Following my tutors report and some feedback from a friend on my critique page (see link to post below) I wanted to make some changes to my book cover designs before sending them off for formal assessment.
My tutor noted in his report that he felt the Photographs front cover was the least successful. He commented that the problem lay in “the dark cameras on the dark cover, the headline typography running length ways and the relationship between the digital text and box on the reverse”. My friend commented on my critique page to say he didn’t feel the designs were colourful/eye grabbing enough to stand out on a book shelf. He also felt like they didn’t work as a series. He also commented on the all-caps font I’d used for the front cover and back cover, saying these would be difficult for anyone with dyslexia to read so I might wish to change them.
To try and address those concerns I took a look again at the cover design for all the books, starting with changing the font used for the subheadings and blurb of the books. I changed it too a family called Magalines. A font which is a serif font with a modern clean feel, easy to read but still playful.
The font improved the covers, but didn’t address some of the more fundamental issues. So I went back to the drawing board so to speak and gathered objects to remake the Photographs & Typography covers. Both of these covers featured headings which ran down the side of the cover and I felt like this didn’t fit with the Colour cover which had the heading sat centrally. I decided to decrease the size of the font for the others covers to allow for me to place the titles centrally on the cover.
I also worked on a more colourful arrangement of objects for the Photographs cover, taking away the black background square and using only one smaller camera. I think this had a brightening effect, and lifted the feel of the cover overall:
I wanted to inject some colour into the Typography front cover too but still make use of the objects I used in the first few versions. I felt one solution would be to ink up the printing blocks so they provided a pop of colour and I used some large alphabet wooden printing blocks to print a central letter ‘A’ to stand as a visual reference to the guide title ‘A is for..’. I also added some contrasting colour with lilac coloured post it notes placed underneath the graph paper. I think this just helps add more visual interest and a sense of fun.
I played with a few arrangements before settling on the version above:
I then set about editing the photos using Photoshop (as previously) then placing them into Illustrator. I found that the photos wouldn’t scale to fit the size of the front cover as well as they had done previously. So I decided to add a background coloured box behind the photo on the front cover. It certainly adds more colour/makes the covers more eye grabbing. But I’m not sure if it’s quite balanced, doesn’t look as professional as the previous covers.
Looking at the new versions alongside each other I do feel they look much more like a series than they did previously. They all look much more playful and appealing. I decided to do one final front cover experiment using one of the sparse arrangements of the Typography front cover to try and add in some vector drawings.
I drew some of the objects I had previous placed on the cover as pen illustrations and then used Illustrator to turn them into vector drawings. You can see the sketches in my sketchbook below:
I wanted to experiment with how they looked on the front cover but using just one cover to begin with. The result was interesting…
In theory the combination worked but in practice the illustrations get lost against the photo. I’m not sure if adding more illustrative elements would help improve this or not but I decided to leave the experiment there and use the illustrations on the spine of the book/back covers instead.
I think using the the illustrations on the spine work much more effectively than on the front cover and is an improvement to the some what rough looking photos of objects that were on the spines previously. I also made sure to change the background colour of the spine to that of the blue on the front cover for continuity.
Finally I set about working on the back covers. I decided to remove the black paper used in the previous version and to try and use new objects and a new arrangement to see if these improved things.
Colour Book back cover:
I went through several different arrangement of objects for the colour back cover, trying to inject a sense of fun into it, to appeal to the young target audience. I switched the black paper of the previous version for blue paper, and included some other papers to type onto after being inspired by the book ‘Hand Job’ by Mike Perry.
I took the photos of the book by Mike Perry to help explain the inspiration for my back cover. I admired the way Mike Perry had used layered/collaged elements, like the lined white card and pink paper as a back drop for type or hand lettering. It has a very loose fun feel, which I felt would fit with the audience I was aiming to reach.
In the photo below I tried to make use of the letters from the front cover title but on the back cover. I then tried to arrange colourful/artistic objects that children would be familiar with so, paint tube, chalk sticks, pencils around a central block of blue paper. I used some letraset letters to create the name of the publishers and a price for the back cover.
For the third arrangement above I tried to add a bit more movement to the image by misplacing/angling some of the objects. I don’t think it had the effect I’d hoped for so I returned the objects to central positions. Having tried to use the word ‘colour’ I felt like this gave more of an visual link to the front cover, and might confuse a viewer. Taking the title away seemed to help the back cover appear like a back cover, with some room to breathe!
In the arrangement above (arrangement 4) I felt like the eye was drawn to the large amount of white space before the start of the blue paper. So I tried moving some elements to sit above the blue paper to try and reduce some of the white paper on show (see image below). I think this looks more effective as a photo but I wasn’t sure if the white space is actually good necessary space for adding a subheading in type digitally…
I played with one more arrangement by simply throwing on some shiny shapes/hole punch waste onto the back cover. I think it looks fun but also felt it might distract from being able to clearly read any type applied to the image.
Photographs book back cover:
As with the colour cover I started by trying to make use of the title lettering, and then arranging elements around the page. The first two arrangements (see photos below) made use of some film negatives, and small pegs, triangle shapes. Again in theory adding the film negative was a good way of visually reinforcing the theme of the book, but in practice they dominate the cover, due to being so dark.
I then removed the film negatives from the arrangement leaving the lettering and other elements (see photo below). I felt although this was a simpler arrangement it felt much more balanced, with all the elements having a set place, the cover didn’t feel too busy.
For the final arrangement I took the title lettering away, to emulate the arrangement that I used for the Colour back cover. I feel like whilst it has quite a structured feel, created by the geometric shapes and edging round the blue paper, the overall cover was more effective than the first design I had.
Typography back cover:
As with the previous covers I started with incorporating the lettering from the title. I didn’t add much to my first arrangement just some paper cut out shapes spread out like confetti to add some fun/keep the eye moving. I kept the same format (as in blue square, box for price etc) but moved and added some typography based elements as I experimented with arrangements…
For my next arrangement I wanted to bring in the wooden printing letters from the front cover but place them alongside the cut out letters I’d used for the different covers in a semi-random arrangement. I liked this arrangement as it kept the same limited colour palette as the front cover (all the letters were in the same colours or prints as in the front cover) but the different size of letters added fun and interest.
I tried to extend the use of different lettering or fonts in my third back cover arrangement (see photo below) by adding in some alphabet stickers of a different font. I kept the colour palette limited by using stickers of a very similar colour to the cut out letters. I think it keeps the eye moving and gives the impression that typography is a diverse subject.
You might also notice a letter ‘F’ sticker on the white ruled card to the left hand side of the cover. This is to be the starting letter of the word ‘Featuring’, but with the remainder of the word typed, an attempt to mix the digital with the physical aesthetic.
My fourth arrangement was a little more sparse and experimental, I withdrew the cut out paper letters and added in more of the stickers of different fonts. I tried to keep continuity again by restricting the colour palette and repeating certain letters (see the ‘f, p, c, q’ in photo below). I think thought the smaller size of the stickers meant the letters ended up getting a bit lost on the page.
So I returned to trying to add in more interest to the cover by re-incorporating the cut out letters in my fifth arrangement. I found that amongst the sticker letters of the previous arrangement, the cut out letters helped bring out the stickers and make them more visible (the effect I had wanted).
I tried two final arrangements, the sixth involved bringing back the title lettering. But I felt this ended up being a very busy arrangement, the title letters seem to just get lost and I couldn’t see how the viewer would be drawn to the blurb with so much in the background/sides to look at. I thought that perhaps by removing some the lettering on the sides of the page that might allow the title to come through again (see arrangement 7 further below). But in the end I think (as with the other covers) it works best to leave the title letters off the back cover.
Final complete covers:
Looking at the finished versions of the three covers, I feel like the changes I’ve made are an improvement. Whilst I had felt the initial designs I created (before tutor) feedback were a step in the right direction these covers fulfil more areas of the original brief. I think the limited and consistent colour palette, particularly the background blue have helped to bring the covers together as a series. I also think the arrangement of objects in the photographs is also more dynamic than in the original versions which adds a sense of fun and hopefully would entice the younger audience to look into the books.
In terms of weaknesses, I think the photography could be improved. I photographed each cover on different days, and under natural lighting so the levels of brightness in each image are somewhat different. I think controlling the environment for taking the photos would be a good step to improve that. Having said that the blue background adds to the sense of it being a series I do feel somewhat torn about it’s presence. In my original idea I had hoped for the photo’s to take up the whole cover, but found in the scaling of the photo to fit the dimensions of the cover that I couldn’t scale it to fit without distorting the quality of the image. It was at that point I introduced the blue background colour, and then used the same shade across the sections of the cover.
I’m getting the typography guide cover and pages printed at a professional printers so I’m interested to see how they’ll appear on paper, particularly how the colours will look given that I’ve only seen them under my screen resolution or printed from my home printer, here’s hoping they look okay!!