How to Design a Fantasy Book Cover: A Step-by-Step Guide


If you’re an author diving into the world of self-publishing, designing a book cover can be an intimidating task—especially for the fantasy genre, where covers play a critical role in attracting potential readers. A compelling fantasy book cover can significantly impact the success of your book. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through the step-by-step process of designing a fantasy book cover that captivates your reader’s imagination.

Understanding the Elements of a Fantasy Book Cover

A fantasy book cover tells a story of its own and gives a glimpse into the world you’ve created. To create an effective cover, it’s essential to understand and incorporate key elements that define the fantasy genre.

Fantasy is a genre that is all about imagination and creativity. It’s a genre that takes readers on a journey to a world that is different from our own. A world where magic exists and anything is possible. A fantasy book cover should capture the essence of this magical world and entice readers to delve into its pages.

Color Schemes and Typography

Muted and warm colors are a staple in fantasy book cover design as they convey a sense of mystery and intrigue. These colors create a feeling of warmth and comfort, which is essential in a genre that often deals with dark and scary themes. The use of typography is also crucial in creating a fantasy book cover. Fonts that feature medieval and gothic elements can immediately evoke the fantasy aesthetic and transport readers to a different time and place. Combining both elements can create a harmonious effect that is perfect for a captivating fantasy book cover.

When choosing the right color scheme and typography for your fantasy book cover, it’s important to consider the mood and tone of your story. If your story is dark and brooding, you may want to use darker colors and more gothic typography. However, if your story is more lighthearted and whimsical, you may want to use brighter colors and more playful typography.

Imagery and Illustrations

Most fantasy book covers feature an illustration, often the main character or a symbol that represents a vital aspect of the story. When choosing an illustration, ensure that it relates well with the story and has a unique look that sets your book apart from others. The illustration should be eye-catching and draw the reader’s attention, but it should also be relevant to the story. It should give readers a glimpse into the world you’ve created and make them want to explore it further.

When creating an illustration for your fantasy book cover, it’s important to work closely with your illustrator to ensure that the final product is exactly what you envisioned. You may want to provide them with detailed descriptions of your characters and settings, or even sketches or reference images to help them bring your vision to life.

Symbolism and Themes

The use of imagery and symbols can convey a deeper meaning and give insight into the book’s themes. It’s essential to take the time to understand the themes that underpin your book and identify symbols that communicate these themes to the reader effectively. For example, if your book deals with themes of love and sacrifice, you may want to use a symbol such as a heart or a rose to convey these ideas.

When incorporating symbolism into your fantasy book cover, it’s important to strike a balance between subtlety and clarity. You want readers to be able to understand the symbolism without it being too obvious or heavy-handed. The use of symbolism can add an extra layer of depth and meaning to your book cover and make it more appealing to readers.

In conclusion, a fantasy book cover is an essential element in the marketing and promotion of your book. It should capture the essence of your story and transport readers to a world of magic and imagination. By incorporating the key elements of color schemes, typography, imagery, and symbolism, you can create a book cover that is both captivating and meaningful.

Gathering Inspiration and Ideas

Designing a book cover can be a daunting task, but gathering inspiration and ideas can make the process easier and more enjoyable. Before you start designing, take the time to explore different sources of inspiration and consider how they can inform your design choices.

Researching Popular Fantasy Book Covers

If you’re designing a book cover for a fantasy novel, researching popular fantasy book covers is a great place to start. Look for covers that catch your eye and make note of the elements that appeal to you. Are there any common themes or design elements that you notice? How can you incorporate these elements into your own design?

When researching book covers, it’s also important to consider what doesn’t work. Are there any covers that are too busy or cluttered? Are there any design choices that seem out of place or don’t fit with the genre? By identifying what doesn’t work, you can avoid making the same mistakes in your own design.

Identifying Your Target Audience

Knowing your target audience is essential when designing a book cover. Consider who will be reading your book and what design elements will appeal to them specifically. If your target audience is young adults, for example, you may want to use bold, eye-catching colors and imagery that reflects the themes and tone of the book.

When identifying your target audience, think about their age range, gender, and preferences. Are they more likely to be drawn to a minimalist or a bold design? Do they prefer bright, vibrant colors or muted, understated tones? By understanding your target audience, you can make design choices that will resonate with them.

Creating a Mood Board

A mood board is a collection of images and inspiration that help you to visualize your book cover design. It’s a great way to organize your ideas and ensure that all the design elements complement each other. You can create a mood board using tools such as Pinterest, Canva or Adobe Spark.

When creating a mood board, start by gathering images that reflect the themes and tone of your book. Look for images that capture the mood and atmosphere of the story, as well as design elements that you want to incorporate into your cover. As you add images to your mood board, consider how they work together and how they can inform your design choices.

By taking the time to gather inspiration and ideas, you can create a book cover that not only looks great but also resonates with your target audience. So before you start designing, take the time to explore different sources of inspiration and consider how they can inform your design choices.

Planning Your Cover Design

With your ideas and inspiration gathered, it’s time to begin planning your cover design. A book’s cover is the first thing a reader sees, so it’s essential to make a good impression. A well-designed cover can attract readers, evoke emotions, and convey the book’s themes.

Choosing the Right Layout

Choosing the proper layout is crucial to the success of your book cover design. The layout should be visually appealing and stand out on the bookshelf. Consider the placement of the title and the illustration. The title should be easy to read even in thumbnail size, and the illustration should be eye-catching and relevant to the book’s story.

There are several layout options to choose from, including a centered title with an illustration above or below it, a title and illustration side by side, or a title overlaid on the illustration. Experiment with different layouts to find the one that best fits your book’s style and tone.

Selecting the Perfect Font

The right font can make or break a book cover design. It should complement the illustration and convey the right mood. Choose a font that’s easy to read and evokes the fantasy aesthetic. Medieval or script-style fonts are popular choices for fantasy book covers.

When selecting a font, consider the book’s genre, tone, and audience. A horror novel may call for a bold, eerie font, while a romance novel may require a more delicate, flowing font.

Incorporating Imagery and Illustrations

The illustration is the centerpiece of the cover and sets the tone for the book’s story. Ensure that it’s beautifully rendered and that it catches the reader’s attention. Consider hiring a professional illustrator to create a custom illustration that perfectly captures the book’s themes and mood.

In addition to the main illustration, consider incorporating additional imagery and symbols that convey the book’s themes. For example, if the book is about a quest for a magical artifact, include an image of the artifact on the cover. These additional elements can create a more profound connection with the reader and make the cover more memorable.

By carefully planning your cover design and incorporating the right layout, font, and imagery, you can create a cover that not only attracts readers but also accurately reflects the book’s story and themes.

Working with a Professional Designer

It’s possible to design your cover independently, but working with a professional designer can take your cover design to the next level. A professional designer has the skills and expertise to create a cover that is not only visually appealing but also effectively communicates your book’s message to your target audience.

When you work with a professional designer, you can expect to receive a cover that is not only beautiful but also well-crafted. A professional designer has access to high-quality design tools and resources, which allows them to create a cover that stands out from the rest.

Finding the Right Designer for Your Project

When looking for a professional designer, consider their portfolio to evaluate their style and see if it’s a good fit for your project. Take a look at their previous work to see if they have experience designing book covers. You can also ask for references or reviews from their previous clients to ensure that they deliver quality work.

It’s important to find a designer who understands your vision and can bring it to life. Look for someone who is willing to listen to your ideas and work collaboratively with you to create a cover that you are happy with.

Communicating Your Vision

Communicate your vision and ideas clearly to your designer. Remember, your book cover should communicate your story, so ensure that the designer understands the themes and elements you wish to convey to the reader. Provide the designer with a synopsis of your book and any relevant details about the characters, setting, or plot that could inspire the design.

Be open to the designer’s suggestions and ideas, but also be firm about what you want. A good designer will be able to take your ideas and turn them into a beautiful and effective cover.

Revisions and Feedback

Lastly, work collaboratively with your designer and give feedback to ensure that the design meets your expectations. Be open to making changes and revisions as needed to achieve the perfect cover that will capture the reader’s attention. Remember that the cover is the first thing a potential reader will see, so it’s important to get it right.

When giving feedback, be specific about what you like and don’t like about the design. This will help the designer understand your preferences and make the necessary changes. Don’t be afraid to ask for revisions until you are completely satisfied with the final product.

Working with a professional designer can be a rewarding experience that results in a beautiful and effective cover for your book. By finding the right designer, communicating your vision clearly, and providing feedback throughout the process, you can create a cover that captures the essence of your book and attracts readers.


Designing a book cover is a vital aspect of the publishing process- don’t take it for granted. Take the time to plan your design and ensure that it aligns with your book’s themes and your target audience’s preferences. Keep in mind that a book cover should not only be visually appealing but should also tell your story effectively. Incorporate the tips in this guide, and you’ll be well on your way to designing a fantasy book cover that will leave a lasting impression on your readers.