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Designing a Book Cover
Illustration by John Hersey

Representing the book content with icons


From:

Designing a Book Cover

with Nigel French

Video: Representing the book content with icons

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.
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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

Representing the book content with icons

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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