If you’ve looked into book-making software, you’ve come across Adobe products. Their InDesign software is the premier tool for book layout and design and Photoshop is the most popular photo editor. Despite being expensive, Adobe’s Creative Cloud is the most versatile and comprehensive tool for designers. Perhaps less well-known is Adobe Spark; their drag-and-drop graphic designer.
What Is Adobe Spark?
Adobe Spark is a web-based graphic design platform. Think Canva. In fact, Adobe Spark does almost the exact same things as Canva; intuitive controls for designing simple graphics. With Canva’s popularity, Adobe Spark has stiff competition.
That doesn’t mean Adobe Spark is a Canva clone. In fact, each has some unique purposes. Let’s look further at how to make use of Adobe Spark for your book, promotions, or landing pages.
Using Adobe Spark
Adobe Spark is entirely web-based. You won’t need to download anything to use the graphic design tools included in Spark. You will need a Creative Cloud account to log in to Adobe Spark. Once you get set up, you’ll see a variety of commonly used templates to get you started.
From here, you can create a variety of graphic assets. Social media posts seem to be the primary focus on the dashboard. And if you’re marketing your book for some extra sales before the end of the year, a few new and polished social posts might be just what you need.
Adobe Spark is great for designing images for a variety of purposes, including your book cover. The software might be most suited to social graphics or website banners, but it’s absolutely possible to design your entire book cover in Adobe Spark.
Custom Book Covers With Adobe Spark
You can create a variety of designs, but since we’re all authors here, I think it makes sense to explore the Adobe Spark designer by creating a cover. You’ll need to start on Lulu to get the cover template. Once you’ve got your interior file uploaded, you can grab a template with your spine pre-sized.
Here’s what my test template looks like:
The important information right now is the total document size. I’ll use that to create my custom canvas on Adobe Spark:
When I click ‘Next’ I get a blank canvas sized to perfectly match my book cover. From there, I added the template as an image. Now I have the template as a layer I can reference and I’m ready to make my cover!
Let’s fast-forward a little bit. Here’s a cover I’ve created by layering on some elements.
I’ve marked three points to call out, so let’s go over those:
- The layers. This is one of my favorite features of Adobe Spark. If you’re creating complex images (or even relatively simple ones) you’re going to create a number of layers. This visualization makes it so much easier to see how your layers are stacked and to drag/drop them into the order you want.
- These elements (the text, barcode, and my little spaceship) are all layers. You can see them in the stack listed under #1. I’ve added these elements using the design controls.
- Which brings us to point #3: the tools you’ll have to design. Adobe Spark keeps it simple, with basic text and images. This includes text, elements (like shapes and arrows), and templates. You’ll also have options to add preset icons and stock images. Finally, you can upload or create branded assets like Logos that Adobe Spark will save and allow you to reuse for future designs.
Notice that top-most layer (the blank one)? It’s my template. I’ve set the transparency to 0 (making it invisible). But if I want to check my spine location or margins, I can simply adjust the transparency slider to make the template visible.
This isn’t the easiest to see, but I’ve made the template layer 40% visible. Now you can see it over the other elements of my cover. I can see that my ISBN barcode is in the right spot and that my other elements are placed correctly.
But I also see the ‘W’ in the title is very close to the spine. I might consider shrinking the font by a point or two. Or maybe tightening the spacing to ensure the text isn’t too close to the spine fold.
Page Layout Falls Short
Unless you’re designing individual pages for a photo book or cookbook (or some other image-laden kind of book). Adobe Spark is not meant for page layout and you’ll find the experience frustrating.
Even if you’re designing a photo book, you’ll be hampered with any text you might add due to limited font and styling options. Yes, much like Canva, you can create an entire book using just Adobe Spark. But I don’t think it would be worth the investment in Advil doing so might require.
Adobe Spark For More Than Covers
I don’t think the folks at Adobe had authors and book cover design in mind when they dreamed up Adobe Spark. It’s still a great tool for creating a simple cover, but where Adobe Spark shines is in the social media graphics and web pages.
Social Media Images
This is probably what Adobe Spark was designed for. If you’re all about marketing your book on social media, you need consistent and attractive graphics. Spark allows you to upload your brand graphics and colors for that consistency.
You’ll also have access to a built-in library of free and paid images along with loads of social media templates. You will need to pay for the more elaborate templates, but I’ll look more closely at using the paid version in the next section.
For now, here’s a very simple Instagram post I made:
Is it silly? Yes. If I was an author trying to sell my book, would I post this? No, probably not.
But I was able to create it in about 5 minutes. Adobe Spark sizes the graphic for Instagram. And the template pairs the fonts, sizing, and color to work well on Instagram. If I’m savvy and have some brand fonts and colors, I can add those to Adobe Spark as well to make sure all my posts are consistent.
When it comes to building a book cover, Adobe Spark works but isn’t the most sophisticated option. For social media, you get good templates and a large image library to use. Both of those are good reasons to try out Adobe Spark.
But the web page builder really surprised me. We retain the simple design, but the page Adobe Spark generates looks good. And I barely scratched the surface of the features available. There are lots of reasons you might need a single landing page—for a short promotion, to capture emails from an event, etc. Adobe Spark makes building and hosting simple web pages incredibly easy.
For example, here’s one I built:
It’s nothing special and Adobe has plastered it with ads and links back to Adobe Spark. Still, this page took me minutes to create and publish. With a bit more time and the easy drag-and-drop editor, I could whip up a stylish landing page. We’ve talked in the past about how useful simple, single-purpose web pages are for authors.
If you’re looking for a graphic design platform that’s easy to use and offers options for making book graphics, social graphics, and simple landing pages, Adobe Spark is a solid choice.
Paying For Adobe Spark
You’ve got a lot of powerful design tools at your fingertips with Adobe Spark. But this is an Adobe product, so you’ll only have limited access unless you opt into their paid plans.
The Starter Plan is what I used to test Adobe Spark. And while it gives you an awesome taste of what you could do, you’re still very limited. That webpage I built is essentially an advertisement for Adobe Spark. And I could only get a single design without the watermark in the lower right corner.
There are a lot of available elements, functionality, and stock images that are paywalled as well. So realistically, if you’re thinking about Adobe Spark as a long-term solution, you’ll need to pay the $9.99 a month for their Individual Plan. Note that this is the same cost as Canva’s Pro Plan ($119.99 annually)—meaning the cost isn’t exactly a determining factor.
Is Adobe Spark Right For You?
I’ve been a regular Canva user for a couple of years now. I am NOT a graphic designer. I’d go so far as to say I’m not someone who should be allowed to create and share graphics regularly (our Creative Director would agree, I’m sure). I am the definition of a novice, so the platform I use to make simple graphics needs to be easy to use.
With that in mind, I found Adobe Spark’s controls to be just as clear and easy to use as Canva’s. I particularly found the layers visualization helpful when creating my cover:
This stacked view lets me see each layer in the design and how they are stacked. If you’ve run into errors with layers before, this method of viewing them is incredibly helpful. This stacked view of layers also makes it simple to remove any templates you might have started from (like the book cover one I used) once the design is complete.
Adobe Spark also won for me in the general workflow—starting from an idea and developing it into a graphic. I felt comfortable almost immediately finding the elements I needed, editing them with the commands available, and iterating on that design.
That said, if you’re already comfortable in Canva (or a more advanced design tool like Affinity Photo, Photopea, or Photoshop), you probably won’t find much new or strikingly different about Adobe Spark. It gets the job done without a lot of flash; emphasizing simplicity over complexity.
Creating Great Graphics
Selling your books means you must be a multi-talented creator. Even if you’d prefer to be holed up in a dimly lit room with soft jazz and a steaming cup of tea while you craft your masterpiece, you’re not going to sell books without compelling marketing. And that means graphics. For emails, social media, your book, your website—authors need a lot of graphics.
Adobe Spark is another solid option for writers who want to create their own graphics but don’t want to spend months learning the ins and outs of more powerful (and more expensive) options. If you’re looking for a tool to make social graphics, simple webpages, and some book graphics/layouts, Adobe Spark is well-worth a trial.