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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.
In these next attempts to try and come up with book cover solutions for a series of George Orwell books, Homage to Catalonia, Animal Farm and 1984, I'm trying to create a consistent look across the series of books by using this very simplistic approach of using three very graphical icons to represent the concepts in the books. And for each cover, I want to use a distinctive color, but otherwise the typography and the approach to the graphics is very much the same.
So there's not really much to illustrate in the way of technique here, except how we might build our own icon if we can't find pre-made vector artwork that we can download from a stock photo library as I did here for Animal Farm, but rather we need to make our own icons and I'm going to make this, the clenched fist icon here. Now in terms of the iconography I am using, obviously we need it to be relevant to the book itself. If we just remind ourselves of where we began this title, looking at previous examples of how these book covers have been illustrated, we find recurring themes, clenched fists, guns, red scarves, or bandanns, and in the case of Animal Farm obviously pigs feature very prominently as well as other animals, and for 1984 we have the very prominent or watching eye of Big Brother.
So I'm going to run through creating one of these icons and for this, I'll be using Illustrator. So I am going to start out with this picture of my own clenched fist, taken against my kitchen cabinet and I'm going to use Live Trace to trace this and then I'm also going to use the Blob Brush and the Eraser tool to simplify the tracing result. Firstly, let's look at this in Photoshop. Now in order to give myself a fighting chance with the Live Trace, I've increased the Contrast to make the edges more well defined.
But as we'll find when I come to Live Trace this, there is not really enough contrast on this side of the hand, so that it loses itself against the background and the Live Trace doesn't pick up the contour lines like we needed to. So having place this in Illustrator using File and Place, I'm now going to zoom in on it. Command+Spacebar, click and drag, or Ctrl+Spacebar, click and drag, and then I'm going to duplicate this layer by dragging it onto the New Layer icon and then select the top-most layer, perform the Live Trace, make sure we are ignoring white, and then I'm going to expand my tracing result so that I get vector shapes.
And now I'm going to zoom in and I'm going to use the Blob Brush to add in the lines that it didn't create for me. So I'm going to make sure that I have locked the background layer or Layer 1 and then come and choose my Blob Brush and I'm using a Wacom tablet and stylus for this. It is possible to do with a mouse. It's just a lot easier with a pen tablet. And I'm just going to put in a few connecting lines here.
Okay, that's the first step. Now I want to simplify some of the tracing results. So for this, I'm going to switch to my Eraser tool, zoom in, and rather than have this crinkly effect here, a result of all the wrinkles on my hand, I'm going to be erasing over that and smoothing it all out.
I'm also going to be getting rid of the tracing attempts to trace the hair on my arm. Let's make my arm a little bit thinner. I'll just come and put that back in with the Blob Brush. So when we have a simplified result that we're happy with, let's now turn off that bottom layer and we may realize there is a few problems that need fixing when we see the tracing result by itself.
So now what I'm going to do is I want to select all of these vector outlines and I'm going to merge them all into one, one shape. So from the Window menu I'll choose the Pathfinder panel and then click on the Unite option. So they are all now one continuous vector shape. Now I could save this as an Adobe Illustrator document and in fact, it would be a good idea to do that so that we always have it to go back to, but I actually what I want to do now is copy this and then paste it into InDesign.
And the reason I'm doing it that way is because I'll be able to edit the vector shapes directly within InDesign and I'm not sure yet exactly what color I want this to be filled with, and that's just going to make a little bit more flexible for me, being able to change the color in InDesign itself rather than having to come back to the Illustrator version. So I'm going to copy this, switch back to InDesign and in InDesign I will paste it into position, let's just come and delete the one that's already there.
And the sizing of the icons relative to each other is a little bit tricky. We don't want anyone to overwhelm the others, so I'm going to turn my guides back on. Using my guides, I want them roughly to be two grid squares in height or width, depending on whether they are vertical or horizontal. In this case, I've gone for making each of the central icons a little bit more prominent and bigger than the other two. But with this selected, I can scale it, holding down the Shift key to make sure I'm scaling it proportionally, and then, I can come to my Swatches panel and since I've pasted it into InDesign, I can now just apply the color directly within InDesign to the vector shapes.
So there we have an example of making your own custom icon.
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