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Designing a Book Cover
Illustration by John Hersey

Doing research


From:

Designing a Book Cover

with Nigel French

Video: Doing research

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.
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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

Doing research

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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