Some book covers are all flash: bold fonts, high-tech colors, and slick, edgy photos. Those are all great, but sometimes, you want something a little less … technical. A hand-drawn, -painted, -collaged, or even digitally illustrated cover can have a kind of intimacy and approachability that sleeker books lack. (And considering that both the Harry Potter and Hunger Games series feature illustrated covers, we’re thinking we’re not alone in that feeling.)
To get an idea of what we mean, take a look at the book covers below, and vote on which one you think has the best illustrations. And after you’ve voted, check out Hyperion’s Spell Bound cover design challenge, which gives you the chance to show off YOUR incomparable design skill, you tastemaker, you!
Girl Wonder by Alexa Martin
The colors alone in this cover are enough to catch the eye: the combination of sunny yellow and brilliant fuchsia in the girl’s hair is bright and surprising. When viewed against the black background and the scrawling white title font, it makes for an all-around captivating look.
Ashes of Twilight by Kassy Tayler
This cover makes use of both photographic and illustrative elements, combining them into a single compelling digital collage. The surrealistic juxtaposition of the shimmering yellow songbird and the mechanical gears–plus the couple walking into the distance–evokes an air of mystery and adventure.
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
The black and white engraving on Seraphina‘s cover, which depicts a dragon flying over a cityscape, is reminiscent of medieval illustrations. As the novel tells of a kingdom in which a deep distrust simmers between humans and dragons, it’s a fitting look.
Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin
It doesn’t seem accidental that the illustrated hands on the cover of Ashen Winter bear a striking resemblance to Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam.” The novel, which tells of a family’s struggle to stay alive after the eruption of a supervolcano in Yellowstone, in some ways touches on the same themes as the Sistine Chapel frescos.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
The exuberant cover of Wonder is incredibly simple, but it still manages to carry a lot of emotional weight. A story about a young boy who’s physically and emotionally scarred by a facial deformation, the cover at once conveys the tale’s warm immediacy and its poignancy.
The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart
Part of the Mysterious Benedict Society series, this book features darkly whimsical illustrations both inside and out. The story of a genius orphan who battles against vicious bullies, self-interested adults, and a mean case of narcolepsy, The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict has a cover and a plot that bear some resemblance to Oliver Twist.
Way to Go by Tom Ryan
The lime-green cover of Way to Go is bright, exciting, and seems to express some essential aspect of the teenage experience. While it’s true that we may not be making each other mix tapes on cassettes anymore, the illustrated image and messy font still somehow feel totally spot-on.
Trail of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz
This is one brilliant piece of minimalistic cover design. A mystery laced with a dose of humor, Trail of the Spellmans boasts a cover illustration that shows stylized foot steps disappearing into what could be a narrow alleyway. Better yet, when viewed from another angle, the image takes on the appearance of an old-school noir villain, peeking out from between his fedora and the collar of his trench coat.