Category Archives: Book cover designs

Cover design disasters

I’m not sure whether the cover designs are more worrying than the titles and subjects of the books on this website, but either way they’re good for a laugh:

On Trend

Below are some interesting cover designs I have recently harvested from the internet:

sketchy heads + bubbles

There’s definitely a trend of late for outlines of heads, speech bubbles, very sketchy, simplistic illustration, and hand rendered (or at least hand rendered style) typography. Sometimes a clever designer has managed all of these in one design as per the first cover top left.

Looks like I’m bang on trend with my latest 2 covers then. It’s a rare thing!

9781107043176frcvr 978110704396106

New work

It’s about time I posted up some new work samples, so here you go.

covers general May14

A range of different academic titles above, and (because I do so many) a range of medical titles below. Just a very small sample of what I’ve been up to over the last 9 months. I always wait for the designs to be approved before I post them up, so there are lots more in the pipeline.

covers medical May14

And finally some more cover designs for Hans Reitzels Forlag publishers in Copenhagen:

HRF covers May14

Recent work samples

Some more recent cover designs:

978052171653612 9780521716536I designed the cover for the second edition of this textbook (shown on the left) back when I worked in-house at CUP, so it was really nice to have the opportunity to update it to the third edition. The grumpy gorilla on edition 2 was very popular, so it was always going to be a challenge to match up to him, but I think cuteness has won out, and I like the simplicity of this image. He has a mischievous look in his eyes.

Another textbook cover:


And a random selection of some other titles:

Covers July13


Danish designs

There seems to be a Danish theme to my work just lately. Firstly for Cambridge University Press, I have been working on an illustration and jacket design for a book about Maersk Line – the Danish shipping company. The Danish authors (employee and former employee of Maersk) document the history of the company to show how it has grown over the last 40 years to become the global success it is now. Not plugging it or anything!

Maersk image The illustration concept was developed in-house at Maersk, at which point I took it on and recreated it from scratch, trying out different backgrounds and colours for the photos within the map. The idea is obviously the shipping routes between countries, with the focus being on people. The sepia tone of the main images mean they blend together nicely (no obvious division or special emphasis between the countries – that was specified) while having a bit more warmth and depth than black and white pictures (original concept), and they sit back slightly allowing the full colour images of peoples faces in the circles to stand forward.

I also couldn’t resist adding in a few Maersk logo stars, where the whoosh lines hit their intended target. The company corporate colours were used wherever possible, and typographically, I tried to use something similar to the Maersk branding. So it’s about as corporate it could be, without just slapping the logo across the front,  and yet it’s  still quite subtle.


Continuing with the Danish theme, I have been designing some covers for an academic publishing company in Copenhagen – Hans Reitzels Forlag, a part of the larger Gyldendal group.

HRF covers
I’ve done five covers so far, I hope there’ll be more. Each one has been a creative challenge (a nice challenge) to come up with a design concept, as well as the images and designs. I’m so used to being given images, or at least being told what sorts of images are required, it’s good to be pushed a little bit out of my comfort zone to come up with ideas on ethics or critical theory, once I’ve researched what they actually are!

More cover designs to come soon.

New work examples

Sorry it’s taken so long to post any new work. It’s all cover designs for CUP of late, not that I have any complaints about that. Thankfully, there is such a variety of design work just within this one area.

A while ago I posted about some book cover trends I had seen emerging of late, one of which involved the typography appearing to be stamped or stencilled and slightly distressed. It wasn’t long after that, that I had the chance to do a bit of type and image distressing myself.

9780521152365cvr  The text and image are meant to look as though they are stencilled or graffitied onto a slightly grubby wall. So the images started out as full colour photographs, were changed to black and white, and a few photoshop filters used to give them a Banksky-esque style. The text was just smudged and blotched in photoshop, all in one colour on separate layers, and then colour overlays were added to the layers (as it’s easier to change this later if necessary, as was the case).

And then there’s a whole host of medical titles:Medical titles Feb13

Med titles2 Feb13Understanding Probability – well I understand the probability of me getting any work as a hand model is very slim, unless I decide to do the photograph myself, seeing as the previous version was of such poor quality. I did give my nails a quick scrub and file first.Hand model coverAnd a few more big topic titles:Big titles Feb 13Just a very small selection of work.

Shirley Tucker and some classic book covers

Shirley Tucker is a graphic designer who worked at the publishing company Faber & Faber in the 60’s and 70’s. I hadn’t come across her until reading an article on the Creative Review blog.

This is a little video of her talking about some of the designs she did and a longer piece about her design for Silvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. It’s a beautifully simple graphic illustration, and a classic cover design that I think would still look great on the bookshelves today. I enjoyed watching this, hope you do too:

Also, on the topic of Faber & Faber, here is a link to their Flickr site which is a lovely collection of some of their classic book covers.

Book cover theories

Further to my previous post, this is an interesting article from the Guardian (I’m giving them a bit too much publicity lately aren’t I) called ‘Scent of a kitten: the 20 irrefutable theories of book cover design’. It focuses much more on fiction titles, although there are some similar themes to those I mentioned below.

And a lot of design ‘theories’ I knew nothing of before, including ‘turd theory’. Well I never! I think I could probably use that theory title in a different way mind you. Also, no.19 entitled ‘maximisation’, I personally call that the ‘in your face’ theory.

An interesting read anyway.

New cover designs

A cover to be designed typographically with no image, can sometimes pose a challenge. On this, they specifically wanted the colours to be black, red and white, using the following logo as a basis for the design.

Not the most inspirational design in the world, but Mondrian initially came to mind, and then as I worked on it, it became more Bauhaus / Jan Tschichold inspired, mainly because of the colours I think. I’ve always been a fan of Avant-Garde graphics from the 1920’s and 30’s, so it’s probably no surprise that when asked to design something in a blocky, typographic way in this colour range, it ends up going down this route.

It’s a simple design, but so unlike most of the covers I usually work on, it’s really nice to have the opportunity to do something more graphic and stylised. Phenomenological – new favourite word.

A couple of new textbook designs next. Above left shows the authors suggestion for a new astronomy title (us book designers see a lot of photoshop savvy authors who want to design their own covers, this being one of the better and less bizarre ones) and on the right my final approved design. A bit of photoshop work was needed to combine the two images and create an outer glow around the planet, and I get to add a photoshop lens flare effect, a tool I don’t get to play with often.

And finally another bioinformatics book. Nature combined with technical computer stuff. Here’s how we arrived at this …

The first 9 covers were initially submitted. The design middle row, left, was selected for revision, and the bottom 3 were the revised options, of which the bottom right cover was approved. Not all textbook covers get through as easily as this, but then the image selection and brief were more concise. Nice job!

New work samples

A small poster for the bookshop window, and a smaller version for posting out.

Below are recent cover designs for CUP. A mixture of topics and markets, though the first three prove anything ‘eco’ is hot right now.

Below are examples of new series or multi-volume books.