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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.
For us job number one is to do some research, specifically into the titles that we are designing the covers for, but more generally into book cover design and the history of the book cover design. Here are three very useful books that I used in preparing this course. I found them very useful when you might find them useful too. And here is a link to a very useful blog called The Book Design Review by Joseph Sullivan. I think Joseph Sullivan is taking a break from this blog, because it hasn't been updated recently, but it's got some really, really good stuff on here where he's talking about his favorite book covers, so I encourage you to check this out.
If we look at designers in the past and we are going back several decades, Homage to Catalonia was written in I think 1939, so it's been designed numerous times and here are just some of the previous designs for this book, and it's good for us to familiarize ourselves with the sort of imagery that gets used. We have rifles and bayonets. we have red bandannas, and clenched fists, historical photos and here the work of the Spanish artist Joan Miro.
For Animal Farm, many of the cover designs prominently feature the book's main character, Napoleon the pig. An obvious choice, but nonetheless powerful for that. And some of the covers also feature some less unknown aspects of the story. Things like this one here which has the flag of animalism, which was the movement that the animals had signed up to, featuring the horn and hoof, the green flag.
And also here in this design by Shepard Fairey that features the windmill, which is also a very important part of the plot. So incorporating elements like this are a clear way of signifying that you, the cover designer, are familiar with the content of the book and I think make it a better design for that. If we look at the covers for 1984, we find that many of them feature the prying eye of the totalitarian state or of Big Brother specifically, and in some of them Big Brother is drawn here. Sort of implied here and here.
Some covers feature the text, the title, written out as words, some feature the title as numerals, which that's an interesting choice that we have. We can do it either way. So that's how these problems have been solved in the past. Let's see how we can improve upon them. Before we sit down with computers and software, it's going to be a good idea to sketch out some rough ideas. My ability to do thumbnail sketches is extremely limited, but nonetheless very useful to me.
I feel almost embarrassed showing you these because they are so childlike and rudimentary, but they help clarify my own thoughts, and I can easily discard ideas that I know just from having made a few pencil scratches in my sketchbook are just not going to work. So this will save you an enormous amount of time, and it will also help focus you on what are the design concepts that you really want to bring out with the book cover. In addition to the thumbnails you may also want to do some mind maps where you start at a central point, in this case with the titles that we are designing for, and radiate outwards from that point writing down really anything that comes into your mind.
Some people's mind maps are works of art in their own right. Mine is not, but they're very useful nonetheless. So having done our research into good book cover design, both historically and contemporary book cover design, having looked at how past designers have approached this design problem, and having done some thumbnail sketches and some brainstorming with mind maps, we are not ready to sit down with our software and design our book covers.
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