Primary Research

To help me get some inspiration for this project, I took a trip to Waterstones to check out fiction-based book covers. I took pictures of covers that I thought were visually appealing for one reason or another (mostly due to a particular art style or colour scheme), and covers that wrapped entirely around the book in the fashion I want to do mine.


The Chrysalids – Illustrated by Brian Cronin

One of the books that caught my eye was The Chrysalids by John Wyndham, illustrated by Brian Cronin.

This book appealed to me because of its interesting use of a limited colour palette, using only shades of green, pink, white and black in the illustration. It also has an exceptionally pretty typeface for the title of the book and its author. In my opinion, the limited use of colour and simple nature of the design as a whole is very effective. It does not reveal much about the book itself (… minus the six toes on each foot featured on the girl), making it rather mysterious and enticing.
I quite like the wrap of this book – the front cover is bold, while the spine and back cover take on one of the more prevalent greens seen on the front. Usually I would be less than impressed by a cover like this, but the slight trim of the leaves on the back cover is a very nice touch, and ties it together well. If I decide to make a non-wrap-around book cover, I may draw inspiration from this.

As I usually tend to lean towards more intricate, colourful work, it would be interesting to see what I could do with limited resources to replicate a cover like this. It would definitely be a stretch of my abilities, however, it leaves me worried that I may not be able to get my ideas and points across in the most effective way. But perhaps, if that matches the theme of the book, it would be fitting.


Snuff – Illustrated by Paul Kidby

Another book that caught my eye in Waterstones was Snuff by Terry Pratchett. I’m pretty familiar with Pratchett’s works as my Dad is an avid fan of his, and read me a few of his works when I was younger.

One of my favourite things about Pratchett’s books are his covers. I’ve always found them intriguing to look at due to their tasteful colour palettes and bold typefaces. The drawings are absolutely whimsical, and technically flawless when it comes down to proportions and shading. I would love to emulate at least his bold use of colour in my project – perhaps in the Diagon Alley cover?

He also uses adventurous angles in his work – they are very visually appealing, and draw the viewer in. In this piece, the viewer appears to be looking down on the scene from an angle upward and sideways angle, as opposed to a simple angle (e.g. head on). I tend to be very reserved when drawing from unfamiliar angles, so perhaps I should take a leaf from Kidby’s book and experiment with more visually interesting angles and perspectives.


Hogfather – Illustrated by Joe McLaren

Another Pratchett book here – Hogfather, illustrated by an entirely different artist to Snuff. It is also worth noting that this is a cloth hardback cover, giving the art more texture.

I think the visual metaphor of the skull is very effective within this cover. It exudes the feeling of danger, not only within the imagery but within the maroon, bloodish red surrounding the skull. I think the colour scheme matching to the overarching theme of the cover is very clever, as it sets the tone before the reader even opens the book. I would like to use this within my work, as it seems to work very effectively.

This book used the same image on each cover of the book – the front, the back, and the spine. I don’t particularly enjoy this, as it seems rather boring to me. The only thing that’s different is that the image is flipped on the back cover. However, I do like how the typography has been placed on the covers – the title of the book fits nicely into the curvature of the skull, and the blurb hovers precariously above the hanging bombs. While it is simple, the composition of the cover is very effective.


Welcome to Night Vale – Illustrated by Rob Wilson

This book is striking to me due to its very simple geometric designs, gradients, and bold type. The cover wraps around the entirety of the book which, in my opinion, looks rather striking and adds to the aesthetic of the cover. The colour pallet is very simple – black, white, purple, a bit of pink and a burned orange. However, the simple pallet definitely works very effectively and looks absolutely stunning.

The design itself is very intriguing. The illustration does not give away a lot about the book, however, it is very eye-catching and totally drew me in. There is also a strange satisfaction within this cover – all of the crisp, clean-cut lines and gradients are very visually appealing. It appears to be a very polished, well put together book cover.

I would definitely love to incorporate the sense of satisfaction into my work; working with geometric shapes and gradients. I would also love to have some striking typography on my work – the sans-serif font used for the title of the book is absolutely gorgeous!


Additional Noteworthy Covers:

the long way to a small angry planet – Photographed by Christoffer Meyer
Finn Fancy Necromancy – Illustrated by Amazing15
Horror Stories – Illustrated by La Boca
Rush Oh! – Illustrated by Leo Nickolls

Sources Used:

Fink, J. and Cranor, J. (2015). Welcome to Night Vale. 1st ed. Orbit.

Pratchett, T. (1996). Hogfather. 1st ed. Reed.

Pratchett, T. (2012). Snuff. 1st ed. Leicester: Charnwood.

Wyndham, J. and Harrison, M. (1955). The Chrysalids. 1st ed. Toronto: Penguin Books.

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