1. Design & Illustration
  2. Book Design

How to Design a Book Cover

Scroll to top
Read Time: 9 min

Wondering how to become a book cover designer? Learn how to design a book cover in this free course. We'll explore cover design for books, book cover art, and more, as we create a book design cover together.

Watch the Full How to Design a Book Cover Course

What You'll Learn

  • How to design a book cover
  • How to find inspiration for book cover art
  • How to figure out sizing for a book design cover
  • How to set up a book cover design
  • How to make the back cover and spine when designing book covers
  • How to expand your cover design for books in a series

About Your Instructor

Grace FussellGrace FussellGrace Fussell

1. Intro to How to Design a Book Cover

1.1 Introduction to Designing Book Covers

Watch video lesson (1 min) ↗

Welcome to the course! If you've ever wanted to learn how to design a book cover, you're in the right place. We're going to focus on creating a book cover for a paperback book. This includes the front, spine, and back cover. By the end of this course, you'll have a completed, professional book cover design. Let's learn book cover design together.

"Learn to design book cover art that's not only engaging, attractive, and genre appropriate, but also technically flawless."

1.2 What You'll Need for This Book Cover Design

Watch video lesson (2 mins) ↗

In this lesson, we'll discuss everything you need to get started, as we learn book cover design basics. To begin, you can download the source files you'll need to work along.

Download the Source Files 

For our software, we'll use Adobe InDesign to create our book cover design. Keep in mind, as with many types of design and design projects, there is no absolute right or wrong in regard to which design software you prefer. However, InDesign is a popular choice in the industry, and that's what we'll use in this case.

If you don't have the Adobe InDesign software, Adobe offers a seven-day free trial, so you can give it a try before making a commitment.

We'll go through everything step by step in this course—but if you'd like to learn more about InDesign, check out our Free Adobe InDesign for Beginners Course too. It's a wonderful (and free!) resource.

InDesign for Beginners 

Additional Assets From Envato Elements:

We'll also use these additional assets from Envato Elements. Feel free to download them as you follow along, or you can use other resources (images, fonts, etc.) of your choice.

2. How to Find Creative Direction for Your Book Design Cover

2.1 Genres, Styles, and Sizing for Your Book Design Cover

Watch video lesson (4 mins) ↗

Designing book covers requires insight and know-how—it requires a lot of thought and consideration for your target audience. In this lesson, we'll take a look at ways to appeal to your target audience, as well as researching and getting to know your genre.

Do visual research to get to know your genre. Look for trends and aspects that your target audience finds most appealing—then you can use those expectations and preferences to your advantage.

Looking for a bit of extra inspiration? Check out these roundups from Envato Tuts+ for even more eye-catching design ideas:

Visual inspiration does not mean copying—it is understanding preferences and aesthetic qualities. Source your imagery and fonts from an appropriate, professional source, especially for commercial cover designs for books.

2.2 How to Size Your Book Cover Design

Watch video lesson (3 mins) ↗

One of the biggest questions you might have, when it comes to how to design a book cover, is likely about the technical stuff—like sizing. There are so many different sizes to choose one. Which is right for your book cover design?

Book Design Cover SizeBook Design Cover SizeBook Design Cover Size

In this lesson, we'll explore:

  • What is a hardcover book?
  • What is a paperback book?
  • What is the difference between hardcover and paperback?
  • How do you figure out book cover art sizes?
  • What are some standard book sizes?
  • Turning to your chosen printer or publisher to choose a book size
Keep in mind that even standard book sizes can vary from country to country. When sizing your cover, verify this information with your publisher or printer to avoid making mistakes.

3. How to Design Your Book's Front Cover

3.1 How to Draft the Front of Your Cover Design for Books

Watch video lesson (2 mins) ↗

Time to start digging into the fun part—the book cover art itself! In this lesson, we'll jump into Adobe InDesign and start laying out the basics of our book cover design. Most professional book cover design starts with a visual plan.

We'll begin this Book Cover Design lesson with:

  • Setting up our InDesign document
  • Tips for mapping out our book design cover content
  • Using guidelines when designing book covers
InDesign GuidesInDesign GuidesInDesign Guides
An example of guidelines used to map out a book design cover
Planning your book cover design with tools like guidelines can help take the guesswork out of your design process.

3.2 How to Refine Your Book Cover Design: Part 1

Watch video lesson (6 mins) ↗

Now that we've made a visual plan, it's time to start adding type and imagery to our cover. In this lesson, we'll walk through how to add and manipulate content to our book design cover in Adobe InDesign.

InDesign Book CoverInDesign Book CoverInDesign Book Cover
InDesign Cover DesignInDesign Cover DesignInDesign Cover Design
Book Cover DesignBook Cover DesignBook Cover Design
Remember, design is a process! Experiment with fonts, visuals, and the association between them. Reflect on your visual research, but also trust your design skills as you build your layout.

3.3 How to Refine Your Book Cover Design: Part 2

Watch video lesson (9 mins) ↗

In this lesson, we'll take our design concept and push it even further. Experiment with color, subtle gradients, and more, as we expand the book cover art and its overall aesthetic.

How to design a book coverHow to design a book coverHow to design a book cover
Our initial book cover design layout
Book cover designBook cover designBook cover design
Our book design cover after refinements

4. How to Expand Your Book Cover Design

4.1 How to Expand Your Design Into a Full Cover

Watch video lesson (8 mins) ↗

After creating the general concept for our book cover design, we'll expand this concept. A professional book cover design needs a spine and a back cover. In this lesson, we'll do just that—let's take the aesthetic we created and turn it into a complete book cover design for our entire paperback book—front, side, and back.

Book Cover Design InDesignBook Cover Design InDesignBook Cover Design InDesign
Expand your book cover art to include the back cover and spine in this lesson

4.2 How to Export Your Book Cover Art for Printing

Watch video lesson (4 mins) ↗

Once you've created a design that you love, it's time to prepare the book cover design for printing. This can seem like a daunting task—but don't worry! In this lesson, we'll walk through all of the basics of preparing your book cover art for printing. 

export book design artexport book design artexport book design art
Export your book cover design so it's all ready to be professionally printed
Remember, check with your printer or publisher for print specifications too. The more you inform yourself, the better armed you will be to create and deliver the perfect book design cover for your project.

5. Designing Book Covers: What's Next?

5.1 What We Learned About Book Cover Design

Watch video lesson (3 mins) ↗

We've covered a lot of content on cover design for books. Here's a quick recap. In this course, we explored:

  • How to source information and ideas
  • Awareness of genre and its potential impact on design
  • How to draft a book cover design layout
  • How to work with graphics in Adobe InDesign
  • How to format typography in InDesign
  • How to create a book cover spine and back book cover
  • Key skills to learn how to become a book cover designer
  • And more!

It doesn't end there, either! You could take these ideas and expand them to other book design covers in a series, for example. Check out this book design art that matches the one we created in this course:

Book Design ArtBook Design ArtBook Design Art
An example of our book cover design applied to another book in the same series.
Do you want to speed up your design process? Head over to Envato Elements to download unlimited book cover templates, book cover mockups, and more!

Learn More About Book Cover Design

Love book design and want to learn more? There's even more video content to check out on Envato Tuts+. Tune in today and continue to push your book cover design skills to the next level.

Did you find this post useful?
Want a weekly email summary?
Subscribe below and we’ll send you a weekly email summary of all new Design & Illustration tutorials. Never miss out on learning about the next big thing.
Start your 7-day free trial*
Start free trial
*All Individual plans include a 7-day free trial for new customers; then chosen plan price applies. Cancel any time.