Cover Design: Weathering and Fading
By Amy Groening

The weathered look is in! Torn, faded, stippled, stained, distressed textures can create rich layers of imagery on a book cover. Some gorgeous aged-look covers have been making their ways onto our bookshelf lately. Sepia tones, artistically stained and torn-looking backdrops, and artifacts can come together to create a piece of art that shows passage of time, travel, and growth in a story. Consider a weathered, faded cover for historical fiction, autobiography, tales of voyages, or stories of renewal.

Strong Weathering

A heavily weathered book cover can feel like a classic even when it’s fresh off the press.

The Inheritance of Tanning Masters by E.R. Nicodemus

Book One of E.R. Nicodemus’s upcoming Canadian Western series uses an old-style map Ruperts Land overlaid on a weathered parchment backdrop to give an old-timey feel to the novel. Notice how the artistic staining frames the image, running up the spine of the book and just touching the corners with darker weathered colour, coupled with the vintage hand-stamped look of the title font, to create the feel of the old Canadian West.

The Pilgrim’s Progress Revisited by Christine Winter

The depth of texture on the weathered leather-look backdrop gives off the feeling that this book has been years in the making. The depth of this imagery and the sheen of the gold foil creates a richness that is usually reserved for leatherbound hardcover books, but is executed beautifully on this paperback version.

Light weathering and Photo Fading

The ripped, stained, old leather look might be great for novels set in the olden days, but what about aging for contemporary novels? Some light weathering can help add depth to a book cover and implies the growth and emotional experiences of a character.

Blemished Heart by Fern Boldt

The cover for Fern Boldt’s story of one girl’s escape from abuse to freedom is a great mix of contemporary imagery and weathering. The distressed texturing at the base of the cover belies the emotional turmoil the main character must escape from, while the modern-looking girl shows that this is a struggle that still takes place in the modern age.

Faith Builders by Valerie Minaker

A vintage Dutch bicycle on a sun-drenched street, overexposed and fading to a crinkled paper background, creates lightness and anticipation in this true story of transformation.

Light Texturing, Maps and Artefacts

In His Hands: True Stories of Wondrous Events in an Unusual Life by Wolfgang Paul Loofs

The weathered look isn’t just for novels! Wolfgang Paul Loofs’s story of travel and adventure is bolstered with photographs from his early life, overlaid with gently weathered texture and maps to create the feeling of adventure.

Across the Deep by Erin E.M. Hatton

Inspired by true events, Erin E.M. Hatton’s historical novel centres around three generations of travellers crossing oceans to find God’s purpose in their lives. The gentle stippling of the backdrop, the gorgeous pinks, yellows, and sepia tones of the sky, and the silhouette of a lone ship on the water promise readers that a tale of new lands and discovery awaits.

In His Hands: A Story of God’s Faithfulness in the Life of Heinrich Braun by Helena (Braun) Fast

The Braun family saved photographs and old letters from their family members to combine into this beautiful cover. The letters and old-style photography, combined with an antique name plaque, speaks of past times and earlier modes of communication that their father’s biography hinges on.

Old-Style Artwork

Children of the Thirties by Lyn Thompson

The brown paper background and faded pencil-and-charcoal lines of the drawing bring the reader back to an earlier age.

My Life on the Homestead by Reubin Drisner

A faded yellow photograph gets an added boost of antique charm with an artistically grainy overlay. Combined with the shiny pinstripe of the title plaque, this cover speaks of the bygone era that is the subject of Reubin Drisner’s autobiography.

About this Contributor:

Amy Groening is a project manager at Word Alive Press. She is a passionate storyteller with experience in blogging, newspaper reportage, and creative writing. She holds an Honours degree in English Literature and is happy to be working in an industry where she can see other writers’ dreams come to life. She enjoys many creative pursuits, including sewing, sculpture and painting, and spends an embarrassingly large amount of time at home taking photos of her cat committing random acts of feline crime.

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