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Designing a Book Cover
Illustration by John Hersey

Choosing typefaces


From:

Designing a Book Cover

with Nigel French

Video: Choosing typefaces

In creating this, the second design for Homage to Catalonia, using what I have referred to as the Big Book Look. The Big Book Look is a term I borrowed from Steven Heller and Louise Fili from their book Stylepedia, meaning big type for the title and big type for the author. Combined in this case with a symbolic piece of imagery, this representing a trench in which they fought and the red flag atop that trench and behind the trench a sunrise.
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  1. 2m 42s
    1. Welcome
      58s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 44s
  2. 29m 57s
    1. The project brief
      2m 30s
    2. Doing research
      4m 16s
    3. Setting up a document in InDesign CS5
      5m 4s
    4. Setting up a document in InDesign CS4
      6m 4s
    5. Putting your InDesign CS5 document on a grid
      3m 2s
    6. Putting your InDesign CS4 document on a grid
      4m 31s
    7. Setting up the document in Illustrator and placing it on a grid
      4m 30s
  3. 40m 39s
    1. Creating hand-drawn type with the Blob Brush tool
      4m 13s
    2. Using Live Paint to color type
      3m 40s
    3. Choosing typefaces
      3m 42s
    4. Creating a simple illustration using the Pen and Gradient tools
      8m 43s
    5. Applying type effects
      5m 42s
    6. Manual tracing
      4m 42s
    7. Using the gradient and transparency effects
      9m 57s
  4. 17m 27s
    1. Distressed type
      5m 42s
    2. More distressed type
      3m 35s
    3. Using mirrored type
      3m 34s
    4. Using giant wraparound text
      3m 56s
    5. Starting text on the cover
      40s
  5. 13m 7s
    1. Illustrating concepts with abstract shapes and transparency
      6m 27s
    2. Representing the book content with icons
      6m 40s
  6. 24m 8s
    1. Using historic photography
      6m 21s
    2. Using Illustrator to create a simple illustration
      4m 19s
    3. Using gradient mesh in Illustrator to create a simple illustration
      4m 55s
    4. Using Live Trace on a photograph
      3m 52s
    5. Using black-and-white images creatively
      4m 41s
  7. 25m 30s
    1. Developing a book set
      2m 50s
    2. Designing the back cover
      8m 42s
    3. Designing the flaps
      2m 41s
    4. Designing the spine
      11m 17s
  8. 12m 56s
    1. Using spot varnish
      4m 30s
    2. Preflighting your document
      4m 51s
    3. Preparing the PDF
      3m 35s
  9. 13s
    1. Goodbye
      13s

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Designing a Book Cover
2h 46m Intermediate Aug 26, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Join author Nigel French in Designing a Book Cover as he walks through several approaches to creating professional, engaging book covers using Adobe Creative Suite applications. This course covers document setup, composition and layout, illustration, typography essentials, and printing. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Researching the design and brainstorming ideas
  • Setting up a document in InDesign or Illustrator
  • Choosing typefaces, colors, shapes, and imagery
  • Hand-drawing type and using different type treatments
  • Creating illustrations from scratch
  • Using and adapting photographs for illustration
  • Preparing the book covers for printing
Subjects:
Design Print Design Projects Design Skills
Software:
Illustrator InDesign
Author:
Nigel French

Choosing typefaces

In creating this, the second design for Homage to Catalonia, using what I have referred to as the Big Book Look. The Big Book Look is a term I borrowed from Steven Heller and Louise Fili from their book Stylepedia, meaning big type for the title and big type for the author. Combined in this case with a symbolic piece of imagery, this representing a trench in which they fought and the red flag atop that trench and behind the trench a sunrise.

There is a passage in the book where Orwell talks about watching the sunrise behind the trenches. While I don't want to give you an English lit class, because that's not why you are here for, the point I want to make here is that if you can incorporate some salient detail like this in your book cover design, then it's going to be the stronger for it. In this discussion, I want to bring out three points and the first of these is an approach to choosing type. The second is how I created this simple illustration, and the third is working with the type and applying type effects.

So, in this movie we are going to be looking at the first of those things, how to choose the type, just one amongst an infinite number of approaches to choosing your type. Since we are working with a historical subject matter here, it make sense to go back and look at posters of the periods, specifically posters produced during the Spanish Civil War, of which there are some amazing posters. So, here are some of them and we can see that the type that they are using is very solid, blocky, very bold, sans- serif predominantly type, usually in uppercase and often rotated.

I wanted to get a match for one of these species of types, specifically this middle poster here. While I can match it closely by eye, I thought well, for extra authenticity it would be good to see if I could get an exact match. In such cases there is a very useful web site that will help us with that. It's called WhatTheFont, which is part of the myfonts.com website. So, let's go there. Here you can upload a screen capture of the letters that you are trying to match.

Then it will give you its best interpretation of that small picture where you have to help it out a bit to match the picture to the actual letters that you want. Let's see what it gives us. Now the returns it gives me are not exactly what I am after, but neither are they a million miles away from what I am after. So, perhaps in a different situation this may be a good way to go.

As it turned out, I didn't opt for buying one of these fonts and using it. Instead, I decided to go with Futura, which is a font that I already I have. But secondly, because Futura is very evocative of the age. We are talking about the late 1930s here. Futura was designed in the late 1920s. It was very predominant at the time. So, it's seems fitting for the subject matter. But before we get to working with the type, in the next movie let's see how we can create this simple imagery just working in Illustrator with the Pen tool, gradients and a bit more of the Blob Brush and a few effects.

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