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Designing a Cover

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, May 12, 2018

Why is it so haaaard?

For me at least. I really am stumped when it comes to drawing covers for my webcomics. So much so that I would always find clever (?) ways for other people to do them for me.

I can't get out of making one now though. With four out of the eight chapters of Without Moonlight complete (which is basically Volume 1), I absolutely MUST make a cover for the Volume 1 edition that I want to have. The one I made all the way back in 2010 for it is just not cutting it.

Why, would you ask?

Because, unsatisfactory art aside now it's aged 8 years, it doesn't tell too many things about what Without Moonlight is about. Look at it:

All you can tell from it is that it takes place in Greece (since there's the Parthenon in the background) and there's going to be a bunch of kids and a soldier in the story. I have to literally write it out that it's a WWII story. It could've been any point in time in the 20th century. It isn't even necessarily wartime!

But that is not enough for a webcomic cover, as much as it would be for a movie poster (especially if it had famous actors in its cast, who would draw in the audience).

All the “how to draw webcomic/ comic covers” articles I searched through have one piece of advice in common:

The cover has to be able to communicate to the reader the following things:

1. The tone and genre
2. The art style
3. What the comic is about (i.e. not just the main character's ‘photoshoot’ pinup, but an image with enough context to give some basic parameters about what the reader should expect)
4. A compelling composition that ‘hooks’ the reader by making him/her wonder what the deal is.

Normally I would post examples of “good' covers and ”bad" covers, but I'm only just starting to wade into the logic of this beast.

So what is a good cover in your opinion?

What is YOUR webcomic's cover like?



Ozoneocean at 9:44PM, May 14, 2018

You covers are always very striking!

AmeliaP at 2:19PM, May 14, 2018

Great article! You've covered all the main points well. About me? It's funny. I'm hired as digital painter for covers and when I'm working for publishers, I read everything about the story and the audience they're targeting. I can't say it's hard. BUT, when it's a cover for my story... it took me months to find an aesthetic for the cover that fits well the story. I'm still developing it and I think it's the hardest part. My process to create a cover for my story is different when I'm creating for someone else. It's more... abstract. I thought on general mood first and the recurrent motif of the chapter. My story has power and loss as its theme, and that means all the covers have a dark atmosphere, even with the high saturated colors. It affects the composition too. Taking the issue #4 (simple illo) as reference (, I chose a cross stance for that guy, not because he's a martyr, but because it means danger. And so on..

PaulEberhardt at 10:32AM, May 13, 2018

If I do a cover I try to keep it simple - focused on drawing you right into the story. With the print book I published, which is about a mole trying to hijack an excavator, it just shows the main character looking out of her mole hill with an awestruck expression and the excavator doubly reflected in her glasses and practically no other details. It's supposed to be just the bare minimum to tease an onlooker into reading that thing, and I think it works quite well. If I ever get around to redoing the crappy ten-year-old cover for my webcomic - that was based on the same principle - I'll probably do it pretty much the same way.

PaulEberhardt at 10:29AM, May 13, 2018

With a long-running comic like mine I'm just glad that the first thing a new reader sees is the latest page and not my artistic sins of the past. So actually, I kind of think of every page as doubling as a cover in a way - meaning you don't actually need one if you don't plan on publishing the thing as a book, unless you see it as an artistic challenge or want to do an additional eye-candy for your readers. Guess that's one special characteristic of webcomics, even if you can set it to show the cover first these days.

bravo1102 at 1:32PM, May 12, 2018

I mostly go with movie poster style. I like one or two characters and something that hooks the reader. I've done movie poster style overall covers, variant covers as well as chapter covers for supposed comic adaptations. The movie poster is usually how I start any Belinda Brandon project. And then have to redo it because the original picture doesn't match anything in the actual production. Kind of like how Ralph MaQaurrie's original book cover for Star Wars didn't match the final designs for the movie. (Making that book cover collectible)

Avart at 10:55AM, May 12, 2018

I always have this same problem. Ok the beginning I tried to make the main cover and a sub cover for each chapter... It was a pain in the ass! Trying to give the reader an idea of what's inside without spoil anything is incredibly hard. I decided to get rid off them since chapter 5, and the main cover remain intact. It's a very simple cover but I think it gives you an idea of the main character's personality. Great article !

KimLuster at 9:39AM, May 12, 2018

I'm generally pleased with my covers for The Good Walker and Godstrands! I'd day both sort of fit with number 4 from your list! The Godstrain itself doesn't have a cover, nor does chapter 1 (this was before I had a clue what I was doing). Now, I'm not sure giving them a cover is possible (with the page reordering thing not working past the displayed pages...)

Albino Ginger at 6:03AM, May 12, 2018

When I make a cover, I “usually” try to depict one of the big scene in that book, chapter, issue. but not spoil any big surprise.

usedbooks at 3:09AM, May 12, 2018

Used Books doesn't have a cover. Each printed volume does. I print a volume every 200 pages or so and pick a theme for it. They aren't great artwise. Concepts are good though. My illustrated novel Strange Creatures has a neat cover page, imo. It's about a "monster," but the title is supposed to actually refer to the human cast, so I drew a human figure reflected in a beast's eye.

Ozoneocean at 12:59AM, May 12, 2018

Movie and book covers are a great guide. There are many great approaches both representational and highly abstract. If you're famous enough or just enigmatic you can let your title or name speak for itself and use a blank cover. I despise books that use blurry photos or an image cropped and stolen from a piece of fine art. Both are fucking lazy and meaningless. The art directors should be fired and made to live under a bridge for the remainder of their lives...

Ozoneocean at 12:52AM, May 12, 2018

The main cover for Pinky TA is thoughtless and bad, as a comic cover that is. It's just a piece of art I liked at the time. If I were to print Pinky TA I would do a special cover for it. It would either show Pinky looking sexy and war-like, or it would be an exciting scene FROM the story with Pinky as the main star- like I've done on many chapter covers. I love it when book covers provide you with that contextual sort of teaser as well as extra visual information about the characters within the story so that's what I'd like to emulate myself.

Ozoneocean at 12:48AM, May 12, 2018

Chapter covers a a lot easier than MAIN covers! Chapter covers don't have to encompass the feel of your entire comic, they just have to capture the tone of a chapter... but they don't even have to do that- chapter covers can just be of something cool, or a great bit of art you've done recently, like your Martha rifle pin-up for example! Perfect! I think this is a great cover really. The colouring is a little soft and muddy and there are some errors like with Diomedes kneeling knee, but the feeling this cover shows is a great contrast to that in the comic. I love it! You get to see them all in a happier moment. You can see it's about Greece and WW2. You can see hints of the tragedy though.

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