J. R. R. Tolkien, the English writer considered the father of modern fantasy literature, once said, “Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?”
Even today, his work has influenced many writers in the fantasy genre who aim to immerse readers into new worlds.
However, your duty as a fantasy author doesn’t stop there. Given that the book cover is the first thing your potential readers will see, it also has to make them feel like they’re entering a unique and unknown world.
There are different ideas you can incorporate into your book cover. If you’re a fantasy writer (or reader!), I’m sure you have some ideas in mind. Maybe you want your main characters fighting with their sword against a dragon, or you prefer an image with your heroine’s crown in the background.
Someone is more likely to pick your book from the rest if they like the cover. If they pick up your book, they’re more likely to buy and read it.
No matter what your idea for your design is, the tips in this article will help your fantasy book cover stand out from the rest.
What elements should your fantasy book cover have?
Creating a book cover is a task for someone creative and innovative, and almost everything is valid as long as you follow some basic rules. Every book cover should have at least three elements: the imagery, the font, and the color scheme. With those three at hand, you can proceed to be creative and give shape to any idea you may have.
- Imagery: it refers to the images that will appear on your book cover. It is usually a created design that can be a photograph, an illustration, a symbol, or a combination of these. In a fantasy book cover, the theme you touch in your story can influence how the book cover will look. Does your fantasy book touch on themes like friendship and love? Or is it a dark fantasy? You can get as imaginative as you’d like with the image since most of the time is the focal point on the book cover.
- Font: refers to the font used to display the author’s name, the book’s name, and sometimes a subtitle. In the case of fantasy book cover fonts, it is common for the font to be serif, and sometimes the author and title will share a font.
- Color scheme: books need to follow a color theme because, otherwise, the cover can look disorganized and unflattering to the viewer. Most fantasy books have dark palettes like blue, purple, and gold. The color you choose will also depend on the theme of your book. Romance and urban fantasy benefit from lighter tones, while epic fantasy benefits from darker colors.
Essential Tips for Creating a Fantasy Book Cover Design
When creating a book cover, the designer must have the ability to know what to do so that the book cover will have the desired effect on the people who see it. You want them to pick your book and read it.
With fantasy books, there may be some unwritten rules about what to do and what not to do, and lucky you, I’ll be summarizing them in this article. Keep on reading.
- Embrace the clichés
When I started writing, I told myself I would never write clichés. But the more I wrote, the more I realized that was impossible. Later on, I realized the same goes for design.
If you’ve ever seen the fantasy section of a bookstore, you’ll notice how similar some of the covers are. However, far from being annoyed like I was, you can use this to your advantage.
You will see images of protagonists in battle, serif and metallic typefaces, and dark colors. Ask yourself: What elements would I like to have on my book cover? Which ones would I discard completely? With fantasy book covers, clichés work because people like familiarity.
- Set the tone and mood from the beginning
Although sometimes used interchangeably, these two concepts are different.
Tone refers to how the author narrates the story through words and language to the reader. On the other hand, the mood is how your audience feels about what they’re reading. In short, the tone helps to set the mood.
Once you finish your story, you know those two better than anyone else. If it’s a YA fantasy, maybe the themes you touch on are light, like romantic love, friendship, and bravery, and the cover can show that with light colors.
Contrarily, if your book is dark or epic fantasy, your book cover would benefit more from darker colors. We tend to associate happiness with light and sadness with dark. Keeping that in mind is crucial in design.
- Establish your target audience
When you start writing, you must be clear about who you are writing for. It will help you define the tone of your story. It’s similar to design.
Ask yourself, who do you want to read your story? If your book is for a younger audience, your fantasy book cover will benefit from illustrations and bright colors. On the other hand, if your book is for an adult audience, minimalist designs are your best option.
You need a book cover that appeals to the intended audience because if not, you may give the wrong message to your potential readers.
- Go easy with the fonts
When I created one of my first book cover designs, I thought the title, author, and subtitle should be in different fonts. However, I later realized that using up to 4 fonts on a book cover didn’t work. With fantasy book covers, for the most part the focal point will be the imagery, so with the font, sometimes less is more.
Another tip I can give you is to avoid handwritten or script fonts. If you want your book cover to look classy, stick to simple serif fonts. When in doubt regarding the color, black or white works well.
- Use symbolism
If featuring your main character on your fantasy book cover is not your preference, consider using a symbol as the protagonist instead. Using symbols is a subtle yet effective way to connect with your audience and show what your book is about. In turn, it adds mystery and excitement. As long as the symbol symbolizes an essential weapon or artifact that makes the plot go forward, it can cause intrigue and give your book an original touch.
Making a fantasy book cover design can feel like an arduous task. However, it doesn’t have to be.
By following those tips, you can ensure a fantasy book cover that will make viewers pick your book from the rest. Remember, you can create a beautiful fantasy book cover using symbolism, embracing clichés, and establishing your target audience.
Take the time to choose a designer for your book cover that understands the tips on this article. That way, you can have a book cover that conveys the essence of your story while being visually striking.