design. That will get you noticed on the comic shelves and amongst the fans.
Creating a comic cover takes a lot of work. Get feedback from friends and family. Ask if the comic book looks interesting enough. Take note of any minor design issues that you may have overlooked, and gather their feedback and suggestions on how you can make the cover look more appealing.
Keep yourself updated on the latest comic trends, and remember that these are just guidelines, and there are always exceptions to these suggestions.
Congratulations! You're Ready!
I hope you were able to learn something new. Now you know the guidelines to creating a good comic book cover, it will steer you in the direction of creating eye-catching designs.
Always remember to have fun and keep your personal style!
If you enjoyed this article and are looking for more comic content, why not check out the following roundups:
- So You Want to Be a Comic Artist?Mary Winkler27 Nov 2015
- Dynamic Comic Book Illustration in Adobe Illustrator Cs6Mike Austin15 Nov 2012
- How to Create a Comic-Book Ink Text Effect in Adobe PhotoshopJan Stverak17 Aug 2018
- 50+ Insane Comic-Book Style Photoshop Effects and Cartoon FiltersDanny Outlaw23 Aug 2022
- How to Turn a Photo Into Comic Book Art in Adobe PhotoshopJohn Negoita10 Dec 2020
What would make the cover interesting enough for readers to pick up the comic book? ›
A good comic book cover design must have three elements: Contrast, Focus, Emotion. Most people assume what makes a good comic book cover is fantastic art. In truth, the artistic elements only make up a fraction of what's needed to create a good cover.What are the elements of a comic book cover? ›
The composition includes three main elements: a logo at the top, characters in the middle, and an environment at the bottom. The characters are the focal point and are surrounded by bold lines to set them apart from the other elements.What is a 1/25 cover in comics? ›
A 1:25 variant means 1 variant is produced for every 25 regular covers printed. Any print run can have any number of ratio variants (1:25, 1:50, 1:500). As the ratio increases, so does the rarity of that variant.How do you make your comic stand out? ›
- Make Them Turn the Page. You want to leave your readers wanting more. ...
- Use Color to Change Scenes. Sometimes it's challenging to transition from scene to scene. ...
- Be Careful With Your Speech Bubbles. ...
- Identify High Points. ...
- Build a Storyboard. ...
- The Last Word.
A bold contrast in your book cover design can help to pull the viewer's eye toward what you want them to notice. Contrasts are often thought of in terms of color, but it can also be created with shapes by placing angular shapes among soft, curved ones.What should be on a book cover to make it appealing? ›
- Give readers a sneak peek of what's to come.
- Let the reader know the book's genre.
- Introduce your protagonist.
- Set the right tone.
- Follow the rules of design in a way that makes sense for your genre.
- Pay attention to the details.
- Have a distinct style.
- Mystery: black, gray.
- Romance: pink, red, purple, white.
- Fantasy: purple, blue, green, silver, gold.
- Sci-Fi: black, gray, red, green, purple.
- Horror: red, black.
Coverless copies that have incomplete interiors, wraps or single pages will receive a grade of 0.1 from CBCS as will just front covers or just back covers. Copies in this designation typically will in most cases be beyond collectability to the majority of the hobby.What all should a book cover have? ›
The essential elements of a front cover include title and author name. Optional elements include the subtitle (if there is one) and photos, background images or graphics.What does T+ mean comics? ›
T+ - TEEN PLUS
Appropriate for readers age 15 and older. May contain moderate violence, mild profanity, graphic imagery and/or suggestive themes.
What does T+ mean in Marvel Comics? ›
ALL AGES – Appropriate for all ages. T – Appropriate for most readers, but parents are advised that they might want to read before or with younger children. T+ TEENS AND UP – Appropriate for teens 13 and above.Why are comics 32 pages? ›
Basic reason: 32 pages can all be printed on a single sheet of paper, making it cost-effective. It's possible to make a book any number of pages, but anything non-standard tends to cost the publisher more money to print.What app do comic artists use? ›
Illustration, manga, and animation professionals choose Clip Studio Paint because of the intuitive feel for drawing. Many schools also use Clip Studio Paint to teach comic, illustration, or animation courses because of the amount of specialized tools.Who is the most famous comic? ›
|Comic series||Creator(s)||Approximate sales|
|Superman||Jerry Siegel Joe Shuster||600 million|
|Batman||Bob Kane Bill Finger||484 million|
|Spider-Man||Stan Lee Steve Ditko||387 million|
|X-Men||Stan Lee Jack Kirby||260 million|
If you're going to write about a superhero, however, you will have to be sure you don't violate any trademark rights. The term “superhero” is owned in a joint registration by DC Comics and Marvel Comics.Is it OK to make fan comics? ›
"Noncommercially distributed fanfic is seen as legal in the United States as long as it's a transformative work.Can I make a comic if I can't draw? ›
Even if you can't draw or paint, you can still construct a comic. Some educators have found the medium to be a good way to entice children into creative writing. Thanks to a variety of apps, you can make your digital comics on a smartphone, a tablet, a computer or even a plain old piece of paper.What are the 5 elements of comic? ›
So let's focus first on the five features that are probably the most important: image style, words and word containers, word-image relationships, undrawn inferences, and layout. You can spend hours exploring them, but here's a brief introduction to each.What does you shouldn't judge a book by its cover? ›
The saying "never judge a book by its cover" or "don't judge a book by its cover" means that you shouldn't judge someone or something based only on what you see on the outside or only on what you perceive without knowing the full situation.Why should you not judge a book by its cover? ›
Question 1: Why you should not judge a book by its cover? Answer 1: We must never judge a book by its cover as looks can be deceptive. Forming opinions solely on the basis of seeing the surface is wrong. It is because after taking a deeper look can we understand what the other person is.
Why do Stolen books not have covers? ›
A stripped book is a mass market paperback that has been stripped of its cover in order to be recycled. The covers are returned to the publisher as evidence that the books have been destroyed and to obtain a credit on the purchase price.Do authors choose their book covers? ›
What Every Writer Should Really Know. It's true that authors almost never contractually have approval over their covers, though they do sometimes have something called “consult” or “consultation” (often negotiated into the contract by an agent).What colors attract readers? ›
The highest-converting are bright primary and secondary colors — red, green, orange, and yellow. Reds are attention-getting.What color grabs the most attention? ›
Red is the color of power. It gets people's attention and it holds it, which is why it's the most popular color for marketing.What color hides the most flaws? ›
We all know that lighter colors emphasize imperfections while darker colors hide them. This also has to do with light and reflection. Lighter colors reflect more light while darker shades absorb it.What is an attractive cover page? ›
A professional and attractive cover page may appeal to the reader and catch his attention. It may serve as a marketing tool in some cases. It saves the time of the reader. For instance, by looking at the topic on the cover page, a reader can decide if he is interested in the work or not.How do you make an attractive magazine cover? ›
- Give the issue title pride of place.
- Flip the layout.
- Use one-point perspective.
- Create a laser cut cover.
- Showcase a sequence.
- Merge the image and the background.
- Create impact with imagery.
- Experiment with transparent shapes.
Paper/cover curl is the result of an increase or decrease in the relative humidity in the environment the books are located. The ideal humidity level to keep paper flat is around 45%RH. Print shops control their climate by adding or reducing the amount of moisture in the air to maintain the 45%RH target.Should I cover my books with plastic? ›
Don't keep books in plastic bags.
They need to breathe, and plastic may trap moisture, encouraging mold, warping, and pests. The plastic may also react with the book. If you really want to store a book in a bag, there are better options – try a paper bag or wrap the book in paper, tissue, or plain cloth.
You've cracked that book's spine. The reason you don't want to do this to either kind of book if you want your books to last a long time. Especially with paperbacks, it damages the glue binding of the book making it easier for pages to eventually start falling out.
What is a 9.0 comic grade? ›
VERY FINE/NEAR MINT (VF/NM) (ONE 9.0)
A comic book that has enough positive qualities to make it better than a VF+, but has enough detracting qualities to keep it from being a NM-. In most cases the comic book has a better appearance than a VF+.
Common examples of grade conversion are: A+ (97–100), A (93–96), A- (90–92), B+ (87–89), B (83–86), B- (80–82), C+ (77–79), C (73–76), C- (70–72), D+ (67–69), D (65–66), D- (below 65).What is the rarest comic? ›
The original issue of Superman No. 1 (1939) is one of the most rare and valuable comic books ever sold as of 2023. In December 2021, Superman No. 1, the first standalone comic featuring the Man of Steel, sold for $2.6 million at Comic Connect.What makes a good book cover design? ›
Here's what makes for a good book cover:
Strong composition. An intriguing focal point. Clear title and subtitles. Keep it simple.
- Look for book cover inspiration.
- Choose your book design software or designer.
- Select your cover dimensions.
- Find images for the book cover.
- Pick your colors.
- Pick your font.
- Test your book cover.
- Create a mockup.
A bold contrast in your book cover design can help to pull the viewer's eye toward what you want them to notice. Contrasts are often thought of in terms of color, but it can also be created with shapes by placing angular shapes among soft, curved ones.What are 5 important elements that belong on a magazine cover? ›
- Issue and dateline.
- Main image.
- Lead article.
- Supporting cover lines.
- Bar code.
The essential elements of a front cover include title and author name. Optional elements include the subtitle (if there is one) and photos, background images or graphics.What is a book cover called? ›
The hard cover of most commercially bound books is known as the case. Hand bound books may not be cased in, but that's another world from what we're looking at here. The hard front and back covers of a book are called the boards.Are book covers worth keeping? ›
Some readers remove their dust jackets—or even use them as bookmarks! But when it comes to rare books or collectible books, dust jackets should be treated with significant care as they often add significant value to the book.
Are double cover comics worth more? ›
Comics are a heavily visual collector's item, and therefore, a multiple cover comic with a marginal difference between exterior and interior covers will be less valuable than a multiple cover with a smaller contrast between cover grades.What is the most eye catching book cover color? ›
Plain white or off-white backgrounds come across as clean, simple, and clear cut book covers. Dark background colors like black or navy blue form book covers that convey a sense of seriousness, suspense or authority.Why soft cover books are better? ›
They are pliable, making them easy to bend and pack into tight spaces. Paperbacks feel more consumable, and we are inspired to plow through them. Paperbacks cost at least half as much as hardcover books to publish. People who like to annotate their books feel less guilty marking up mass-market paperbacks than ...Is hard cover or soft cover better? ›
A paperback is light, compact and easily transportable, able to be bent and stuffed into the corner of a bag. A hardcover, on the other hand, is the strong and beautiful option. They are far more durable than paperbacks, and their beauty and collectability means that they hold their value far better too.