In Mid-March, I wrote about a project I began in my Visual Rhetoric Class. The Challenge: To redesign a book cover/dust jacket! I am happy and proud to say that I have completed the project and submitted it to my professor for feedback as well as provide ways to improve the skillset in hopes of continuing this work in the future. Below is my reflection as well as the final design. Enjoy!
For this project, I wanted to combine my interests in design and reading, which manifested in redesigning the dust jacket for Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. I am one of those readers that does determine whether to at least pick up a book if the cover is appealing to me. Digging into how cover designers come about that final product was what I wanted to learn more about and where my style fits into that process. I was unaware that this was a profession, and I stumbled on an article entitled Meet the Designers behind Your Favorite Book Covers to read up on how ideas and book content are turned into designs.
To begin the design process for myself, I reread the synopsis as well as my review of the book from when I read it in a book club earlier this year. I wanted to pull major themes, symbols, and tropes from the literature but not confuse that with what the HBO Original series included in their content. I decided quickly that I was not going to design a television show tie-in but let the work speak for itself, without the connection to an award-winning show. From compiling these notes, I drew up a few mock-ups depicting these themes. My style lends itself to simplicity and subtleties. The initial drawings had imagery of playground equipment, an interrogation room, a beach, and plays on Audrey Hepburn and Elvis – all of which are aspects of the story. Traditionally, the spine and flaps of the dust jacket are pretty standard with what elements (mainly text) are a part of the design and I chose to stick to that custom. However, the design elements were to remain consistent throughout to make one cohesive cover.
Without further delay, take a look at my final design for Big Little Lies:
Moving to Photoshop and InDesign, I read through a tutorial that shows how to set up the template for a dust jacket. Once the template was in place, I took to Photoshop to put together the main cover design, sans text. I decided on contrasting colors to make the simple pearl necklace pop in addition to showing the texture of smooth and rounded pearls. The decision on the pearls came from minimalism, how clean it looked on a contrasting background, and the availability of images that I felt would work and convey the rhetoric as it pertains to the themes of the book. Simplifying and decluttering the imagery of the cover was important to frame the text that would be added later. Also, having the flaps be text heavy, I wanted the covers to be more about the imagery than the text. To highlight the importance (and recognition) of text, a hierarchy was implemented for the title, author, and relevant book when in InDesign. Modularity was an issue I ran into several times when it came to the text on the flaps – the amount of text, the alignment of the text, in addition to an image and diversifying the font sizes, styles, and color within the constraint of a thin element. I felt that the rhythm and balance of the pearls on the front allowed for easy reading of the title as it follows the path as well as continuing on the spine and the back cover.
Overall, I highly enjoyed this independent project and hold book cover designers in the highest of regards. I am hoping to continue to develop this skillset as I am gaining more confidence in Adobe products and conveying themes and messaging in a visually appealing and accurate manner.