Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Book Cover: Drafts

o/   - ALL THE DRAFTS! -

1. Bringing together some rough bits for an initial composition to work from

2. Producing a digital render of teh cityscape as a single row of buildings, playing with the contrast of red and white. Introduction of hand-written font. 

3. Simply reversing white and red elements.

4. Working the title into the image

5. Working title into image, but separating the letters as their own forms. 

6. Building up the cityscape with two extra layers at varying shades/opacity's. 

7. Thinking about the themes within the book, how the city is described as coulourless, I decided to try black and grey.

8. Finding that the numerical version of the title didn't produce enough emphasis on the type, I rendered my typeface, with some ammendments recommended by Paul, and played with the layout of the author and title. 

9. Trying black again. 

10. Going back to the original negative cityscape with newer elements.

11. Bringing in the fingerprints. Introducing a more dramatic hierarchy of text and utilising available space for title. 

12.  Introducing quotation and blurb, rendered faces for big brother and Winston to introduce more narrative elements. Editing the title to accommodate for their presence. Continuing to play with red, black and white. 

13. Trying out faces over fingerprints, providing transparent backdrop for blurb.

14. Bring red to the fingerprints, reintroducing the larger title. 

I also played with the idea of working into the finger prints. But decided that though the images are interesting, the identity of the fingerprint is lost. 

It was through peer and tutor feedback that I then worked to the following criteria:
-Loose the faces as they are detailed, they counteract with the idea of anonymity
-Work with the grungey, hand-made ideas across the cover, move forward with the fingerprints.
-Abandon plain skyline as it has no identity- could be attributed to any book. 
-Borrow from the penguin logo palette - dark red is muted by black, combination is overused. 
-Line up cover elements
-Consider making author font 1/2 the size of title, or a certain size related to it. 
-Make blurb more visible by placing on plain white.

I came up with these 3 outcomes to choose from:

I was going to make a physical stencil of the title, but my scalpel broke and I didn't source a new one till' yesterday. Hand in is tomorrow. So I used clipping masks to apply some texture and edited the hue. 
I also remade the finger prints for a less clustered image, using ink instead of watercolour. 

I spoke to a few cohorts and Ben, from their feedback I moved towards my final outcome:
-Prefer the red tint, edit it to make black more visible against it.
-Prefer the prints working from the bottom up
-Fill space by blurb with more prints
-Standardise the size of stencil lines, regardless of the size of the font
-Give texture the title on the spine

I'm pretty darn satisfied with the way that my two typefaces came out, I'm happy with the cover over-all actually. Particularly because I don' think I'd have been able to have produced something to this quality last year. 
I think that my work effectively conveys the themes of the text, as I had them in mind throughout experimentation. The title on the front page uses as much space as possible, replicating the imposing nature of The Party.  The main font is stylistically how I imagined it to be and although my initial intention to produce a stencil didn't work out, the texture I've used seems to work. 
My second typeface is contemporary in style and easy to read. 
Despite the fingerprints being simplistic, I am happy with the amount of ideas they manage to put across; the collection of identity from the party and removal of freedom. They also look like featureless figures and abstractly imitate a cityscape. 

If I had more time on the project, I'd probably think about how to integrate the blurb within the design, maybe finding or creating a font for it which would allow it to fill more space on the back cover. Perhaps introduce colour to the quote also. 

Monday, 27 January 2014

Book cover: Thought process

My design ideas for the cover for 1984 originate with the Christmas homework, and my ideas for creating a typeface.

Scans from sketchbook

I decided to create a stencil based font, something which the party could reproduce with efficiency. I thought that the party would use a typeface which had martial qualities, but was slightly stylised and imperious. This led me to constraining the letters within a certain space and disregarding the practicality of the divisions within the letters.

A digital, standardised version of the font, rendered in photoshop. 

The hand-made ideas of the stencil led to the final composition of the cover. However I had explored a few other ideas before coming to that conclusion.

I found that the cityscape I included in my work for illustrated type was an effective graphic element that I wanted to experiment with.

 (the whole image photo that I have has corrupted, but here's another of part of the image so you have a reference as to what I am talking about)

This left me with a series of ideas from which to start experimenting with:

My initial thoughts were that this would have too many elements and decided to experiment with them separate.

So I produced a stencil during some studio time and used watercolours to try out the effect- not the most ideal medium to stencil with, but they show off the effect quite well.

As you can see, I built up the layers of the cityscape and had a play with working over it. I eventually rendered the negative font here into my hand-made font found on the cover.

I also worked into the buildings with a stencil I produced for the title.

As my stencil was two parts, the cut out cityscape, and the negative space left over, I thought about making a negative image.

I made up a little moc sketch of how this would look across the whole cover:

I don't know what influenced me, probably the textures in the watercolour from the brushes, but not long after I had a light-bulb moment. Where I thought that fingerprints would make a good imitation of a cityscape, while playing on the ideas of identity and collection of information. 

They also look a bit like ambiguous human forms.

I then used photoshop to edit and bring all these elements together.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Book covers: Artist research - Stencils

As part of my experimentation for my book cover for George Orwell's 1984, I'll be looking at exploring the idea of continuing the stencil theme from my typeface homework across the whole cover.

Saul Bass: His movie posters are legendary for their minimalist, symbolic imagery and a bedraggled paper-cut like typeface. 

Matisse: I could take a look at the later work of Matisse for inspiration, which consisted of paper cuts.

Banksy: Maybe I could stencil over a wall like texture? Or maybe even cut into it...

Book Cover Hunting

So we went into Waterstone's yesterday to have a browse at all of the books and take note or pictures of various book covers as part of preparation for coming up with our own designs.

I was watching a video on youtube, which somebody had shared on facebook the other day, which discussed the change in the way movie posters are designed in the modern era, as opposed to those from the 70s and 80s and before those eras.  It was the video-maker's opinion that film posters have lost the qualities that originally made them attractive; where once there were unique, hand drawn/painted/lettered images which stood out from their competitors. Of course there were conventions that remain to this day, but ideas, compositions, layouts and type weren't reused or rehashed as often as they are today, nor on such a large scale across the film industry.

Here's the video if you want to give it a watch:

As I started to look around at the bland, samey images churned out by design companies the same thoughts expressed in the video popped into my head. It seemed far more important for some publishers to express a brand identity, rather than convey the themes expressed in the book, using the same typeface across totally unrelated books, or sticking to a specific pattern on the spine.

 I'm not an avid reader of books, I never was big on pages and pages of black and white as a kid and since moving away from school the only things I read are digital resources and comic books. But it made me think, I wouldn't be intrigued at all torn these over and check out the blurb, how could anyone be attracted to these books?

A prime example of this was Fifty Shades of Grey.

Now I assume that the cover is particularly inconspicuous to protect the valour and respectability of the filthy mothers of Britain and beyond, but it's common knowledge now after the hoards of news surrounding the bloody thing, making that purpose invalid. Somebody might a swell have some fun with it! Would anybody honestly be attracted to that tie on black if it wasn't common knowledge of the contents?
It was probably discovered by some poor bugger looking for advise on how to behave in a business environment. A majority of book covers just make them look like textbooks nowadays.

Anyway, that's my opinion on things... Let's hope publishers start taking a greater interest and see greater value in the creative diversity of proper illustrators and graphic designers in the years to come.

So I had a bit of a job finding stuff that actually caught my eye. Here's what I found:

Apfel Zet:

What a beaut to kick off with. This cover really goes back to the idea that books can (and often throughout history used to) be works of art, this truly is an ornate cover. It's easy to imagine these geometric shapes and patterns produced on a lavish, embossed hardback. Though the colours are fairly muted throughout, I think the complexity of the patterns and the multitude of shades used really makes the cover pop. The only thing I'm not keen on is the scroll in the centre, it just seems out of place to me, perhaps it could do without the black outline, unlike the other elements.

Superfantastic design:

Now, Superfantastic are guilty of a few of my previous negative comments, but their designs for Nick Hornby's novels, which focus on illustrated type are really simple, effective and appealing.

And others which I just found generally appealing:

Alice Tait:

Joe McLaren:

Shepard Fairey:

Coralie Bickford-Smith:

Kazuko Nomoto (Nomoco):

Adam McCauley:

Ed Kluz:

Matthew Phinn:

Johnathan Pelham:

Toby Clark:

Friday, 3 January 2014

Painting Presents

Here's a couple of images I've made for family/friend recently. Little cards like this are generally the only artwork I create outside of coursework at the moment, they provide a nice, brief recreational break.

This was a little card to go along with an Xbox gift voucher code, which only came on a measly receipt, so I thought I'd fancy it up a bit with a festive Master Chief from the Halo series.

His armour became a bit wonky in the translation from pencil to watercolour and then penning, but I think it looks okay! The complexity of the cubic shapes was getting a bit confusing... I think my prominent use of watercolours is definitely helping me to improve with them.

And this one of Tyrion Lannister from the A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones series is a birthday card for my brother. I had bought him a Stark wolf tee and The Hedge Knight Graphic novel, so decided to keep with the theme.

Tyrion is one of my favourite characters and Peter Dinklage is proving to be an awesome actor in the series, I hope this image does his portrayal justice! I decided to have a play with font in this one, inspired a bit by the HBO title and just chucking some serifs on to make it look traditional-ish...

Oh an here is a diplodocus-like dinosaur I picked up from poundland and painted to look like spider-man for my buddy ol' pal Elliot, whom I was jammy enough to get for a course wide secret santa :D