Sounds like me. I’ve got some serious introversion. I like people, I really do. But I can’t describe how much they wear me out.
Want Your Cover To Look Better? I Can Help!!! || Critiques and Graphic Design Advice || Temporarily closed
That is me. You’ve summed up so much of my dynamic when I interact with people. There’s a point where I tell my friends, “hey I love you guys but honestly my batteries are burnt out right now, I have to head out.”
I wish I could tell people that. I told my dad that once and he told me that I guess I must find him boring and not worth my time and I was like…
Oh yea, the fam never quite understands it. Especially if you have a more extroverted family (which I do) and sometimes it really creates some friction.
awww yeahhh. Friction is what I’m good at. I make fires out of my social life.
Ooof, welp you’ve always got a friendly neighborhood Svoosh!
Yeah… thanks. I just tried to reconnect with one of my burned bridges today. It did not go so well.
Heyo! I have arrived and am in need of your services.
Genre: Humor (it’s written in the style of a sitcom)
Intended feelings: Lighthearted, friendly, inviting, funny (also would hope it gets across that it’s a character-based story)
(Edit: alternatively here’s a version with a border and thicker text:)
Hello, I really appreciate your help
Genre: Fantasy with a touch of romance/teen fiction
Intended feelings: A bit of mystery I suppose. Royalty/battle sense. Maybe some romance. I’ve never worked with Fantasy covers before so I’m not entirely sure if I did them right or got the proper intended feelings. The story has to do with fire/water, but I focused largely on the fire aspect. I made three covers and am trying to choose between the three, or maybe edit one to be the best by far. I’m rather new to graphic design, but I used GIMP to make these. I think I may have some issues with smoothly combining pictures.
Alright. For your book cover (review?) I’m going to do a compare and contrast. Cover 1 is the first image posted with the lighter text and no border. Cover 2 is the second image with darker text and border.
Since you wanted the feeling of a lighthearted, friendly, funny sitcom, I’m going to say that you certainly achieved that look. The color palate is very friendly and open and looks very inviting to your readers. It also comes across as a multi-character, character-driven story. So if that’s all you wanted out of your cover, you have definitely achieved that much.
As for little things that could be changed between both covers to make it look better in general, I would suggest tightening the spaces between the letters of your title and aligning the heights a little better. It doesn’t have to be anything drastic, just simple small changes will do. And also, whenever you have multiple pieces of text, you usually want to break them up by using a different style of font. Since the cover does look better with thinner, skinny lettering for the top and the bottom, I would suggest Arial light, Century Gothic, Abadi MT Condensed Light, etc. Something San-Serif. (anything without the little lines one puts at the end of letters like seen in Times New Roman.)
(Also, as a warning, I would double check with whoever designed your cover to make sure that they’re legally using whatever font they’re using. I don’t recognize it, which means it could potentially be a hand-designed font and if they don’t have the legal permission, things could get complicated if you try to use it in any sort of publishing. If you’re the person who designed it, then that shouldn’t be a problem as you will already know the font and the legal license that goes with it. But still, double check.)
Alright. Compare and contrast time!
If I had to suggest which cover to go with, I would say the 2nd one.
The 2nd one has a thicker font which attracts your attention dead center and forces it to remain there, despite there being a huge amount of detail that surrounds it. (Which, as you can guess, the first cover doesn’t do.) The other reason why I would choose the second cover is the (I know there is a specific word for this but my brain is having a total brain fart at the moment of writing this so forgive me for the unprofessional naming of this butttttt) surrounding box/details. The purpose of these is to frame the picture, keeping one’s eyes focused on the image so that they don’t wander it off. However, in this, not only does it frame it, but it makes it more cohesive with the white elements that are displayed all throughout the cover. (It also makes the image look lighter and brighter compared to the first, and light = more friendly, more open in this case)
So overall, these are just suggestions and you could totally ignore me, but hopefully this helped. Sorry for that moment of total forgetfulness, I still can’t think of it. Watch me post this and then go to bed later tonight and be like: THAT’S IT! I REMEMBER WHAT IT’S CALLED!
Are my images showing for you? They aren’t for me no matter what I do
EDIT: Oh, my, I just noticed that I replied to the initial poster. So my feedback is for this cover:
I’m a graphic designer who makes decent money designing covers as a side gig on 99 Designs. Here’s my take.
The Good: The title font and Flourish are good choices. And the indigo/ blue-violet color scheme is spot-on for fantasy and/ or paranormal.
I also really love the minimalist design. Often, people go for flashy graphics. With several merged images, and for fantasy books. a few bright flares and some cliched “magic effects.” But like the Game of Thrones, this design eschews this treand and provides a single, simple, concrete and evocative image that screams “werewolf.”
The Average: While I like the lighter blue-violet text for the text, I’ve have gone for a color contrast. A light color based on school-bus-yellow should compliment it as an extreme contrast. Or an appropriate color triad – indigo paired with light shades of leaf-green and pumpkin-orange for the text and/ or flourishes.
I’d also flip the wolf 180 degrees so it’s facing left-to-right. This is subtle, but since we open books to the right, it’s a subtle invitation to read. The wolf facing left leads you away from the desired action. I’d also change the moon’s or the wolf’s colors (and maybe both) as well.
Again, determining the color scheme would be trial-and-error. But I’d get more color contrast in here somehow.
The Bad: You have a strong display font and a good, minimalist image. But I’d have used a simple contrasting sans-serif font for your name and the series title. This would built a hierarchy that the designer could use color to reinforce. Off the top of my head I think the classic fonts Gil Sans (which ships with most installs of MS Office, giving you paid-for access to it), or the free fonts Alegreya Sans Italic or Montserrat could work here… though I’d need to demo before I was sure since font compatibility is fickle, the few words on a book cover making the letter forms themselves a design element.
I would also shrink the title “Legend,” and align things into neat columns. This often involves resizing text and messing with text-spacing, what we designers call “kerning.” This would create a more organized presentation and give the graphic space to breathe, always a plus.
The Ugly: You’re lucky. While it’s not perfect, there’s nothing hideous here.
As an aside, remember that a cover is a marketing proposition. You also need captivating blurb text. They’re invitations for a reader to read your book.
But they won’t salvage a crappy book.
One of the best covers I’ve ever designed was attached to a book that sucked. The writer also hired a blurb-writer from Reedsy or Fiverr. All told, the marketing was excellent. But that roped hundreds of people into buying a book that ended up sucking. So it ended up recieving like 50 1 & 2-star reviews on Amazon and the book tanked.
Okay. This is probably going to be the longest review I have ever written and that you have ever read because I am going to attempt to bestow upon you years of graphic design knowledge in one review and that is frickin crazy but let’s go. I’m not going to review each cover individually, (I could… but that would require a whole another review) because after I say what I’m going to say there’s probably a big chance that you will want to come in and redesign everything you have going for you. Instead, I will pick out certain elements from each cover and help dissect general topics and examples to help you best understand to achieve the feelings that you’re going for.
Before I even get going I am going to establish that I do not use GIMP and I never have. GIMP is a resource that is totally foreign to me, but I did look up some of the tools that GIMP and photoshop share so I still believe I will be able to assist you. (They’re very similar, they just have a very different layout and look which is a little weird to me.)
So let’s start by breaking down the feelings that you wanted to have when the reader looks at your book. (Keeping in mind, everything is in relation to fantasy. So this will certainly not apply to other genres.)
Mystery: These covers tend to have darker shadows, figures turned away, figures whose faces are hard or difficult to see, or figures (this one is border-line thriller) that have an intense expression on their face. Fantasy books will have a darker color palette than most fantasy books and will rely heavily on blacks, grays, whites, and a splotch of one or two colors. Fantasy mystery books will rarely have more than two colors, and those colors will be used as a focal point.
Royalty: Royalty and battle are two entirely different subjects. Royalty usually implies a palace and politics. Battle usually implies war and fighting. So I’ll be treating these two differently. For royalty, you have certain symbols that are associated with them. These are things like dresses, crowns, jewels, thrones, gold, etc. Royalty palates have jewel tone colors. (If you don’t know what those are, google them and that should help.) If you want to put a person on the cover, what you did on the second book cover is very good. That girl screams royalty.
Battle: You’d think putting a sword on the cover would instantly indicate war. Unfortunately, swords are used more as a tool to date or show the general point in time a book is taking place. To show battle, you’d want people dressed in some sort of armor, carrying multiple weapons or looking like they’re carrying multiple weapons. You’d want them in a fearless, attack-like position and you’d want colors that are both bright and dark. So you’re either on one side of the scale where your covers are very dark, or very bright. As a general rule of thumb, I would avoid using any sort of blood or graves. That just makes your book look cheesy.
Romance: In fantasy, there’s honestly no good examples for romance because no one reads fantasy for romance. The closest thing that I could think of is slapping a beautiful girl on the cover, preferably in a dress of some sort, or having her face be on the cover. Not even joking with this one. There’s really no guide to this as romance usually takes the back seat when it comes to putting together a fantasy cover. The best I can give you is something that probably looks like this:
Think overly feminine. Something that screams feminine stereotypes: dresses, flowers, girls, etc. That’s about as close as you can get to “romance” in the fantasy genre.
Now that we’ve established good things to look for when you’re designing a cover, I’m afraid you’ll have to pick and choose. As you can see, many of these things are very different from one another. A romance book might go well with royalty, as well as mystery and battle, but imagine trying to put mystery and romance together. Or battle and royalty together. They’re very different and have very different looks and feels to them.
As for general tips that I can give you that will help the whole process go along much smoother and easier:
Youtube tutorials in GIMP. If you can’t find that specific tutorial, find one in photoshop. Many of GIMPS tools are the same if not similar to the ones in photoshop, so using a photoshop tutorial should have the same effect. If you cannot find a tutorial, try rewording it or googling a written tutorial. They’re out there, you just have to know what you’re looking for.
You’re going to want to work on the background. Most of your backgrounds are empty and have too much dead space in them, which means that the comparison between background and objects is too much for background. Look in the images above and see how they fill in their backgrounds. The Ash Princess has texture, A Court of Thorns and Roses has objects like branches, A Mark of Athena and The Mortal Instruments have symbols, etc. These will help fill up your empty space.
Get rid of the border that surrounds your images. It looks more like a bleed–which is the part where they cut off the image in production–than a border. It doesn’t look good at all and I would suggest you never go back to using it.
The title needs to be one of your priorities. Make it larger than the rest of the text, more easily seen and possibly a different contrast to the rest of your image. If you’re using a lot of silver on that image, don’t use silver for your font. But if your image is like the first cover, don’t use a color that doesn’t exist within that “universe”, or composition. The flames don’t have a mustard yellow to them and it looks very out of place compared to the rest of the image.
I would suggest rethinking your tagline and the moon. “An entire universe” gives off science fiction vibes and slapping a moon on there only markets it like that. The first cover looks like a different version of a space opera to me, something like Star Wars, etc.
When you do use images, you will need to use high resolution. High resolution means how many pixels per inch, or whatever setting GIMP uses. When I look at your third cover, it blurs the detail on the sword, which tells me that you either used a filter to make it that way or that you used a low-resolution image. This is a problem you’ll run into should you ever try to advertise your book, or should you need to publish the cover.
Your name never goes off to the side like in the last cover. NEVER. Sides are generally reserved for blurbs, quotes, or tag lines. And further more, don’t include the word “by” in there. You don’t need it. Everyone knows who you are if there is a name on the book. You don’t need to add the word “by” to it.
Be careful with the overlay filters. (I assume that’s what you did on the 2nd cover.) You can’t see your name and overlay filters really only work on images that have a lot of color to them. Anything with blacks, whites, or grays will give you a hard time with overlay and lightening.
Be careful including elements into your cover like fire, water, earth, etc. When you include elements, that usually suggests magic with those elements. And if magic with those elements, especially in fantasy, are not a huge part of your book, you’ll get readers who will be disappointed because they will feel like someone mis-marketed to them. (It’s a huge problem and can turn a large part of a would-be fan base away, as you marketed to the wrong people.)
I think I have said enough. I don’t know how much more I can say. My advice is specifically to you to help you get a jump start on designing a fantasy cover that will attract a lot of readers, and reviewing any of your covers one by one won’t really help you. (I can tell that you just started graphic design and I know the frustrations of jumping into something that is overwhelming. This whole thing is an art form, after all.) But none of your covers are covers that will demand the readers’ attention like you want it to and me reviewing them one by one won’t do you any good. And as much as I hate to say it, I think you need to practice a little more before you slap one of those onto your story. I don’t take any joy in saying it, but I don’t want to sugar coat it and have it do you more harm in the future when readers begin to associate cover with story.
If you want more tips, I can certainly give you those in the future. But at the moment, this is probably a lot to take in so I’ll simply leave it at that.
LOLOLOLOLOL You designed a book cover that you loved for a book you hated?! HAHAHAHAHHAA That has got to be the worst kind of irony out there! Most of my book cover designing comes from designing my own book covers, as I design logos and other marketing things for people, but I think that is the funniest thing I’ve read all day. Lol, so sorry. Hope that never happens again. BTW, mind telling me what book it was so I can avoid the book but enjoy the cover?
Thank you so much for your help! Clearly I am very new to all things graphic design and I can’t explain how much your critiques have aided this process! I can’t wait to start fixing and learning more. It was really amazing to get such a long and in depth review
I never read the book. I posted a design based on a description on 99 Designs. The description was good (it turned out the author had hired a blurb specialist too). And as an FYI, that’s standard operating procedure for 99 Designs. You don;t read the book, but design based on the author’s wants and the blurb they provide.
My only look at the book’s actual content was from Amazon’s “Look Inside This Book,” which I’ll do every few months to see how the books I’ve designed for are doing.
And it was pretty bad,
Lol you’re welcome! I’m just glad I can type fast otherwise I would’ve spent the past two hours typing out that monster. And I hope you can use that to get better! There is so much to learn about graphic design and it takes a lot of practice and staring at book covers to pick up trends and patterns. But I wish you the best of luck! If I can learn it, me being no technology geek ever, then you most certainly can!
Oh man. If you only look at the “look inside this book” and it’s that bad, I can’t even imagine what the rest of the book looks like. XD So how’d you get into graphic design? And where did you learn it? No one taught me how to design covers. They don’t offer any college classes like that around where I live. T.T
Being a fast typer is certainly a benefit, especially in the world of Wattpad I’m not sure if this is the right place to ask this question, but do you know of any graphic designers on Wattpad that make fantasy covers? While I really want to develop my graphic design skills I also hope to upload a story soon for which I had made/am working on those covers, but I doubt I’ll be able to make one decent enough anytime soon . Also, this feed is awesome! It’s great getting to see feedback on the different designs!