You know who really likes Pixlr? Wattpad readers and writers. I’ve been approached by many people who write fan fiction on Wattpad asking how to create a Wattpad cover using our apps. If you’re one of those people, this post is for you. I’ve created three ready-to-go PXD templates you can download with layers and fonts you can customize. These templates fit the official Wattpad cover size of 256×400, and you can use them in Pixlr Editor, the free graphic design app that works in your browser. You can download all three of these templates (fonts included) as a Pixlr Wattpad Templates .zip bundle.
Wattpad is really all about digital display, so when you make a cover design for your writing you don’t have to spend time thinking about complicated print details like dots per inch or four-color processing or bleeds. You can just focus on making a compelling image of the right dimensions that will catch a reader’s eye. So what grabs attention? Good design. You may not be a graphic designer, but with a bit of thought, experimentation, and dedication to simplicity you can create a great cover in Pixlr Editor. That last part — simplicity — is the real key to success. It’s easy to over work your idea or get bogged down with creating something complex, but the best book covers of all time are almost always composed of simple elements.
Nonfiction Cover Design: Text Matters
Pixlr Editor will use the fonts you install on your computer, so go out and find the right fonts and install them. If you’re a Mac user, just download them and double click. If you’re a Windows user, dig into the Control Panel and find the Fonts utility and install from there. Once you’ve installed your fonts, you will probably need to restart your browser for them to be active.
For your book titles, you’ll probably find that a display font works best. These are fonts that have a unique look that’s designed to be eye catching and set apart from other text. You can purchase a font that is perfect for what you want, but there are so many free options out there that you should simply go with free. I recommend Font Squirrel as a good place to find quality free fonts.
For this nonfiction book cover about the history of wine enthusiasm, I grabbed a free image from Unsplash. I also grabbed a display font called Alex Brush for the title. I used the classic serif font Didot for the tagline, and I found a neat all caps font called Cinzel for the byline and foreward note. Be wary of overloading your designs with too many different fonts. In this example, I used three, which is a lot. Any more would be too much.
Wattpad Fiction Cover Design: Illustrations Stoke the Imagination
Some of the best fiction book covers are composed of simple illustrations. Partly this is because it can be hard to find a good stock photo to represent a novel. Novels are by nature rooted in the imagination so it makes sense that illustrations, paintings, or sketches are often used as cover images for fiction. But not always. It depends on what you want.
I created this one-color PXD template for Wattpad users as an example for a fiction book cover, and I made it as dead simple as possible. It’s just three pieces of text (using the free fonts Tiza and Impact Label) sitting on top of a paint bucket splash of orange. I found the illustration of a campfire in a pack of illustrations on Creative Market. Each week, they offer a bunch of Free Goods of the Week, and this week they happened to have a giant pack of 100 vector elements. I just opened up the image in Pixlr Editor and copy and pasted the illustration into my book cover template. I used Free Transform from the Edit menu to manually resize the campfire illustration to fit. And that’s it. In no time I made a compelling book cover for a novel about a firefighter who may or may not be starting the fires he’s glorified for putting out.
Genre Cover Design: Sticking to Styles that Work
People who are browsing Wattpad have a brief second to consider whether to investigate your book more closely. Many people in the Wattpad community are fans of a specific genre, so you need to make sure your cover design telegraphs to them that this is a book that fits the genre’s style. This doesn’t mean you need to copy the ideas of other authors, but it does mean that people who read a particular genre come to expect a consistency in book cover designs. The ultimate example of this is the Romance genre. Check out this excellent infographic that shows the Evolution of the Romance Novel and how cover designs have changed over time.
Today, e-books are dominating over print books so there isn’t a mold you specifically need to follow. Except maybe Fifty Shades of Grey. There’s no denying its influence. (If you love that look, try it with Color Splash). I made a PXD template for romance novels that you can use, and of the three templates this one is the most complex. It uses some layer styles that you may want to try out.
Screen your text for better readability
I drew a square and reduced its opacity to use as a screen or bed for the display text. If you’re using a photograph that has a lot of range of light and dark areas your text may not show up well. An unreadable title is unacceptable, so simply create a background element like this and dial back its opacity until you can read your title clearly.
Drop shadows are irresistible for adding effect; just be careful
I added a subtle drop shadow to the word “alone” that makes the word stand out. You’ll find this option in the Layers menu, and you can add and control a number of different layout styles to text. But be careful. You can overdo this easily. I lowered the opacity, lessened the effect, and increased the distance the drop shadow appears to give the word a soft glow that is fitting for the romance genre.
Blending modes can add subtle, professional looking effects
Perhaps the most overlooked but most useful feature in Pixlr Editor are the multiple blending modes. These modes help you combine two elements together (text, images, etc.). Each blending mode does something different and I recommend you try out each option. For this cover, I used the Overlay option with the word “alone” and with the byline to make those elements appear transparent. The see-through look fits this romance story of seduction behind the veil.
Pixlr Library: Make and Save Your Own
If you’ve never used Pixlr Editor before and are intimidated by graphic design apps, don’t be. With these templates you should have no trouble becoming a Wattpad cover creator without even digging into the more complex details of the app. One thing I would recommend doing is creating a Pixlr Editor account, which will allow you to store your work in the cloud and access it from anywhere. If you want to work on a template later, make sure to save your work as a PXD image. The .pxd file format is the default file format for Pixlr Editor, and by saving in that format you can preserve the layers and make changes later.