Before I started work on my cover designs, I thought carefully about the look of the designs in my head. If I have a picture of what I want in my head, it is easier for me to work to a goal. As the brief outlined that three different design ideas are required for this part of the assignment, I was eager to come up with three very different styles, with an aim to vary the target audience suitability from children to adults in order to demonstrate my consideration for different readerships. In the end, two of the three designs were aimed for children, as shown below:
This is a PDF copy of my initial idea for the cover aimed for children. Even though I liked this design concept, I thought it was perhaps too basic. Also, the original picture used for this included the sea background, which made it very hard to fill a background without making it blurry. Given more time, I would have put in a different, new background whilst making the whale’s skin colour consistent in colour. With more time this problem would have been minimal now given my proficiency in Photoshop compared to at the start of the cover design process. Below is the original picture.
This was the first attempt of a cover design, so the blurriness of the picture spread over a whole cover was a significant problem for me. When I revisited the cover design after completing my final design, I decided to use the styles pallet in Photoshop to whiten the ends of the covers and flaps so as to minimise the blur. Had this been the design I was going to use for my main cover, I would have done my own background. However, since it was just a concept idea, I thought it was most time effective to use the styles pallet. I like the effect it makes since it gives room for the typography which blends in well with the colour scheme. I would also add in other animals into the cover, travelling down the whale’s back if I was to finish the design.
This is my PDF copy of my adult based cover design idea. I think the typography goes beautifully well with the front cover and it was a tough decision not to carry out this design through until the end. My only qualm with the cover is that the typography suits the front cover but not necessarily the back cover and flaps. I thought that it may be difficult to read. Finding a complementary font was hard to find and I didn’t find one that felt right. Compared to my final design, which I thought was going well in both design and typography, I was more confident making my final design most complete.
This is a PDF copy of my final cover design. Primarily, this is a design made with a children’s readership in mind. However, I do think that there is a potential crossover market since the style is not overly childish for just to be aimed at children. As such, the language I’ve used in the back cover and flaps is slightly more sophisticated so as to attract potential adult consumers too.
When I started this cover, I searched different jungle pictures for the front cover. Here are the ones I liked most:
I liked the first picture but I felt that the picture was dominated by what is in the picture already – I felt that there was not much room to add what I wanted to in the picture without making it look cramped. Also, the picture wasn’t big enough to fit the dimensions in InDesign without looking stretched. This is why I scrapped this picture.
For the second picture, I liked the idea of incorporating the animals behind the leaves to give a sense of the animals hiding, whilst also portraying the notion of the reader having more to examine by looking at the cover, thus injecting a sense of intrigue to the cover. This would also mean that there was more to look at in the cover compared to my first idea, where there is not much to look at other than a whale and some animals on its back. The reason I rejected this image was because I thought it was too dark, in my opinion. Furthermore, I didn’t think that my knowledge of Photoshop was advanced enough to create this effect convincingly to a professional standard so I abandoned this idea and focus on the skills I did have.
This leads me to the final image. There was a great deal more space for me to work with, even to intertwine sea and land animals within the same picture, using the waterfall to incorporate the whale and crab. I thought that this would make for a strange, yet clever combination and make onlookers stop and look at the unorthodox design.
As for the ‘splash’ effect from the whale rising out of the water, I used a paintbrush to dab around the tail of the whale to convey the whale leaping out of the water. I then Photoshopped a sailor into the whale’s mouth to play on the idea of the sailor being stuck in the whale’s throat as what happened in the story ‘How the Whale got His Throat’.
A further note on the front cover: I put in Kipling’s face above the title in the front cover to experiment with how it looked. I took an original picture of his face – a black and white picture I found on Google – and filled in his face with a brush effect with careful precision. It took a long time for a small feature but I was glad I pursued as it added something to the cover, in my mind.
For the back cover, I originally wanted to use the front cover as a basis for the back but since a lot was already going on in the front cover, I thought it best to keep the back cover plainer. By flicking through the different effects and styles in the Photoshop panels, I came across the effect that can be seen in my final back cover using the image of the tree I downloaded from Google.
Adjusting the brightness on Photoshop, I made the background dark enough to go with the darker tone of the front cover. It went better like this than the brighter, desert look that came with the original effect. Also, the darker background allowed me to use the same colour for the text throughout the cover design. After playing around with positioning, I settled for the ‘wrap-around’ style in order to make the most of the space.
As for the animals, I decided to put the camel and rhino in line with the tree as this was the most obvious place to position them. Then I tried placing birds in the sky but I thought a simpler approach of drawing birds in looked better and suited the overall look of the cover. As for the tree, I wanted to do more than just add a tree. Subsequently, I spent time editing the snake in the tree so that it looked like it was wrapped around the tree and I was pleased with the result so I kept it. This was also the best place to naturally include the strapline, which was part of the brief.
Leading on from this, the decision to which font I was going to use for my final design was made mainly through experimentation. When I exhausted all the options available already on Photoshop and InDesign, I went online to find free fonts which would be appropriate for the style I was going for. After searching DaFont.com I came across a font called CF Jungle Regular which I immediately thought was a brilliant choice for what I wanted: a jungle theme.
In the actual cover, the intricacy of the font is more visible than it is here zoomed up but the vines that run through the font makes it appropriate for the jungle themed cover. However, the one downside to using this font, which turned out to be rather problematic, was that the font only worked with capital letters; in lower case, it went straight to a default font as shown in the font sample file I downloaded during the font installation.
I resolved this problem by using a separate font for the blurb and flaps content. Bell MT Bold was as good a font as possible which went well with the CF Jungle font. However, I realised that for the front cover and spine, CF Jungle was sufficient, even though I was restricted to using capital letters. All I did was change the size of the ‘Rudyard Kipling’ text to a slightly smaller point and it worked well. With the spine, I was glad to see that the jungle font worked in capital letters in between the two trees which I Photoshopped in to make it more obvious that they were tree trunks.
This font was what I used for the Page Set-up, this time in black and white since the brief said that it should not contain colour.
I then used the CF Jungle Font for the chapter openings so that it matched the cover design in some way.
The criss-cross border that is around the page and chapter heading was a lovely effect that I discovered purely by chance when I played with the borders. As a result, I added the borders to the front cover jacket so that there was more of a connection between both the cover and page design.
As for the leaves, butterfly and tree that runs throughout the Just So Stories page design I used the Special Effects brush option to scatter the leaves and butterfly. This was something which saved a lot of time and was a great addition to the page design. The whale and tree silhouette were then placed in. I felt they went with the jungle theme that is displayed in the cover design.
Finally, the content of the flaps of the jacket was something I had to think about a fair bit, particularly since I used the back cover for the blurb, so I had to come up with a way to fill both flaps. A brief contextual insight into Rudyard Kipling’s life was an obvious approach to take and this worked well, I feel, with the combination of both CF Jungle Font and Bell MT Bold fonts, as seen below. This demonstrates how the two fonts worked together to create a good effect.
As for the other flap, I decided that the best course of action was to do what many books include: quotes from newspaper and authorial sources which praises the book in question. I searched actual quotes from people on Goodreads and other blog sources in relation to Just So Stories. Then I made up realistic sources such as Philip Pullman, who has in the past written an introduction for Just So Stories, and David Walliams.
Overall, I am pleased with the outcome of my cover design and page set up. As a beginner to Photoshop and InDesign at the start of the module, there was a lot of work I needed to do prior to working on these assignments which would enable me to tackle the tasks laid out for me in the assignment briefs. I am impressed and proud at my achievements as I surprised myself by the quality of my designs and of the proficiency I feel I now have with Photoshop and InDesign compared to when I began the module. I believe I am now in a much stronger position to convince potential employers that I have a decent working knowledge of Adobe’s applications, which are necessary to book design and production.
The Tracy Beaker Typesetting Assignment
What I found challenging with the Tracy Beaker assignment was placing everything in a certain order whilst having freedom to choose fonts and typesets. There were some images too that I was able to place wherever I want and I spent a lot of time making sure everything looked right on the page. This was quite a fiddly process and took a lot of time to weave everything together.
For the half-title page, I wanted to make sure I didn’t overload the page with images. Even though it is a children’s book, I wanted to save imagery for the text itself. What I did first was attach the page border to all the pages using Master Pages. Then I experimented with fonts and the positioning for the title page until I liked it. I planned to use that as a basis for my main text font. This is what my title page looked like:
I liked the combination of the stars and the squiggle around ‘My Book About Me’ since it made it look more like a girl’s diary.
I decided that I liked the font for my main text. I was tempted to choose a font that resembled a child’s handwriting but in the end I decided that was too predictable. When I saw how my chosen font looked on the page next to images, I was happy. It was a clear, yet not widely used. The font and typeface I chose was High Tower Text, Regular.
In hindsight, I probably could have spaced out the text more but I was happy about how it all fit together as it was. When reading through the text and making necessary changes, I wanted to keep the writing style as close to that of a child as possible. So I had to think about how a ten year old girl might write and think. For example, I put in underscores and ellipsis for the times Tracy didn’t know something. Lines like ‘I am __ cm’s tall’ and ‘I started this book on… I don’t know’. It made it sound more like a child’s voice by doing this.
Another thing I wanted to do was not have standard bullet point symbols. It looked boring when I tried it. To combat this, I used one of Nick Sharratt’s squiggle illustrations to fashion my own bullet point symbol. This kept it looking like a diary entry from a girl rather than just standard bullet points. I really liked the effect it had so I duplicated the first one I did for all the bullet points Tracy makes.
Finally, for the blank spaces that was left at the end of the page, I decided to use the illustrations to fill out the page so it wasn’t just white space. This made it look more eye-catching, which is the point of Jacqueline Wilson’s books. I think this had a nice effect so I kept it.
Overall, I am happy with how my Tracy Beaker typeset looked. If I would change anything it might be to make the text bigger and subsequently fill more pages. But, for a first effort I think I did well to get rid of errors and to typeset something that looks professional.