Exercise Book Cover Design – The War of the Worlds

I realize I haven’t really written about my process with designing a cover for ‘The War of the worlds’. The research is all in my sketchbook along with annotation but what I haven’t said is I got to a point where I’d made some designs and they weren’t having the affect I had intended.

I had decided to try paper cutting a scene of the martian tripod creatures approaching the London Skyline, I found a photograph of the London Skyline from 1935 which fitted with when the story was set, as the landmarks that appear in the book, one of which is St.Paul’s cathedral so I looked for that.

Photo of London Skyline - 1935

Photo of London Skyline – 1935

Paper cut 'The War of the Worlds' cover design

Paper cut ‘The War of the Worlds’ cover design

I chose a red backdrop because red features so strongly in the book, as the martians fills the area with red weeds. In reality I don’t think the paper cut is bold enough, it looks to fragile almost gentle rather than showing the kind of terror element of the book. I thought it would be a good technique to create something visually stunning but it doesn’t make me think of it as a ‘classic’.

I tried the paper cutting technique with the title cut in too, and against a green backdrop thinking this might make look a little more sci-fi.


I think this is when I realised this particular technique was never going to provide the result I was hoping for. Stuck I gave myself a break from working on it and began looking around the internet and came across a Blog that Penguin Books creative team use, called on the strand.


Whilst reading through the archive posts, I came across a few book covers that I thought really captured a feel I was looking for so saved the images and let them inspire some designs.

David Eggers Portrait of Maurice Sendak

David Eggers Portrait of Maurice Sendak

Book cover design by Leanne Shapton

Book cover design by Leanne Shapton



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