Introduction to design

First week of being taught design by Beck Chilcott! Exciting!

Becky Chilcott is a freelance graphic designer with over ten years experience; she worked on Harry Potter, Jacqueline Wilson, with the Ministry of Stories… all fantastic stuff. And now we get to learn from her.

Our first task was reading blurbs from Opal Pumstead by Jacqueline Wilson, The Girl With All The Gifts (go read it, go), Noah Barleywater Runs Away, and more, and deciding what colours, typeface, illustrations or photographs we would use and then comparing them with the official covers. It’s a good exercise to practice generating covers that reflect their content.

I thought the most interesting cover designs was the difference between the hardback and paperback version of A Boy and a Bear In a Boat:

boy and bear hardback boy and bear paperback

The hardback, with the map and the small boat, is very clever and looks great (Ness Wood knocked it out of the park). At first, I felt that the commercial paperback suited the tone (that I’d gleaned from the blurb) of the book better and is more aimed at the target audience (children). But I changed my mind reading this review, and now I really want to buy the book. I think I would buy the paperback for a child and the hardback for myself.

The second part of the lesson involved learning to write a book cover brief. Designers work with illustrators to produce a cover. Research is a key part of anything, even in design, and designers will often start with a moodboard. When debriefing illustrators, it’s good to let them know where the text will be so that they can leave “white space” for the text.

Examples of a brief and type mockup for the illustrator:

week 1 brief week 1 textmockup

Elements to consider when writing a cover brief:

  • title, author name, illustrator name
  • straplines, quotes, blurb, flaps
  • price, ISBN, publisher logos, barcode
  • considering where it’ll sit on a shelf, market competition, target audience, age range
  • what genre
  • descriptive paragraph to pitch it
  • character/setting descriptions and time period
  • previous covers; you might want to reinvent to get new readers in
  • hierarchy: what you want to stand out
  • style (illustrative, photographic … ); similar titles you want it to look like or link to a moodboard
  • keywords
  • image size and file type
  • colour palette

Words of wisdom this week

Designing is a continual process and not just, boom, spat out a cover and it’s done.


Link of the week:

Lines and Colors – Notes and comments on visual art by Charley Parker


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