Cover Geek #6: Graphic Covers

Piggybacking off last week’s post about People on Covers, this week, I’ll be talking about what I think of graphic based covers, which is quite easy to say–I love them!

I think they give enough freedom for readers to envision the characters in the way they want to see them, while also allowing things to be more aesthetically pleasing. There’s more leeway in making graphics than there is photo editing, because if you do too much to a human nose, they might look silly, while on a graphic it could have a completely different effect.

There are many types of graphic covers, and I’ve definitely not touched on all of them here, but I tried to pick some of the top four categories plus good examples for you guys to ogle! It was hard picking my favorites, but here you go:

Interpretations of People

People interpretations can vary largely, from that tiny blip on the cover that’s one of a million heads, to a giant face on the front. I like to narrow this group by using the qualification “able to distinguish one distinct facial feature, whether it’s lips, nose, eyes, whatever. It helps separate this from those blurry images of people in the background.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is one of the cutest and most surprisingly well-working examples. You’d never expect that that style of art would work so well on the cover, but it does. I had to go and display my special collector’s edition cover vs. the mint one because I love it (and the fanart inside). It works well in showing what this novel is about and fits the subject well.

Who’s that Girl by Blair Thornburg has such a beautiful cover–and I love how the typography is spread on the face, but you can still see the lips, ear, and fiery hair. I think we get the general idea of Nattie’s personality from it, more so than her physical features, which is a part of this cover I really like.

Both Finding Audrey and The Hate U Give are great examples of how graphic people on covers plus negative space can have a very cool effect.

Objects & Symbols

Objects and symbols are some of the most classic graphic covers–especially for fantasy and science fiction. I’m not going to go through these one by one, but you can see how they all have that central focal point that’s somewhat related as a motif in the novel. The double swords in Mask of Shadows for an assassin, the cyborg foot for Cinder in Cinder, the half-deadly butterfly to represent Nemesis in The Diabolic, the snake eating its tail as a marking used in The Last Magician, and the phoenix-like bird in Flame in the Mist are all good examples of object & symbol centric covers.

Themed Scrolls & Decorations

These are some of the most graphic covers, predominantly vectors, as their detail comes from intricate patterns rather than focuses on objects. All of these have different types of swirling patterns around a central title, possibly with a few embellishments. It makes a very pretty cover, albeit somewhat simple, but can still help emphasize the title and those graphic focal points.

Scenes with Small People

Scenes with Small People is really just my euphemism for “miscellaneous.” For those covers that don’t fit in but are still graphic and not model-based, these covers work well demonstrating ideas and concepts more so than actual people, like in the first category.

In They Both Die at the End, the silhouettes of Mateo and Rufus are shown with the reaper shadow behind, putting Rufus and Mateo less as a focal point and putting a larger spotlight on death.

In A List of Cages, Julian is standing looking up at the stars alone, and it creates a powerful message already about how moving a novel this would be.

In Girl Against the Universe, the female main protagonist’s struggles can be seen through the positioning of her body, emphasizing this more so than other aspects of her.

In Reign the Earth, those desert vibes are given off and the protagonist stands in the win, possibly showing her solidarity and factors of change.


What do you think of these covers? Do you prefer graphic covers or those with real models?

Also, fun PSA, I heard about a super cool book giveaway hosted by Page Habit (a monthly subscription box) where over 500 winners will receive (at minimum) a hardcover book and bookish goodies! You can enter here!

much love, vicky

5 thoughts on “Cover Geek #6: Graphic Covers

  1. I love these post about covers!
    On the whole I prefer covers with graphics rather than real people because I just think they’re prettier! Although I don’t mind a person in the distance, so long as I don’t see their face because I want to imagine what the character myself rather than be sort of told.

    Liked by 1 person

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