Process: Book Cover Design

In taking on this book cover project, I began by sketching a bunch of thumbnails. I was familiar with the contents of the book and when I had the opportunity I took a look through the contents. Usually, this read-through would probably be the first step.

After discussing the thumbnails with the author, we decided to go with the text of the title and subtitle along with graphic line drawings of various objects.

With a quick stop at the internet I procured examples of the objects I wanted to draw and headed off to Adobe Illustrator. After I drew the objects, I resized them so that they were the correct proportions relative to the other objects.

Next I scoured through my typeface collection and found two that had a hand-drawn, indie feel. Wanting the illustration lines to resemble the type lines, I created a custom brush and applied it to the objects using the Appearances palette.

I also knew that I wanted to have the colors of the objects offset so I drew rough approximations of the object contours shapes on a different layer using the pencil tool.

I imported the line work, text and color contours into Photoshop and began the layout, coloring and texturing process. More internet research let me see color options as well as locating paper and watercolored textures. I’ve always liked the combination of tight line work with loose watercolors and thought that aesthetic would work well for this project.

Initially, the orange concept got the most positive feedback in my focus group, but the author thought the calmer blue color scheme communicated the intent of the book. I added in additional texture elements and a light frame to add a bit more energy and to focus the viewer’s eye by connecting the various elements.

Typically, I create a new composited Photoshop file that has all of its layers cleaned up. In this case I extended the canvas on the new file to accommodate the single font/spine/back file required by the publisher.

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