Category Archives: Book cover designs

All the Sonnets of Shakespeare

It’s about time I started updating this blog with new projects I’ve been working on, and as I’ve been lucky to have some lovely creative jobs in the last 12 months, I now have some designs and illustrations that I’m proud to share.

I’m starting with ‘All the Sonnets of Shakespeare’ by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells, which was commissioned to me at the end of 2019.

This really was a dream job for me. The brief stated it was to be a ‘gift edition’ book, basically meaning that no expense would be spared on lovely coloured endpapers, ribbon and gold foil embossing on the cover in order to make it a special book worthy of buying for the beauty of the book itself, which is always a plus for a designer to start with, and a rare thing in academic publishing these days.

If that wasn’t exciting enough, the brief went on to request an illustrated botanical theme (a subject close to my heart) and they referenced a book cover done by one of my current favourite illustrators. If I could have written a brief to myself for my dream job, this would probably be it. No pressure.

After lots of research into which plants or flowers actually get a mention in Shakespeare’s sonnets, and deciding to dismiss roses as being way too obvious and a little too romantic (which was something the publisher requested I should avoid), I ended up with violets and lilies on my list.

The first two visuals covered aspects requested specifically in the brief for some generic foliage in gold and a background pattern which I did with the violets. However, for the third and final visual, using the lilies, I decided to go with a more symmetrical design, working the flowers and the twirly gold strands (another aspect requested) around the typography to frame it in an elegant, classical way. This is a style used on cover designs a lot, and one that I always like. It allows you to fill the space, perfectly balance the visual weight of type to illustration, and blend the two together in a harmonious design.

I’m happy with the end result, and so happy that this design was chosen. It seems to have gone down well with everyone too, which is an added bonus. I hope I have done justice to what should be a real treasure of a book.

PS: once I can get my mitts on an actual copy, I’ll show some photos of more of the book. Some further projects to share with you soon.

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:

http://kindlecoverdisasters.tumblr.com

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:

978110700444313

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.

978110703781603

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!