How to Create a Book Cover Using Canva
A while ago, we published an article talking about what makes a good cover. This time, we’re here to provide you with a guide on how to create a book cover based on the principles covered in that article. In our experience, the best and easiest tool for the job if you’re a beginner (or on a budget) is the free graphic design tool, Canva. Below, you’ll find a step by step guide on how to utilize this tool to create a professional-looking cover for your self-published book.
1. Gather Ideas and Inspiration
Before you can start creating your cover, you obviously have to know what you’re going to put on it. If you need some tips on how to conceptualize your cover, check out the article we wrote on the topic. If you’re looking to find some photos to use, you can find huge selections of copyright-free images on Unsplash, Pexels, and Pixabay, which you can use at no cost.
2. Determine Cover Dimensions
In step 5 of the publishing process on the Mybestseller platform, you’ll find the cover dimensions for your book. Make a note of these, as you’ll need them to make your cover image the right size!
Also, keep in mind that the cover dimensions will change depending on how many pages you have in your book, as more pages require a wider spine. It is therefore important to make sure that you have your final draft uploaded when determining the size of your cover image. If you already know how many pages your book will have, you can calculate the dimensions of your cover here. Take a look at the image below to see which numbers you should be looking at when specifying the size of your cover image:
If you’re planning on designing a cover for an ebook, you’ll only see cover dimensions for your front cover, as ebooks don’t have back covers or spines. As such, you can skip step 5 in this guide. Everything else works exactly the same as far as design goes however. If you’re looking for inspiration, you might be interested in Canva’s book cover templates, which are designed specifically for ebooks.
3. Create an Account on Canva
If you don’t have an account on Canva yet, now’s the time to create one (again, it’s free). Once you’re logged in click “Custom Dimensions” in the upper right corner:
4. Fill in Your Cover Dimensions
Fill in your custom dimensions (which you found in step 2). Make sure to change the units from pixels (the default on Canva) to those you see on the platform – in our case, it’s inches. Once you’ve filled in this information, click “Create new design”.
5. Insert the Spine of Your Book
Now you that you have the foundation for your cover, it’s time to insert the spine, and thus divide the cover in half (front and back).
To do this, you’ll have to convert the spine width (see step 2) into pixels. A quick Google search will lead you to several different conversion tools, so just take your pick. Once you have the width in pixels, return to your cover in Canva.
Click the “Elements” button in the left-hand menu and select the square (found in the “Shapes” section). Once the square is inserted, shape it into a rectangle by using your mouse to drag the bottom and top sides of the squares downwards and upwards respectively. Make sure that the rectangle stretches all the way from the bottom of your cover to the top. Then, you can adjust the width of the rectangle until it matches that of your spine in pixels (a little box will appear next to your mouse pointer, indicating the current size of the spine). You now have a representation of your book’s spine.
Lastly, you’ll have to position the spine in the center of the cover. Do this by dragging it towards the middle – Canva will indicate when the spine is centered.
6. Design Your Cover
Now it’s time for the fun part – designing the cover itself. You can either use the designs and elements on Canva, or you can upload your own photos or images. Just make sure to the lower right corner on the back cover free (unless you’re making an ebook cover of course), because the ISBN and publisher logo will be placed there by the printer, obscuring whatever was there before. The list below provides a brief explanation on what you can expect in terms of functionality:
Elements: Here you’ll find various shapes, lines, graphics and images with a number of themes that you can use. Scroll through the various sections to get an overview, and try the search function if you have something specific in mind.
Text: Fairly self-explanatory – use this to add titles, blurbs, quotes, or any other textual element you want on your cover.
Background: This section provides various images that will fill the entire cover template, excluding the spine you inserted. You can choose a single colour, various different patterns, or photos.
Uploads: Here is where you can upload your own visuals, which you can then apply to your cover. If you’ve find the perfect picture on an copyright-free image site like Unsplash or Pexels for instance, you can use this feature to add it to your cover.
7. Other Useful Features
In addition to the design elements mentioned above, there are some useful tools that allow you to modify the images, shapes, and other components of your cover design. From right to left you can:
- Change the color of your currently selected element
- Apply one of several pre-made filter to an image
- Create and apply your own filter to an image
- Crop the selected image to whatever size you want
- Flip (or mirror) the selected image
- Make a copy of your current design within the same workspace (good if you want to compare two different designs, and don’t want to start over from scratch)
- Increase or decrease the transparency of the selected element
- Lock the selected element(s), so that you don’t accidentally move or edit them
8. Download Your Cover
Once you’re happy with your cover, it’s time to download it. Click on the downwards-facing arrow in the upper right corner of your screen, and select “PDF Print” as your file type. If you have more than one design, you can either choose to download them all at once, or select individual pages. Then, click “Download”.
9. Upload Your Cover to Mybestseller
Now that you have your cover, log into your Mybestseller account, and go to step 5 – “Cover Design”. Click on “Choose File” to upload the design of your choice. Once you’ve done this, you can see how the final cover is going to look like when printed. Make sure that everything you want included on your cover is contained withing the dotted line (anything that isn’t will be trimmed off by the printer) and that the spine is placed correctly (indicated by the undotted lines).
10. A Couple of Examples
Here are two finalized covers that we’ve created using Canva, just to give you a glimpse of the possibilities. You’ll undoubtedly discover more features and settings as you go along, but hopefully this guide has helped you get started. Good luck, have fun, and let your creativity roam free!