Monthly Archives: February 2016

Session 14 – Cover Grids (18.02.16)

Cover grids enter into a more mathematical mode of book production. Adhering to specific dimensions is essential when it comes to working out the size of the book’s jacket and cover flaps, if applicable. The reason for this is simply due to the size of a book differing depending on what type of book it is; for example, a picture book will have a very small spine and larger, wider front and back covers compared to that of a fiction book which will usually have a more compact size and wider spine. As Becky Chilcott explained in the session, to determine the size of the spine you need to know the number of pages in the book.
I learnt today that books are bound in multiples of 16 and are always set with a bleed. This is the extra 5mm used for trimming a book cover when printing. Crucial elements to a cover design should not be less than 5mm to the edge in case it gets cut. Below, these pictures show the basic dimensions a book may have; the front and back flaps are those mainly associated with hardbacks.



Using grids a means of producing designs for books first started by Polish freelance designer Romek Marber as he ‘conceived a grid layout for Penguin book covers that became one of the most praised and recognised layouts of all time’ (Book Design Blog). Due to its relevance in book production even now, his relevance to publishing is easily acknowledgeable. Below is a classic Merber grid layout:

Marber Grid Penguin Book Cover Design

Today, Adobe InDesign is the application which does most of the leg work for you. However, you still need to set the dimensions in yourself, thus making it mathematical due to the necessity of knowing the dimensions you need for a specific book in advance. Therefore, we experimented with basic cover designs using cover grids and after a while I was able to produce a basic front cover with a bleed. Using Photoshop to create the design I wanted, I transferred this into InDesign, fitting it within the grids. I now feel more assured having practised this that I can produce a cover design for the assignment later in the module so this makes me feel optimistic going into next week.


Book Design Blog. A Brief History of the ‘Marber Grid’ – The layout that changed book covers forever, Book Design Blog. [accessed: 20.02.16].

Eye Magazine (2004) Penguin Crime, Eye Magazine.



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Session 13 – Working with type (11.02.16)

A relatively straight forward concept maybe, but there were some pieces of information I learnt in today’s session which I had not thought of before when it comes to type. In publishing, even the smallest mistake such as misusing a semi colon is criminal; it is an error which simply should not occur so it was beneficial for me to distinguish all the forms of grammatical errors that can be made in order for me not to make the embarrassing errors myself in the future.
One area which was covered in the session was the impact of font and how even this can say something about the title of a book. Experimenting with font was therefore a useful exercise as I could see some fonts really did suit certain themes more than others. Becky Chilcott discussed the difference between font, typeface and typography since there is a misconception for everything type to be seen as ‘font’.
* Font – A font is the combination of typeface and other qualities, such as size, pitch, and spacing.
* Typeface – The typeface represents one aspect of a font. The two general forms are serif and sans serif.
* Typography – Typography is, quite simply, the art and technique of arranging type. (Creative Bloq).

Every designer needs to understand typography. All three definitions intertwine and are reliant upon one another when it comes to book design. A good, stand out font for the book in question is essential, to the degree that books are recognised by that font. An example of this is the Twilight books; its font automatically associates itself to the book and in the last few years, that font has been discouraged for all books.

I now realise how font is essential in book design and can be the difference between making a sale and staying on the bookshelf, forgotten. I will take careful steps into deciding the font type for my own book design for the assignment in this module.

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Picture Book Cover Analysis


‘Superworm’ is illustrated by Axel Scheffler whose work here is littered with strong, bright, colourful images which will appeal to a child, so too parents looking to inspire their children with colour and getting used to animals. It gives nature an exciting twist as the imagination is allowed to bloom and so the visual representation to do this here is very strong. The worm and other animals look friendly too and this will help to engage a child’s connection with the characters.
Due to the front cover being packed with detail, the title for the book is appropriately short so that the picturesque nature of the book cover is not ruined or the text get in the way of the pictures. To this end, it is clever to have the title in the space for the sky, even more so to use the title as an extension to the picture as seen with the spider hanging off from the title. This is a great use of the space and the effect works well overall. The font is bold and easy to read which is good as this makes it easier for young children to associate themselves with the alphabet.
Potentially, there are too many characters introduced in the cover. Although the child will be able to distinguish which character is ‘Superworm’ the other characters may divert attention away from the worm, who is the main character. It may lead to confusion as to why only the worm is ‘super’. Introducing the other characters could be argued to be better placed in the story only, and not on the cover. However, the inclusion of all the characters together displays a kind of friendship – something the book may be striving to convey as its moral. Personally though, I think the Superworm stands out well. If it had been a worm lying flat on the ground it wouldn’t have given the same effect. As it is, the worm looks super, whereby even the other animals are looking up to the Superworm. In all, I think it is a very well laid out picture book.


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Session 12 – Working with imagery (04.02.16)

Designing book covers inevitably involves using images and as such, the importance of them was discussed in today’s session. The very basic features of images using either RGB (Red, Green, Blue) or CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) format was something I had not heard of before today’s session so this was a simple, yet very important point to keep in mind for my own designs later in the course. Deciding between the two is decided before the design has even started. RGB is traditionally used in digital as the quality and range of colour is not as high as that of printed books. Therefore, CMYK is used for printing.
Another key part of using imagery in production is that of photography. And with that comes licencing laws which needs to be considered carefully before and during a cover design. There are 3 main types of licencing for using pictures:
Rights Managed (RM) – An exclusive contract meaning only you can use that picture.
* Royalty Free (RF) – The option which allows anyone to use for different things.
Microstock (MS) – Images which are sourced from libraries – for example, Flickr.

A further aspect of using images in cover design which needs to be considered is that of the image quality. For the purposes of cover design, the most important thing to understand is ‘dots per inch’. This is the number of dots per inch printed on the image; the higher the number of dots, the better the quality.

This is the best way of displaying the difference between the two. The 72 dpi image is in low resolution and can be used in digital books, whereas the 300 dpi image is in high resolution and can be used in print books. The latter also means that changing the size of the image will make no difference; the quality of the picture ensures, for example, that the image does not pixelate. This was a very useful piece of information and will be good knowledge going forward when making my own front cover. For the rest of the session we put this knowledge to the test by having some time on Photoshop, and this is something I need more practice with as I am finding it quite confusing.

1. vsellis. (2013) Understanding DPI, Resolution and Print vs. Web Images. [accessed 10 February 2016].

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