How to Design a Fiction Book Cover in Canva

A lot of self-published authors create their own book covers. We all know a professional and eye-catching book cover design is key to book sales, but this can be hard if you’re not a professional designer. Well, did you know you can design a fiction book cover in Canva that looks professional — even if you’re not a pro?

Personally, I use Adobe Photoshop for my projects, but you can use any graphics software you like. A significant number of authors use Canva, and I'll show you how.

Thus, in this article you will learn:

  • steps to design an effective fiction book cover with Canva
  • fonts that go well with fiction genres
  • easy ways to add professional image effects on your cover

Let’s see how to design a professional-looking fiction book cover with Canva.

Step 1. Choose The Right Template

After you log in to Canva, you should choose a template.

Please, pay attention not to the pictures or font, but to the placement of the text on the cover. If you have a subtitle, you should choose a cover template with a subtitle. Since the cover I am creating has a subtitle, I am looking for such a template. I have selected one from the Thrillers series.

Step 2. Choose The Right Picture

After you have your template, you should select an appropriate picture for your genre. There are a lot of stock picture websites to choose from like the ones mentioned in this ultimate guide to cover designs.

If you are an advanced user of Photoshop or any other graphics software, I would recommend that you combine different pictures. For example, you could use two different images for the background and the main character.

To do this, you could check out Neo-Stock or Pikwizard. NeoStock has exclusive collections of character photos devoted to fantasy, post-apocalypse, horror, etc. On this particular site, there are many different models/characters with multiple photos of each.

Side note: Incorporating a custom bar code into your back cover can be fun. To get those images to include, go here.

If you are a beginner, it is better to use just one image. For my cover, I decided to use Pixabay, where I found this picture:

Image by Stefan Keller

Try to find an image that can be used as a stand-alone picture.

Then in your Canva project, you need to delete the picture that is already used in the template and upload your own. Once your image is uploaded, drag it onto the cover template.

Fiction Book Cover Images for Horror

Here are more examples of pictures that are good to use for horror covers:

Image by Peter Pang

Fiction Book Cover Images for Fantasy

For fantasy covers, there are a few free stock pictures. Here are a couple options:

You may also buy some low-cost stock pictures like these for fantasy covers:

Image by vitaliy_sokol

These pictures have enough effects that you do not need to add your own.

Pictures for Urban Fantasy Fiction Book Covers

It can be difficult to find appropriate free images for urban fantasy as well, but below are a couple of inexpensive examples you can try:

Image by

Pictures for Romance Fiction Book Covers

If you’re a romance author, you’re in luck. There are hundreds of stock pictures available for romance book cover designs. Here are some good examples:

Image by Aliceabc0

You'll want to find an image that suits your story.

Tip: Do NOT Choose This Kind of Picture

Never use a picture where some part of the body is cut off. For example, in the picture below, the man’s head is cut off:

Image by Inna Lesyk

Pictures like this are not good to use on fiction book covers because there is no place for the title or the author’s name. Also, these tend to look unprofessional–the opposite of what we’re trying to create with our cover designs.

Never have THIS Kind of Picture on your Book Cover - Pro Tip #SelfPublishingClick To Tweet

Step 3. Choose A Great Font

The next step is to work with fonts.

First of all, type the title, subtitle, and author’s name in your cover template. You can drag the text on the cover to place it where you wish.

It may help to review this guide to book cover fonts, look at examples of text position on book covers in Google or Amazon, or check the portfolio on my website and get inspiration from there.

I place the author’s name at the top of the cover, with the title and subtitle below.

If you are new to font choice, it is always better to use one of the sans serif family fonts.

3 Horror fonts I recommend are:

  1. Veneer
  2. Another Danger Slanted
  3. Attentica 4F

These specific fonts are not available on Canva, but you can add them if you have the upgraded Canva account.

For fonts available on Canva, you can use:

  • IM Fell English SC
  • Advert Pro Medium
  • Bebas Neue
  • Sunday

Here is the horror cover with some of the above-mentioned fonts.


Try to combine different fonts on the cover, but do not use more than two different fonts.

For example, you could use IM Fell English SC for the title and Advert Pro Medium for the subtitle and author’s name.

For fantasy and urban fantasy covers, you could use the following fonts in Canva:

  • Playfair Display SC
  • Martel Bold
  • Brilon

Also, if you can upload your own font, I recommend Marschel and Wallington. Here are examples of fiction book covers with these recommended fonts:

For Science-Fiction, I advise using fonts like:

  • Advent Pro Bold
  • Allerta Stencil
  • Aliens and Cows (The name sounds funny, but it works)

And, for those romance cover designs, there is a wide range of good font options, such as:

  • Benne
  • Brusher
  • Emilys Candy

Format Beautiful Professional Books

Easy to use, and and full of amazing features, you can quickly turn your book into a professional book.

Check It Out

Tip: Combine Different Fonts

Also, do not be afraid to combine different fonts in one title or even in one word. Canva has an awesome tool for finding fonts that pair well together.

For example, I used three fonts on this cover:

For words “Laying” and “Roots” I used Classic Roman font.

For the author name and subtitle – Goudy Old Style font.

And I used Jelytta font for the first letters of the author's name and the word “Down.”

Of course, you can use any fonts you like, but try to use simple and clear fonts that are easy to read.

For even more on fonts, check out Kindlepreneur's guide for choosing fonts for your book covers.

Step 4. Font Size and Placement

As already mentioned, it is always a good idea to look at other examples of cover designs when you are creating your own.

In general, here are a few rules that work for all fiction covers:

  1. The author’s name should be at the top of the cover.
  2. The title should be in the middle or close to the bottom.
  3. The subtitle should always be under the title.
  4. The title should be big and easy to read.
  5. The author’s name and subtitle should be smaller.
  6. The author’s name should be bigger than the subtitle.

The best option is to center all the text and use a contrast color for it. If you want to use different colors for the text, it is better to use one color for the title and another for the subtitle and the author’s name.

Of course, these rules are not strict and it is not obligatory to follow them. But if you are a beginner in the book cover design game, it is better to stick to these guidelines.

In Canva, you can change the text template even after you have selected a cover template.  As an alternative to the previous example, let’s select a left-hand aligned text template.

Now make it bigger, retype the title and delete all the extra text. Also, you can change the text color. You can see how I did so below:

And here is what you will get:

It is not the best solution for this cover as there is a lot of space at the top and it thus requires some additional effects.

As you may have noticed, a few drops of blood appear on this cover now. Let’s figure out how to add these effects in Canva.

Step 5. Add Effects

The next step for a fiction cover is to add more effects to your chosen picture. The most popular effects for horror covers are fog, blood, light, and mud.

To add an effect to a Canva book cover, you need to download the image of this effect on a transparent background. To find such pictures on Pixabay, you need to add the filter for vector graphics and type the name of the effect you want to find in the search field.

Below I’ve searched for “blood” and filtered the results to only show vector graphics.

Download the necessary image and then upload it to your Canva account. I am going to use this blood effect, which you can find here.

You can see that I do not use the full image on the cover, and I played around with the transparency.

To get this effect, I zoomed in and added a more pronounced effect to the left side. Although I used the blood effect twice, the effect is more transparent at the bottom right corner. You can change the transparency in the top right corner of the Canva editor.

I did the same thing with the fog effect.

You can add such effects all around the cover, but remember that it should remain simple.

so THAT'S how to get blood splattered across my book #selfpublishingClick To Tweet

More common book cover design effects for fiction genres are:

  • science fiction – light effects
  • fantasy – magic effects, decorative lines
  • romance – decorative lines

You’ve probably seen a lot of different decorative lines like the ones below that go under text. They are mostly used for fantasy and romance book cover design.If you've ever wondered where to find those for free to add to your book cover, here are a few good options:

Image by Gordon Johnson

Tip: Use PNG Format

Effect pictures should be in PNG format. One of the best sources of .png pictures is PNG Tree. Unfortunately, there are not many sources of free .png pictures, so if you find one, please let me know.

Now It’s Your Turn

The five steps in this guide will help you to create a simple but lovely fiction book cover design in the free design tool, Canva. If you would like to hear more advice from me, drop me a line or ask anything in the comments below.

About The Author

Ihor Tureh is a co-founder and CEO at MiblArt. He started his career as a freelance Graphic Designer and after a year founded a book cover design company called MiblArt. He specializes in fiction book cover design. If you want to discuss your book cover design with Ihor, you may reach him at or find more information at

Sell more books on Amazon

Free Download

Book Launch Strategy

Book launches can be overwhelming. There can be so much to coordinate from your ARC team to marketing to getting reviews. To help with this process, I’ve created a detailed guide on how to launch your book to be as successful as possible.

15 thoughts on “How to Design a Fiction Book Cover in Canva

  1. Jodi Shaw

    How did you blend two images in canva like you did for romance one laying down?

  2. Gail

    I’m a little confused by cavna’s License terms – any clues? I was simply trying to use one of their stock images (and paid I think £1 for the image) and design a placeholder cover for amazon til I got one made. However I wanted to be sure I could use it commercially and I thought I had the answer then saw something about 3 different license terms.

    1. Dave Chesson

      The best thing to do to ensure you’re good is to contact them.

  3. Alan Scouser

    Great article. I am a published horror writer and WOULD love to know how to create my own digital horror images for my book covers. The most frustrating thing about this, though, is trying to find an image that is ONE HUNDRED PER CENT free to use without fear of copyright breaching. Any tips on how to do this would be much appreciated.

  4. Jay Artale

    I wonder why Canva uses cover dimensions 1410pxl wide x 2250pxl tall for their Kindle cover when Amazon recommends using 1600pxl wide x 2560pxl tall … it still works out at the same 1:1.6 (5:8) aspect ratio – but when I use canva for covers – I always create a custom temple with the Amazon recommended larger dimensions.

    1. Dave Chesson

      Yeah, I do too. It would be cool if they had a drop down on the different ratios though.

Comments are closed.