Manga Cover Design Tips

Telophase has a fascinating analysis of manga cover design. She looks at the top five and bottom five sellers from a particular month and notes the importance of central figures, readable logos (even at small sizes), and character faces as clear focal points. Any comic creator should keep these points in mind.


  1. Mmmm, interesting. Here, see if my new upcoming cover passes that test:


  2. The title isn’t readable as a thumbnail unless you already know what it says, at least not with these old eyes.

  3. Hmmm… applying the article’s principles to the small picture, I think the color choices are eye-catching and warm with high contrast (good), the central figure is strong (good), but that there could be more emphasis on the face (especially eyes) and I agree that the title blends into itself. It’s all those verticals in “LITTL”, I think.

    That was fun, thanks for volunteering!

  4. […] Lyle @ Crocodile Caucus hassome additional comments on manga design, looking at spine layout and title issues. […]

  5. The odd thing is that of the 10 covers shown, I like the Nana one best. It drew my eyes when I saw it on the shelf, as it was pretty and different from the other covers.

    Mr. Sizer, I agree with the others on her eyes not being very expressive. I sort of wonder if the colors are a bit too reserved though. Those colors are the same as many of the bookshelves in the stores I shop, so I fear it’ll blend.

    (great to hear about a LWM Omnibus though, since I missed the second mini)

  6. James, I commented over at Telophase’s LJ that the Nana cover pops when its displayed with other manga titles because it’s style is so different from everything surrounding it. I’m not sure if that particular image gives you the right idea of what to expect within the covers, however.

    Along those lines, I really like the covers for Death Note (though volume 3 is awful) the design, while using many elements that Telophase identifies as effective, include a few atypical design elements. (And I’ve been looking at this title since the Union Square Borders began carrying untranslated copies.)

  7. mmm all I can say was Nana was a unique one! I can’t really say anything else since I’m just a newbie (I’m 13 :P) and I’m kinda nervous in creating my manga cover since you all make a big fuss about the cover…isn’t the content/story the one that draws people in?

    I kinda need some advice for my manga cover since I’ll be turning my novel’s first book into a manga to read my novel please go to my website

    comments and criticism / suggestions are very welcome coz hey I’m not too old to learn anything new :P

  8. I believe the content will keep people coming back or cause them to recommend a book to their friends, but the cover is what catches their eye first.

  9. oohhh…okay! I kinda made my cover, can you tell me if it’s okay? If it’s not a bother I mean…


  10. At first glance, it looks like a “how to” advice book. Maybe on getting over divorce.

    For comics, I like to see how the artist draws figures, so it’s surprising not to see a person or character on the cover.

    On a practical level, the title blends into the tree. There should be more contrast between the lettering and the background so people can instantly see what the title is.

  11. actually you’re right…it is a “how to” advice book in a very strange way…

    I know the title blends with the tree…>.

  12. but I’ll keep on trying thanks for the advice lol!

  13. btw, since I’m a novelist I’m used to creating mysterious pics as covers to make people think about the story at first glance…I guess manga covers are a whole lot different! LOL

  14. ok I made a new one tell me what you think :


  15. I think it gives a better idea of your target audience, that it’s manga, and that it’s fantasy. But that’s just my opinion.

  16. so does it look better or not? please answer

  17. much better, but,well,honestly if it’s going to be a manga then don’t let the illustration look like anime, which is what most americans do, seeing as anime and manga go hand in hand they seem to put them together. They’re not the same style! there’s a huge difference.

    P.S maybe it’s just me who can’t stand seeing the beautiful world of manga destroyed by american audiences, then they go and publish something like dramacon which only mocs the manga world with it’s poorly drawn characters and lacking sense of perspective.

  18. Oh, pooh. Dramacon doesn’t mock, it’s a loving portrayal of the ups and downs of fandom. And it’s far from “poorly drawn”. It’s terrific.

  19. well…I think I’m gonna revise a bit more, and HELLO! I’m doing my OWN VISUAL NOVEL, MY OWN STYLE. I don’t care what THEIR STYLE LOOKS LIKE. It’s my originality LOL, I’m not a follwer hahahaha.

  20. PLUS! I WANT/ASPIRE/DESIRE/DREAM for it to be produced as a cartoon or anime becuase I know that TV affects audiences more than book do. That’s why I’m turning my novel to a visual grpahic one. :P

    sorry…I’m in a bad mood.

  21. ummmm….. i am making a manga now, and i am only 5th grade. me and my other two friends draw with me. we are making a manga. wat kind of prgram that is free that i could use? how do i make a cover? how do i make a script? wat materials do i need? can you please please help me?

  22. I suggest going to your library and checking out some books on creating manga. They should be able to answer your questions.

  23. I love ur manga cover!!! It’s beautifuland I agree with u “people should create manga in their own style not copy because it’s not original nor creative.” – Alexis

  24. here’s the most recent one…i think i’ve improved a bit…

  25. I really think that Bleach and FMA and Fooly Cooly have awesome covers I wish I could draw like that!

  26. thanks for the advice, but i am no longer making a manga….. i am just practicing my drawing skills now… and that cover is soo coool

  27. wow… u guys r gr*… btw m makin’ a manga 2 … i’ll post sum pages wen i an… hope u lyk it.. :D

  28. Im not sure if this tread is dead by now, but i really need some new eyes on a cover Im making to an pretty easygoing happy manga story, i wonder if it looks professional enough or if the style is to rough for the story.

    I think it’s somewhat stands out but im not sure if it’s in a good way

    appreciate your time

  29. The eyes are too big and the proportion of the body is kinda weird.. o.0 this thread is 2 years old haha :P

  30. “The eyes are too big and the proportion of the body is kinda weird.. o.0 this thread is 2 years old haha :P”

    yh, that’s why I thought it would be dead. too big? really i thought they where rather small for manga?

  31. There is also something weird going on with the front wrist and the arm behind it — at first I thought they were connected. They need more separation and/or different placement.

  32. “There is also something weird going on with the front wrist and the arm behind it — at first I thought they were connected. They need more separation and/or different placement.”

    ok ty, i will deffenelly try doing something about it ^^

    or do you think the whole thing would be better off if i redo it completly with more “softer” colours and a other motive?

  33. I can’t answer that — that’s a choice for you to make. What reflects the contents better?

  34. I meant more like a general oppinion, but i know what you mean and thanks for your time and advise i think it will help me figure out a way to improve it.

  35. I believe that you need to really flesh out the detail in the cover. Try to make it more refined. And if you are looking for good dimensions, try using the Golden Rectangle or golden proportions. (Leonardo da Vinci used them, so it has to make it better!!!)

  36. Hii! This thread is sooooooo old. Anyway, work on the eyes, make the proportion in the eyes better, either smaller eyes or a bigger face, but with the bigger face one, you’ld have to change the body.

  37. any advice?

  38. Your cover has no depth. It needs blacks and shading to prevent the eye from “skidding” over it. The character’s anatomy is really messed up, especially around that front arm. The perspective’s wrong, and bones don’t work that way. As for the picture overall, I don’t know what’s happening in this scene, and I’m given no reason to care.

    Sorry, but you asked.

  39. Lol this thread is most likely completely dead by now. But in case it’s not, can you guys give me an opinion on my manga cover?

    NOTE: I realize it’s messy. I’m going to lineart/color it neatly/ and shade it later. The colors are just to get a basic idea of what I want it to look like. I’m also planning to retouch the buildings in the background and add more.

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