Developing Sketches

After deciding to develop my sketches further on Photoshop, I experimented with angles and perspectives at which to present my piece. I drew inspiration from all of my thumbnails and sketches – namely the middle right thumbnail as that was my favourite of the batch. All of the lines are drawn in red against the black book guidelines.

cover 1

This piece has a high horizon line and vanishing points right at the edge of the page. This means that this appears to be a very aerial view, which is too far away to really hold much detail. This would not be a very effective piece to use.

cover 2

This piece has a slightly lower horizon line, with one vanishing point a quarter of the way across the line, and the other vanishing point going off the page. This too is an aerial perspective, and while I think it looks better than the first one, it is still far from being something I want to work with. I added some colour and buildings to this one to try and bring it to life a bit, but the angle just didn’t seem right to me.

cover 3

This piece has a much lower horizon line, giving the appearance of looking up at the globe. I think this angle is much more appealing, however, the vanishing points do not hit the edges of the pages, and I think it might look more effective if they did. Additionally, the globe looks too small, perhaps some of the top should be cut off to further emphasise how big it is; too big to fit on the page.

cover 4

In this piece, the horizon line has been raised slightly higher than the previous version, and the vanishing points are on the edges of each page. I have also made the Globe significantly larger, so that it appears to be as big as I imagine it would be. This is my favourite development of the lot, so I have decided to take this further and build my whole scene around it. This basic outline will serve as a great base to work around.


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 mostly 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 two 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 guide in my sketchbook which was roughly proportioned correctly. 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.

scan-0001 (1).jpg

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.

cover measurements.png

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.

scan-0001scan-0001 (1)scan-0001 (2)

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

Sources Used:

Cline, E. (2012). Ready Player One. 1st ed. Arrow Books, pp.182, 183.

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 fanart. Therefore, the outcomes I produce from pulling 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.

Text Analysis: Diagon Alley

Before I even think about sketching out ideas for my landscapes, I need to take a piece of text describing each place and annotate it.

Below is my analysis of Diagon Alley, as described in Chapter 5 of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. A key for the highlights can be found at the bottom of the page. The colours alternate between blue and pink to break up the block of text, making each point easier to read.


So, what are the main points of interest I got from the text?

  • Everything that blatantly described a piece of the scenery was highlighted and underlined in green – all or most of this description should be included in the final piece:
    • The wall to get into Diagon Alley is enchanted – why not other buildings?
    • The street is cobblestone – it twists and turns “out of sight”
    • The sun is shining
    • Should be a packed high street – maybe the art should be without people to let the focus be on the shops?
    • Should be at least 9 shops (including Gringotts) according to the information given – more can be added though. There should be:
      • A couldron shop
      • An apothecary
      • Eeylop’s Owl Emporium
      • A broomstick shop (with Nimbus 2000 in the window)
      • A shop selling robes
      • A shop selling telescopes and “strange silver instruments Harry had never seen before”
      • Shops stacked with windows of bat spleens and eel eyes
      • A shop with tottering piles of spell books, quills, rolls of parchment, potion bottles, globes of the moon
      • Gringotts
    • Gringotts outshines the other buildings in grandeur, size, and pretty much every other aspect
    • The other buildings should be smaller than Gringotts, but perhaps still relatively tall. 2/3 stories each, and possible old/bend/wisened with age
  • The alley is grand, amazing, stunning, enchanting, whimsical
  • It is also very homey, whithered and worn down, but not in a bad way (except for Gringotts, which is pristine and white and not at all worn down)
  • The shops have things outside of them too, which could make the street that much more narrow – perhaps outdoor goods/stands/seating areas?
  • The alley seems as though it would be full of odds and ends, interesting little details would be good to include

What are my initial thoughts on how to compose this piece?

  • The text follows Harry and Hagrid on their walk through Diagon Alley – I would like to show the path they walked from the archway to Gringotts, from the perspective of when they first stepped through the arch
    • As I intend to make it a wide-scale piece, I don’t intend to include the archway itself – just they alley. The arch would take up too much room where other integral details could be! Perhaps it can be suggested on the very edges of the peice
  • I would like to use a variety of interesting mediums in this piece because there are so many layers to it!
  • Maybe it could be created on Photoshop, and layered over with different textures I can create. Almost a Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends vibe?
  • Alternatively it could be a good piece to practise a mixture of collaging and painting, and then refining and adding more detail on Photoshop
  • A good place to start would be to study and practise 1/2/3 point perspective, and chose the most applicable to start mapping out where everything will sit in the scene

A Change of Plan

When I set out to start this project, I thought that it would be nice to illustrate places from books I’ve never read before, so that the pieces I create are in no way, shape, or form accidentally influenced by other pieces of art, films, etc surrounding the book. However, after some thought and discussion with my peers I have decided to narrow down the amount of final pieces I create, and that the books I create them for will only be books that I am familiar with.

What kick-started this idea was when thinking about how many pieces I could create. Pushing myself to create too many will definitely mean the quality of my work will suffer, and the outcomes will not be as polished, refined, and detailed as they could be. With the time given, I think I can create at least 3 solid outcomes which can hold a lot of detail, have a solid level of refinement and reworking, and will leave me enough time to rework areas entirely in case of any problems or mistakes that may arise. By nature I am a very clumsy person, so allowing myself the breathing space to correct mistakes is definitely something I need to do.

The 3 places I am definitely going to attempt to create are Diagon Alley from Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, The Distracted Globe from Ready Player One, and Hobbiton from Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. These are all fictional destinations I am familiar with, and franchises that I know and love. This means that I understand the vibe and ins and outs of each book, so I can set each scene accordingly to not only the given text itself, but of the rest of the book too. This also gives me the opportunity to include little Easter Eggs in the artwork; paying homage to a running joke, theme, object, etc within the books. This is not only something which I find exciting in other peoples’ work, but it is a huge overarching theme of Ready Player One, in which the entire storyline is based around solving puzzles about 80’s pop culture to unlock the Easter Egg hidden within the OASIS.

If I wind up with more time on my hands than I originally expected, I may attempt to create other smaller pieces dedicated to other books. However, for the time being my main goal is to create the 3 pieces of artwork for Harry Potter, Ready Player One, and Lord of the Rings.