How I Design Book Covers

By November 25, 2013 December 7th, 2017 No Comments

Designing book covers and book jackets is arguably one of the most enjoyable jobs an illustrator can get his hands on.

When an author approaches me about designing their book jacket, I get that amazing feeling that I only remember from my days of training to be an illustrator. Pure excitement.

This is especially true when the author grants you privileges such as reading their book before anyone else, leaves you to consume and digest all of the facts and come back to them with some ideas, concepts or sketches.

Creating initial design concepts

When I sit down to design a book cover, the first tools to come out of my creative arsenal are the oldest and most trusted – a pencil and paper. Or in this case an entire watercolour set, various pencils and a brand new watercolour pad. I know that the final artwork will be created digitally, probably using photoshop, but that organic starting point never fails to get the process off on the right track.

You can sketch 10 quick ideas in half an hour, you can do this loosely, or you can push on and develop a visual in a relatively short amount of time. And maybe i’m old school, but I think even if you are going to work on a computer to complete the artwork, you need to start with a pencil and paper. It frees your mind up and ensures you don’t get bogged down in actions, textures, effects and, well, limitations.

Submitting the cover sketch.

I’m lucky in that people who commission me for book covers know what style of art they are going to get. Unless I state from the beginning that it may be wise to follow another style, authors know that when they receive that email titles ‘Cover Concepts’, there will be a handful of scans of pencil sketches, with a few photoshop versions loosely laid up to show my train of thought. Then we talk, we discuss, we throw further ideas into the pot and then we have once idea that we take away and develop.

So how long does this whole process take?

For the cover shown above, the entire process took 4 days. Admittedly as soon as David, the author, gave me his synopsis and explained the background behind it my mind was awash with ideas that just flew out. It’s right up my street this sort of novel, so creatively I had no issues whatsoever. A political thriller, a boys own story, tales of espionage, action and deceit? Well, who wouldn’t want to illustrate that.

As I type, the book is now at the printers and I will receive my copy within a few weeks. And I for one can’t wait to sit down and read it again.

Self Publishing Authors

With self publishing becoming one of the booming sectors Designers Up North are happy to help you in marketing your new book.

For more information on our Book Cover Design packages, please click here

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.