This tutorial on creating a kid’s book cover started out as a failed experiment on this website’s Facebook fanpage. (I consider it a failed experiment.) I hadn’t completed it due to the lack of activity that the posts and practically all of my posts on that page have thus attracted. Unfortunately Facebook doesn’t distribute fan page posts to all of your fans. Just a handful who “liked” it. I’ll actually reach more people posting on my own website.
At the same time, I wanted to create some pre-hype for my upcoming kid’s book, “Baby Hopper™ Learns Manners” and to share some of my experiences from the journey.
The goal of this series of tutorials is to go step-by-step into creating a kid’s book cover. The concept seems simple, but there’s a lot involved in the process. Or I placed a lot into the process.
So What will We Need?
There are a few hard and fast rules to follow, but the actual creation process can be achieved in most any manner or medium. Chapter 1 will utilized good ol’ pencil and paper.
I prefer to start most any project with pencil and paper because I can quickly rough out and experiment with my ideals. Mentally nothing is set in stone for me. I don’t have to search for fonts, references, etc. I just pull ideas out of my head and onto my sketchbook. I’m not limited by my hardware, software quirks, or where I saved my files. I’m only limited to the number of pages within my sketch book.
The Three Purposes of a Book Cover
The First Purpose of a Book Cover
The first purpose of a book cover is to draw the attention of the potential reader. Often times illustrators and designers attempt to create something eye-catching. Keep in mind that your book is competing with hundred and thousands of other books either on the shelf or on websites such as Amazon.
Also be mindful of your audience and what appeals to them. Readers are divided into demographics. And within each demographic has particular things in common. (i.e. ~ They drive cars, watch a specific type of television, etc.) To create a book and/or a cover that specifically targets a demographic requires some research. Sometimes simple observation will get the job done. In my example, I’m targeting small children. The best place to find them are at grocery stores and discount retailers such as Walmart and Target. (A LOT of moms drag their children to Target BTW.)
There are also themes, topics, ideas, etc that will always appeal to a specific segment of readers no matter what day and age we live in. For example, young boys will always be attracted to media with a lot of action.
The Second Purpose of a Book Cover
The second purpose of a book cover is to sell the book. This ties into what attracts and appeals to your audience. For kids, it’s often the main character that takes center stage of the cover. The book’s title and copy (visible text on the cover) doesn’t overwhelm the cover. The title will often times complement the illustration and/or reinforce the theme of the story.
A cover that sells is a cover that drives the potential customer to believe that they need/want this book now. Or owning this book will bring them a sense of pleasure.
The Third Purpose of a Book Cover
The third purpose of any good book cover is to give the potential reader a rough idea of the story or the book’s theme or story. Sometimes this could feature a scene/pivotal moment from the book.
I want to note that this isn’t absolute. You can create a more general illustration that features the main character(s) from the story, but doesn’t tell you anything about the book’s story.
My Ideas for a Book Cover
My children’s book will be about learning manners. Not an ideal topic for kids, but I still need to create a kid’s book cover that will draw in my potential readers. After mulling this over for a few days I realized that I have either one of two directions to take.
What will attract a child’s attention who just wants to spend as much time as possible experiencing pleasure? Is it a cover demonstrating a well behaved child or a kid who makes a hot mess? A hot mess will likely be more attractive to your average child. The contrast will help make the theme of the book more palatable.
Roughing Out my Ideas
I am creating a kid’s book cover that represents a general theme, a misbehaving child. At this point I will need to rough out some ideas for the right book cover.
When roughing out ideas, you’ll likely have more failures than potential candidates. I honestly had a ton of failures in my sketchbook. My roughs were small and didn’t require much detail.
In the image below are my final four rough sketches.
My Final Rough Sketch
Ultimately, I chose a scene of a little baby bunny in the act of getting caught. Maybe he can use a little charm to fool Mommy into letting him off the hook. But the living room is still trashed and the destruction is everywhere in sight.
What appeals to me is the obvious contrast and the extreme three-point perspective, from Mommy’s view. Most kids have been busted for making a mess. 99.9% of them know that there’s always hell to pay for this crime.
This final rough will serve as a guide for creating my kid’s book cover. I’ve taken very little time with elements such as perspective, lighting, etc. My rough solely focuses upon the layout of all of the elements. Aside from the illustration, I’ve rouged out the type and where the image will be placed within the layout.
Next time, I’ll show you how I used Blender 2.8 to make creating a kid’s book cover way less of a struggle than it could had be.