Art: Designing a book cover

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  1. #1
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    Designing a book cover

    Hiya folks,

    the deadline to get my NaNoWriMo novel printed (I'm at a proud 219k words - after cutting down from 232k) is the day after tomorrow and besides having to do the page formatting, I also need a cover! This time I want to do it myself.

    I'm pretty set on the colour scheme. I've been writing on a dark brown background with a turquoise font and it's just set the mood for the story, so I want it on the cover.

    The monster is called (Stolen/Steel/Heart) and, yes, that crazy punctuation is part of it. So far I know the colour scheme, I've got a font that I think I like, (although something more "computerish" might also be fun) and I know that I want a heart on the cover as in, one of those anatomical hearts with tubes and stuff. There's books where stolen hearts are about romance - mine isn't.

    I'm not sure about the title placement, though. It's hard to divide it nicely without completely breaking up the punctuation stuff, but spelling it out in one line makes the font quite small. I've tried it on a diagonal, any thoughts?

    Also got a heart already and I tried first placing it in the bottom right corner, didn't really work out though. Any better ideas as to where to put it? Is the center okay?

    Fire away, any critique is very welcome - I've never really tried graphic design and the sooner I get this thing done, the better

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    Last edited by Kjesta; June 28th, 2011 at 04:45 PM.


    Check these out too:
    Rotor - GoGoJoJo

    "Limited drawing skills are OK if they are offset by a fearless commitment to putting images on paper."

    "I mean, What is a chair? It's an anti-gravity device." Glen Keane

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  3. #2
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    the composition here is my biggest concern. the visual weight of the typography is really similar to the heart illustration, and theres no hierarchy. no focal point. one needs to be more emphasized than the other.

    i kind of dig the typeface, but i think it would be better if it were written out straight across. i dont like how the slashes are so much thicker than the letters though, and the brackets dont line up quite right with the text. all can be changed with just a minor adjustment.

    the flat brown background is really unflattering. if this had some texture to it, even the paper it would be printed on, it would do wonders for it.

    its hard to critique it though without knowing anything about the books subject matter. is there anything you could tell us about the story that would help with the design or better understand your direction?

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  5. #3
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    Thanks for all the concrit, as I said I don't have the last clue about proper desgin!

    So in your opinion it's okay if the writing turns out small? Otherwise I can't fit it into one line. I'm working with GIMP, which doesn't let me change font size within a single text "area", but I suppose if I did the brackets and slashes separately it'll work?

    A texture is something I hadn't thought of. It would have to be something rough, they travel a lot through the extremely dry plains so maybe something stone-like, or like wrinkled paper. Where does one get texture from these days? Venturing a guess, I'd find myself a picture of a texture, turn it into black and white and set the opacity quite low, then have it as a layer over the brown? (You can see that I'm a real master at digital stuff here.)

    I'm too lazy to write it all up, so I'll just give you the monster of a synopsis I had on my printouts for people who wanted to help me editing:

    Fifteen years after the Wars that broke the world, little is left save wastelands, a corrupt government - controlled by two rivalling criminal organisations - and cities scattered across the continent that hold all of humankind.
    Patri is one of the orphans, resulting of a series of epidemics, and when her room mate and best friend Laine dies, her world is shattered. Then, one day, as she wanders the streets in her restless grief, in the back alley of an abandoned part of the city, she finds a heart. She takes it home to take care of it and give it back to its owner - until a mysterious boy, Tian, arrives with a squad of members of the infamous Resistance. He wants the heart and he wants it for someone he has never spoken to.
    Patri insists on going along. There are questions she wants answered. What is there outside of her city's borders? What is going on between the government and the evil twin organisations? Who is the Resistance? Who is Tian and what links him to the boy whose heart he is so determined on giving back? And what role have they played in starting the Wars that changed the world?
    As she gets closer and closer to finding answers, Patri also learns that there is just so much more between heaven and earth, and between the two boys, than she would ever have expected.

    ------

    As the story progresses, Patri finds out that the government is being black-mailed by two mysterious criminal organisations called the "Twins" that have the single most potent power source in the world: Experiment B, counterpart of Tian who was bred in the same laboratories. The two boys are linked, able to feel each other's location and constantly pulled towards each other; both are equipped with telekinetic and healing powers that nevertheless work in complete opposite ways. (Think, yin and yang.)
    It also turns out that the Twins, also named Artemis and Apollo, are locked in a power struggle that prevents them from taking over the world (yet) and were actually responsible for causing the first of the Wars - these events are directly related to the creation of Experiments A (Tian) and B. B is still in their control while Tian has been rescued by the Resistance when he was nine and has since become member of Squad Q, one of its elite units. His team members have long since become his family and support system that keeps him sane.


    All in all it's a bit post-apocalyptic, a bit supernatural/sci-fi, with great focus on the characterisation. Quite dark and gorey at times, everyone has a sort of grey and grey morality, relationships (gay, straight, family, mentor/student, superior/inferior, etc) are the driving force besides the plot itself. It's a stark mix of technical/electronical and organic things, so I'd like to have the cover reflect that somehow. Maybe a circuit motif on the spine or something? Or as a texture? (Actually, I like that idea.)

    Last edited by Kjesta; June 29th, 2011 at 04:10 AM.


    Check these out too:
    Rotor - GoGoJoJo

    "Limited drawing skills are OK if they are offset by a fearless commitment to putting images on paper."

    "I mean, What is a chair? It's an anti-gravity device." Glen Keane

    "The difficult part is continuously realizing when you've stopped enjoying the process, and re-aligning yourself. It's kind of like meditation/being an art ninja..." ceddo
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    Me again. Toyed around with the circuit idea and what I came up with is this, just as an idea.

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    Last edited by Kjesta; June 29th, 2011 at 05:35 AM.


    Check these out too:
    Rotor - GoGoJoJo

    "Limited drawing skills are OK if they are offset by a fearless commitment to putting images on paper."

    "I mean, What is a chair? It's an anti-gravity device." Glen Keane

    "The difficult part is continuously realizing when you've stopped enjoying the process, and re-aligning yourself. It's kind of like meditation/being an art ninja..." ceddo
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  7. #5
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    yea just work with the type a bit. it dosnt have to be huge and take up all the space

    i like the texture, you have the right idea i think. maybe try a grunge texture over top of it? go here for textures: http://lostandtaken.com/

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  9. #6
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    I hadn't thought of a grunge texture... Ah well.

    I'm finished for now, the deadline is 8h 30min away (until then they must have approved it, so no handing things in anymore) and I've been slaving away at the print file and the cover for 18h (with 3h of sleep) within the last 2 days. I did what I could and if for some reason the printing company doesn't accept my cover file I might add the grunge yet.

    As for the cover - it's turned out okay. It was a real battle against both GIMP and time, seeing that I've never done anything like this before. The way I fitted the texture together is really awkward in places but I was literally writing until the last moment so I had to cut corners for the cover. I also noticed last-minute that the gun and other turquoise elements are see-through but couldn't for the life of me find out how to fix it within ten minutes, so I just left it at that. The white square is for the barcode. Next year I'll hopefully get to work earlier and be able to make my own graphics too, these are all scrounged from Google pictures... Wouldn't have done that if it weren't going to be a single copy only.

    Now I'm just holding my thumbs that my files will be approved until 9am!

    Thanks for the help again

    edit: the white edge isn't part of the cover, kept it there remind myself where the trim size was or sth.

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    Last edited by Kjesta; June 30th, 2011 at 07:46 PM.


    Check these out too:
    Rotor - GoGoJoJo

    "Limited drawing skills are OK if they are offset by a fearless commitment to putting images on paper."

    "I mean, What is a chair? It's an anti-gravity device." Glen Keane

    "The difficult part is continuously realizing when you've stopped enjoying the process, and re-aligning yourself. It's kind of like meditation/being an art ninja..." ceddo
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  10. #7
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    Too late, but...
    Make both the heart and the text smaller.
    Center the heart, title above, author below (or vice versa).


    Tristan Elwell
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  12. #8
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    Thanks, Elwell. I'm still waiting for the print approval so if I have to change something anyway, I'll take those tips to heart. With the text, do you mean shorten it or make the font smaller? I suck at writing synopses but I think I can cut out a few lines.

    edit: Better? I always have trouble summing my plot up, always give too many details.

    After the Wars, little is left of the world save wastelands, a corrupt government and cities scattered across the continent that hold all of humankind.

    When Patri - one of many orphans - loses her best friend Laine her world is shattered. Then, one day in an abandoned part of the city, she finds a heart. She takes it home to take care of it and give it back to its owner - until a mysterious boy, Tian, arrives with a squad of members of the infamous Resistance. He wants the heart and he wants it for someone he has never spoken to.

    Patri insists on going along. There are questions she wants answered. What is going on between the government and the evil twin organisations? Who is Tian and what links him to the boy whose heart he is so determined on giving back? As she gets closer and closer to finding answers, Patri also learns that there is just so much more between heaven and earth, and between the two boys, than she would ever have expected.


    edit2: Screw this, I'm changing it. I figure that something will go wrong anyway (calculated the trim size wrong or something like that) so I may just as well be prepared. And if it goes all right and the suckier cover is on it, I still want to get this finished.

    Last edited by Kjesta; June 30th, 2011 at 08:54 PM.


    Check these out too:
    Rotor - GoGoJoJo

    "Limited drawing skills are OK if they are offset by a fearless commitment to putting images on paper."

    "I mean, What is a chair? It's an anti-gravity device." Glen Keane

    "The difficult part is continuously realizing when you've stopped enjoying the process, and re-aligning yourself. It's kind of like meditation/being an art ninja..." ceddo
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  13. #9
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    No, I just meant the front cover title/author text, smaller point size. One of the trends in cover design for the last 10-15 years has been smaller text, more space, especially in high-end fiction.


    Tristan Elwell
    **Finished Work Thread **Process Thread **Edges Tutorial

    Crash Course for Artists, Illustrators, and Cartoonists, NYC, the 2013 Edition!

    "Work is more fun than fun."
    -John Cale

    "Art is supposed to punch you in the brain, and it's supposed to stay punched."
    -Marc Maron
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  15. #10
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    Ah okay. Well, if high-end fiction does it it's just about good enough for mine I think I'll shorten the synopsis a bit anyway, though - it's very rambly and this time I took painstaking care not to make the novel itself rambly, so it would fit better.



    Check these out too:
    Rotor - GoGoJoJo

    "Limited drawing skills are OK if they are offset by a fearless commitment to putting images on paper."

    "I mean, What is a chair? It's an anti-gravity device." Glen Keane

    "The difficult part is continuously realizing when you've stopped enjoying the process, and re-aligning yourself. It's kind of like meditation/being an art ninja..." ceddo
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  16. #11
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    Sooo, I changed it. I just got my file approval but with the note that a few pictures inside the book have a too low dpi. I don't have to change it to get it printed but I contacted the company anyway, let's see if I'll still get to change it and swap the covers. I'm late for the free proof copy anyway.

    All in all I consider this project to be success I've learned much more about GIMP within two days than I have during the last year and even if it's not perfect, it's pretty close to what I imagined. Thanks again, folks!

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    Check these out too:
    Rotor - GoGoJoJo

    "Limited drawing skills are OK if they are offset by a fearless commitment to putting images on paper."

    "I mean, What is a chair? It's an anti-gravity device." Glen Keane

    "The difficult part is continuously realizing when you've stopped enjoying the process, and re-aligning yourself. It's kind of like meditation/being an art ninja..." ceddo
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

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