How to make an ANIMATED book cover that blows people’s minds

Yesterday I saw something on Twitter that blew my mind: it was a promotional image of a book; but inside the book cover the pieces were moving around. It was amazing.

So I started researching animated book covers. I found some examples, looked for tools I could use for making animated gifs, and came up with these.

Animated book cover design, YA fantasy cover by Derek MurphyAnimated book cover design, YA fantasy cover by Derek MurphyAnimated book cover design, YA fantasy cover by Derek Murphy

How to make an animated book cover design that blows people's minds.

animated book cover design YA dystopia

animated book cover design dark fantasy

If you like these covers, can you help me out by pinning them on Pinterest?

If you actually want to READ them, check out my fiction site, Urban Epics.


What good are animated book covers?

They won’t work on Kindle or iBooks (though I’m going to test them anyway, maybe I can find a workaround). But they WILL work on Wattpad, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other social media sites. So whenever you post a promotional picture of your book cover, you could awesomefy it (that’s not a word but it needs to be = make awesome).

Now I just need to learn how to make those animated covers look amazing on a static 3D product shot… I’ll learn that next. The danger is, of course, once I give away all these secrets, everybody is going to do it, so on top of all the author-spam you usually see on Twitter or Facebook, now the images will be moving. It’ll be like Myspace all over again (obnoxious, hard to look at).

So what I should do is keep these secrets to myself, so they only show up on my covers and I have a marketing advantage. But.. I’m not going to. These covers were easy to make, and the tools are cheap. Be extremely cautious, don’t overdo it, but for shits and giggles, here’s a tutorial on designing your own animated covers.

If you like this tutorial and animate your book cover, share your cover on Twitter and tag me: @creativindie so I can see it.

How to make your own animated book covers

Firstly, add some sparkle. I used this site, paid to remove the watermark. It only has a few features, but it plays off the natural light/dark contrast of your book cover, and you can select the areas for some amazing effects.

Here’s a video tutorial.

Secondly, I found DP Animation Maker, a bit more expensive at $37.77, but it can add great effects, especially for light, water and movement.

Animated book cover effect for Michelle Madow's Elementals

Thirdly, I wanted to find a way to morph images, so, for example, a face can blink, or smile. To do that I’d need two or three pictures and merge them together.

Animated gif version of Rick Yancey's The 5th Wave - learn how to make your own animated book cover!
animated book cover design The 5th Wave Rick Yancey

I can do that with First I have to make the different versions of the cover, then I add the photos and turn them into a gif. I thought this might work especially well to add a “splash” effect with a big quote, review, or description – a little bit of extra sales copy space on your cover image.

You can also make an animated book cover in Photoshop but it’s more of a process.

How to save/share your animated book covers

The gifs you make can be pretty big; you can try to use Gifmaker’s resizer to make them smaller. If you upload them to the file size doesn’t really matter – Giphy is great for posting on Facebook (if you use a Giphy link it will preview the animated gif, but if you upload the gif straight to Facebook, it won’t play).

However, on Twitter I’d rather just upload the picture directly – Twitter DOES show the animation. A Giphy link works too but it clicks to Giphy, which I don’t like. You can embed the pictures on your website as well, and pin them to Pinterest (where animation works).

Have fun! Remember to tag me if you make your own animated covers so I can see.

Want more tips, book cover design templates and some free books?

I have more free stuff – templates, an email series on cover design, and my books on writing and book marketing.