Novel Artists

As some further research for some more illustration ideas for my project, I have been looking at novel covers from various books from a select few genres, such as mystery and horror. During my search I found these three notable cover designs which have assisted in giving me a few new ideas for what sort of art direction I could take for some/all of my pages.


The first book I uncovered is called “X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon”, a novel about a man who realises that the freedom he created from his failures is nothing more than an illusion and that he must stop running from the past. While not entirely a horror or conspiracy novel from what I could gather from the summery, it does seem to contain some possible elements of mystery, although I am more interested in the style of the cover itself.

 

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I really enjoy the design of this cover as the bright red really makes the design look like a big eye catcher around other books. I also like how the title of the book itself, “X”, is actually part of the the cover design itself, rather than being used as type like the authors’ names. The use of the running man could also serve as a good design choice for a conspiracy book as it can represent being on the run from evil groups (illuminati etc.). Overall, I think that there are a few things which I could take from this design into my own, namely the use of typeface and eye-catching colour.


The next novel I came across was called “The Sisters Brothers by Patrick de Witt”, a story about a pair of assassin sisters who are sent off to kill a man in the middle of the western desert. Despite not being much in the genre types I was searching for, the cover (like the previous) still caught my eye in terms of design.

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The reason why I chose to look at this cover is because it looks almost like it could be for a conspiracy novel, with the dark, shadowy figure looking almost as if they were from a secret society or governmental organisation watching the reader through page. The overall design style also is very similar to my own simplistic and shape based style. Another good point to add is that I noticed from this design that there not too many solid colours, (unlike my own style) there are print-like textures added to the moon/sun and background. This makes the design appear a lot less flat and plain. The use of texture also adds a little bit of improvement to the illusion of a skull within the moon (with the two figures creating the eyes, nose and lower part of the cheek bones). These two points could be something I must consider if I want to both create a successful final piece as well as if want to improve my own design style for future projects.


The final design style comes in the form of a set of books which were designed by artist Nikola Klímová, who created uniquely-styled covers for classical horror stories such as “Dracula” and “Frankenstein’s Monster”.

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The reason why I chose this set of covers is simply due to how amazing the style is within these designs, and how simple yet effective the presentations of them are. The designs themselves are notably made using various printing methods. I love how the rough and almost nightmarish depictions of the monsters’ hand and the split/fractured silhouette of Jekyll and Hyde. The use of colour for the prints are also very unique in that she used orange in Frankenstein and a vibrant pink and blue in Dracula. While I am unsure about the use of colours of Dracula, the unnatural pink flesh combined with the unsettling blue which runs across the hand almost as if bloody veins does give a menacing tone. I may use a style similar or even combined along another style for a possible page or two within my final piece work.

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Book Cover Evaluation – PMI

With the book cover now complete, I shall now give my evaluation on what I think went well and wrong with this project, as well mention what aspects I thought were interesting.

 


P – In terms of what I thought went right with my work, I am very happy how the overall design of the book turned out, and how the simplistic style I used created the child-friendly appearance that I was after. While it was somewhat difficult creating the designs themselves from scratch (namely the characters and bar-code), I am happy that they turned out as well as they did in what little time we had. To me, I believe that the use of the font I chose was very fitting for the overall design and theme (which ended up being cambria due to the lack of calson, my originally planned font), and that it gave a great old fashioned look to the front page and spine.

M – I feel as if the type I used for the back cover was somewhat lackluster, and that it could have used a different font to make it more effective for a children’s book (use of more modern/straighter font for possible improvement). I am also a little disappointed in how the spine did not quite fit together with book I used for its body, making the edges of the front and back covers bleed in a fair bit. This may have been due to some slight miscalculations with the measurements, or due to a little confusion I had when trying to measure the book’s width.

I – I think that the way that the type I used alongside the designs of the front cover seemed to fit in a way that felt very odd to me. During the previous projects I would think about choose a type that felt fitting to me and left it there. With this cover and type, for the first time I felt as if the simplified color-scheme made the front more effective in my eyes, as it still has a child friendly design, but retains the original book’s old fashion heritage.

Creating the Book Cover

Today I created and finished the design for the book cover project.


 

Using Adobe Illustrator as a base design tool, I created the designs for both the front and back covers of the book (which I later placed into InDesign), as I find Illustrator as the superior software for creating actual artwork when compared to others like InDesign, which is more geared towards the creation of page layouts.

Mostly keeping to the sketches I drew up previously, I created my designs for the front/back cover characters and background, after which I fitted into a ready measured InDesign file which I would then on use to insert the type and spine-work (due to the software having a much larger type library).

After fitting the designs, I inserted the text for the back cover by copying it over from a Word document with the spellchecked text at the ready.

With the spine and type complete, I printed out the cover and placed it over the book I used for its measurements, which would serve as its main body.

Research – Book Illustrations

In order to understand what sort of designs are suitable for the type of book I am about to design, I decided to do some research into past and present designs for book covers of the “adventure tale” genre, as I hope that this may give me some idea of what sorts of designs may be good inspiration for the final design.

The following is what I found in my research about the past of illustrations:


(*) Book illustration as we now know it evolved from early European woodblock printing. In the early 15th century, playing cards were created using block printing, which was the first use of prints in a sequenced and logical order. “The first known European block printings with a communications function were devotional prints of saints.”

 Illumination with doodles and drawings, including an open-mouthed human profile, with multiple tongues sticking out. Copulata, “De Anima”, f. 2a. HMD Collection, WZ 230 M772c 1485.

As printing took off and books became common, printers began to use woodcuts to illustrate them. Hence, “centers for woodblock playing-card and religious-print production became centers for illustrated books. Printers of large early books often reused several times, and also had detachable “plugs” of figures, or the attributes of saints, which they could rearrange within a larger image to make several variations. Luxury books were for a few decades often printed with blank spaces for manual illumination in the old way.

New techniques developed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries revolutionized book illustrations and put new resources at the disposal of artists and designers. In the early nineteenth century, the photogravure process allowed for photographs to be reproduced in books. In this process, light-sensitive gelatin was used to transfer the image to a metal plate, which would then be etched. Another process, chromolithography, which was developed in France in the mid-nineteenth century, permitted color printing. The process was extremely labor-intensive and expensive though as the artist would have to prepare a separate plate for each color used. In the late twentieth century, the process known as offset lithography made color printing cheaper and less-time consuming for the artist. The process used a chemical process to transfer a photographic negative to a rubber surface before printing.

 

As many of us may know of the modern use of illustration, most illustration today is done through digital means on computer software, due to the many more design capabilities that software has compared to real life uses. The use of digital media also allows the easy use of digital printing, allowing mass production of any form of illustrative artwork on a larger scale than simply printing images off one by one (woodblock).


 

(*) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_illustration

Typeface

As possibly one of the most important aspects of this project, I am going to think about the possible form of typography that I will use within my final design for the book cover. Open receiving my book title during the beginning of the project, I had a fairly good idea for what sort of type I would likely go after, with that being a more old fashion type, with prominent serifs, due to the setting and creation era of the book and its story.

In order to figure out what sort of type I want to use for my project, I created various sketches of forms of type I though may be what I am looking for.

After I sketched each type on paper, I looked online and on Word to see if there was any existing forms of type available to use in my project that look similar to my sketches, with only a few successful finds.


 

After having looked at my desired type designs, I believe that I will likely go with Calson, an older form of type that would have been in the time era of the book (being the late (1600’s). The type itself is also very clear too both children and adults alike, and will serve as a good title/base font for my project. I chose to use Calson over other type such as New Roman or Roman in general as it is much neater than Old Roman, and despite looking similar, has a much more aesthetic appearance than the more modern looking New Roman.

Sketches

Today I created a fair few sketches of cover ideas which I hope in using for my final design. Each design I created is based on various notable scenes from within the book. I decided to create most of the designs based on the first adventure from the book (Lilliput), as that was only one I read, due to it being the most iconic of the four.

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From the sketches that I have currently done, I have taken the most interest in the first (top). I have taken an interest in these two because there doesn’t appear to be any similar designs of the book in previous illustrations I have seen before, and I want to make my designs as unique to others as possible. I may decide to use one of the designs as a possible back cover rather than just a front cover.

Also, because I have decided to choose designs that differ from the average designs I see of the book’s illustration, I am considering to make my cover aimed towards a younger audience. This may actually be because I found the actual story very complicated and that I wish to make the cover to represent a more child friendly version of the book, so that it may reach a new audience (as I have seen mostly adult based versions of the book).

Reading Gulliver’s Travels

While doing research on the book is completely fine, I decided that it would be a very good idea to try and read the book itself. Reading the actually material itself would give me some form of understanding of what really happens within the book’s story, as well as give me a good taste of what the theme/s of the book are centred like.

Due to the college library not having a copy (or an available copy) of the book on their shelves, I went and found and online copy of the original book online to read (*). Upon finding how long each of the four separate stories went on for however, I decided on just reading the first of the stories, as from what I have research and heard from other people I know, it is the most iconic and well-know of the four.


 

The book itself, I have found is fair bit more detailed and complex than I had first though, with heavy leanings towards political debates and reasoning. There was also a great amount of detail in certain areas which, besides world-building, I don’t think were too necessary for the story to keep moving. Although, due to this story having been made within the early 1700’s, it is obvious that they would have a completely different method of story telling than we commonly have now, where the more detail that a book has, the more real it would feel.

After having now read the story of Gulliver’s Travels, I’ve now gotten a fair few more ideas for possible designs, as I have now read more iconic scenes that I could easily use for my front/back cover design.

(*) – http://www.gutenberg.org/files/829/829-h/829-h.htm

Book Research

As probably the most important and obvious task before starting the designs for my book cover, I decided today to do some good research into the book that I am using for this project.

I went online to find some decent articles that would give me a brief summaries of the book itself, including the plot, the characters and the themes, all of which are very important when thinking about how to design a book cover, as you need to know exactly what the book entails and what themes or prominent parts of the book could be used within the main design. I could decided to use the characters or scenes of the book in the illustration, or I may decide to pick out a (the most) prominent theme within the story and make a more abstract styled design.

I also had a quick look for any illustrations for the story that may have been within the past, or any previously made book covers that I could take inspiration from. Open looking, I discovered that there was a fair amount of books made of the story within the past, whether they were made around the time of the original’s release or over the many years after I am unsure about,

New Project – Book Cover (Gulliver’s Travels)

Today we received a brand new design project, this time one that only last just this one week alone. The project task this time is for person to design and create a suitable book cover for a fiction book given to them, and complete that design by Friday (12th). In order to decide which book a each of us would create a cover for, we took turns pulling out pieces of folded paper with titles hidden inside.

The book title that received was the classic British story of “Gulliver’s Travels” (by Jonathan Swift), the stories of an adventurer who discovers several odd and interesting islands during his travels at sea, including an island ruled by horses. I am actually quite happy that I received this title due to it being such a great and well known, which due to its fantasy elements, could make for some very interesting designs.