Don’t let the fact that Inkscape is free and Open Source give you the wrong impression — this application is nothing short of comprehensive, and there’s no shortage of ways in which you can utilize it for real-world design. One such example would be for print design, such as book covers. This Inkscape book cover tutorial will walk you through the entire process of creating book covers for actual, physical books that can be printed and distributed.
In order to create a book cover with Inkscape though you’ll need to download a template from Kindle Direct Publishing, which can be accessed here.
The reason why we’ll be using this template for our Inkscape book cover design is because KDP is the most commonly used print-on-demand service for designing DIY books. Whether you’re designing a book cover for yourself or a client, you’ll most likely be using KDP, so it’s good to be familiar with this platform.
Inkscape Book Cover Design
The following video tutorial will walk you through the entire process for designing a book cover in Inkscape:
The following is just a brief outline of the steps we’ll be taking in this tutorial. Please watch the video tutorial above for complete step-by-step instructions.
Table of Contents
Step 1: Import the book cover template into Inkscape and prepare the document according to its presets
The first step in our Inkscape book cover design tutorial is to import the PNG file for the Kindle Direct Publishing template onto your canvas and resize the canvas to fit it.
The book cover template comes with bleed lines and safe areas already indicated:
We’ll need to resize the document to fit this template.
We’ll also be placing this template on its own locked layer and generating guides of our own, using strokes, that will be placed on top of the design as we’re creating it:
Once these lines are generated, we can delete the book cover template and just use the strokes as a reference.
We’ll be working with two layers throughout this tutorial:
- The template layer: this is where the guides will be placed on their own layer, and the layer will be locked so that we don’t accidentally transform it while we’re working
- The contents layer: this is where the contents of the book cover design will be placed
Once the document is arranged according to the template, we can then create a large rectangle that is the same size as the template and place it on the contents layer.
Make the rectangle whatever color you’d like your book cover to be. For this demonstration the book cover is mostly yellow, so I made mine yellow:
As you may notice, the book cover template is broken down into three separate sections:
- Left side: this represents the back cover of the book
- Middle: this represents the spine of the book
- Right side: this represents the front cover of the book
The finished design will be printed a single unit and wrapped around the book.
The first section of our Inkscape book cover design that we’ll be addressing is the front cover — or the right-hand section of the template:
As you can see, the contents of the front cover are kept within the boundaries of the right-hand section.
It is important that the contents of your design — such as text, logos, imagery, and more — are kept away from the guide lines. If your design runs into these safe areas then there is a possibility that Amazon will reject your design.
Once the front cover is completed we will be moving on to the book’s spine:
As you can see, the spine consists of the book’s title, the subtext, the author, and a logo that I placed at the top.
In my experience, the spine is the trickiest part of a book cover to design. It’s a tiny, vertical space, and it’s easier than you think to have the contents of your design accidentally run into the safe area.
In fact, of all the times I’ve had my book cover design rejected by Amazon, it was always because of the spine, so make sure to pay special attention to this part.
The final step in our Inkscape book cover design tutorial is to design the back cover:
Typically, the back cover will consist of a brief synopsis of the book itself, with the title added and a brief “about the author” section.
It’s important to note that there is a dedicated space of the back cover where the book’s barcode will be placed.
You do not need to generate the barcode. Amazon will handle this on their end, so all you have to do is make sure that this dedicated space remains empty. If the contents of your design run into this space then your design will most likely be rejected.
Once you’re finished designing your book cover, the next step is to turn off the visibility of the template layer (the one with the guides on it) and export your design in a usable format.
According to the Kindle Direct Publishing website, they require that you upload a PDF document. To save your work as a PDF document, simply navigate to:
File > Save As
Choose a location on your hard drive to save your book cover design to, then choose PDF as the file type.
You book cover design is now complete!
Optional: Convert your document to CMYK
Whenever you’re creating a design for print, it is recommended that the design be created using a CMYK color profile, as opposed to the standard RGB format that we typically use for our digital designs.
The benefit of working with CMYK is that it ensures that you design will look the same in print as it does on your screen. Documents created with an RGB color profile tend to used shades that cannot be reproduced with ink, which is why this format isn’t suitable for printing.
Unfortunately, Inkscape doesn’t have the ability to output document in a CMYK format, but there are several workarounds that you can use that I’ve gone over in this tutorial.
Convert your final PDF document to a CMYK color format using any of the methods outlined in the aforementioned tutorial and you’ll be good to go.
Once you’ve finished creating your Inkscape book cover design you’ll have a tangible piece of design that you created yourself, using a free and Open Source application.
As a graphic designer, I can assure you that there’s no greater feeling than seeing something you’ve created on a screen in real-world, tangible form.
If you have any questions or need clarification for any of the steps taken in this lesson, simply leave a comment below.
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