Thumbnails and Sketches

I am very new to the concept of book cover design, so using my measurements I started roughing out the proportions of the cover and sketching out some ideas of how to lay out the cover. I knew that I wanted the Distracted Globe and the intersection to feature on the front cover of the book as they are focal points of the piece of text I chose, so I stuck to that idea and built others around it.

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After spending about 2 minutes on each of the thumbnails above, I used the template I created to develop the middle-right image.

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Presentation of my Piece

My copy of Ready Player One is a paperback. This presents a problem, as the book cover I am designing is intended to be primarily a dust cover for a hardback. I really don’t want to destroy a book in order to present my final piece (by gluing a print of my cover and sticking it over another), so I have decided to simply print out my cover and wrap it around one of the hardback books I own.

Going down this route makes it very easy for me to know my measurements and proportions for my final piece. I have decided to use my personal copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s stone for display purposes, and replace its own dust jacket with the one I create. I chose this book in particular because the book is of a similar length to Ready Player One, and the proportions of the cover are simple and easy to work with (they are integers, so I won’t be fiddling around with decimals).

The size of the entire dust cover laid out is 57cm x 23.5cm (length x width). This is then split into five different sections to cover the book – the wrapping pieces at the edges that hold the cover in place, the front and back covers, and the spine. The proportions of these pieces are as follows:

  • Right Wrap: 11cm x 23.5cm
  • Back Cover: 16cm x 23.5cm
  • Spine: 3cm x 23.5cm
  • Front Cover: 16cm x 23.5cm
  • Left Wrap: 11cm x 23.5cm

Being a visual learner that finds things easier to understand in a diagram, I roughly wrote and drew this all out so that it’s easier for me to understand. It might not make sense to other people, but it’s notation that I know and understand, and can work with easily.


(W= Wrap, C = Cover, S = Spine – all measurements are in centimetres.)

With this I created a rough guide in my sketchbook which was roughly proportioned correctly, but not quite. I used one side of the page to experiment on, before deciding that it would be more worthwhile to create a correctly proportioned template and use that instead.

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I then took this knowledge to photoshop, creating a template 2 times bigger than the actual measurements so things can be scaled down without losing quality, and definitely be in proportion. I then set out the measurements visually and in text, so I can use it as a guide for creating my final piece. The spine is in purple, the covers in pink, and the wraps in orange.

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This will really aid my project as I can take the template I have created and print it to use as a template for my sketches and experiments. To make the template to draw on I simply removed the coloured backgrounds and the text, and added a border to make this:

cover measurements template

I can use this both for sketching on as a print, or digitally as a guideline. When printed it will be on A4, so it won’t be entirely to scale but it will be in proportion, which is a very valuable resource for me to use.


Text Analysis: The Distracted Globe

After my talk with Jake, I went ahead and printed out an extract from Ready Player One – the description of The Distracted Globe. There were less literary techniques used by Cline than Rowling, but he did include a whole load of blatant description, which I highlighted in green.

Shown below are scans of the three pages, fully annotated and highlighted. There is a key depicting what colour of highlight means what on the bottom of the third page, alongside a bullet point list of some of the key points I found in the text.

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After re-reading the text about 5 times, I have a rough idea of how I would like to portray this piece of text. All of my key information is bullet pointed on the third page, ready to be quickly referenced as I begin some idea generation techniques.

Some of my ideas for this piece include:

  • Using one point perspective to create the landscape, as it is a very densely populated urban area filled with skyscrapers and cars
  • Fiddling with the opacity of the globe itself; it’s the centrepiece of the text, so it may look effective being a completely opaque cobalt blue sphere, or a more transparent blue sphere showing all of the people inside of it
  • Sketching out the initial ideas on paper, and when curating the final book cover taking to photoshop to bring all of the mixed media elements together

Another Change of Plan

Today, I had a meeting with my pathway leader Jake to discuss my project. I explained all of my ideas, solved problems, and progress to him and asked for some feedback on what I could do next. He suggested to me that I don’t try and do covers for 3 books, but that I just do a cover for Ready Player One.

This would mean that I can focus all of my energy into one book, and the outcome of the covers would be entirely from my own mind. The two other books I was planning on making covers for (Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter) are hugely popular all around the world, and already have movies made about every single book. Having read all the books and seen all of the movies, my own depictions of the places in the books would be influenced – by accident or purposefully – by the movie sets.

However, Ready Player One is currently being made into a motion picture, set to release in 2017. This means that the places I am going to be drawing don’t exist in a movie set yet – the only other depictions of them are fan art. Therefore, the outcomes I produce from puling apart the text will be almost entirely my own. This means my work will be much more original to me, it will challenge me more in the process of designing the places, and I can complete one very high-quality book cover instead of 3 potentially rushed ones.

Water-Based Pen Experiment

As somebody who works with watercolours often, I am comfortable with how they work and how I can use them to create an effect I want. However, I wanted to see if I could create a new effect with a rather unorthodox idea: blending out water-based pens with some water and a brush.

The thought process I had behind this was that my Copic markers (an alcohol-based marker) are unaffected by water and blend easily with each other because of the alcohol base, while my Crayola washable markers (a water-based marker) do not blend well with each other. This got me thinking, as you can dilute the colour from Copics with alcohol (they have a “blender” pen which is just alcohol with no pigment and it practically erases the ink), shouldn’t you be able to dilute the colour from the Crayola markers with water?

To begin my experiment I selected my first set of colours. I chose purple, pink, red, and blue to create something I am very comfortable with painting – a galaxy. I then roughed out where I wanted the colours to be by laying down lines of colour in a way I thought would look nice when blended out. After that, I took a cup of water and a paint brush, dipped the brush into the water, and began blending. I waited for the first layer to dry, drew on some more lines of colour, and repeated this until I was happy with the outcome.


These were the outcomes I got after adding details with a gel pen and more markers, with my thoughts beneath each one.

I think the top two pieces look the best – the spaces left between the marker lines made for good gaps between colour, adding depth to the galaxies. However, I wasn’t happy with the amount of depth the markers produced. It was difficult to blend them without the water eating up my paper, but if I didn’t blend enough it left harsh lines from the pen. This can definitely be put down to me using paper that wasn’t intended for watercolour and for using pens which weren’t meant to be used as watercolour paints.

To conclude, these experimental pieces are not quite what I was looking for to use in my project. Using markers instead of paints was interesting to see, but was really more of a chore than anything. I had limited colour choice, a hard time blending out harsh lines, and less control over where colour went once it was dampened. In future, it would be easier to just stick to watercolour paints.

Wreaths and Banners

After creating a type face, I decided that I needed something to contain the words instead of having them floating in space. While floating text can be made to look effective, I enjoy how wreaths, banners, and speech bubbles can further contextualise what the words mean.


I first designed various banners, making them fold and bend around each other to allow space for more words or for a different effect. I thought these looked really effective, so I added shading and trims and dots to make them more unique. The banners with multiple writing spots can be used for sentences, or even 2/3 words separated onto each part to make a statement. I will definitely use this in one of my project pieces.

After the banners I added wreaths of varying sizes to the empty spots, trying different ways of laying out leaves, adding more vines, adding flowers, adding berries, etc. I think the more organic shapes look brilliant, while the more structured ones look less visually appealing. If I can find a way to use a wreath in my final I will, as myself and my peers both think they look stunning.


I was thinking about creating a comic for my final piece, so decided to see how I could express different emotions and feelings through speech bubbles. I annotated them with ideas of what said emotions could be and coloured them with proposed colours. I really like the “getting angry” bubble as it is full of motion and I think it does a great job at representing somebody getting angry. I also think the “thoughts/unsure” bubble is nice as it is very minimalist, but gets the point across.