Designing a Book Cover: The Mock-Ups

Welcome to week 3 of Ashley Ruggirello’s guest post series. For those of you who’ve been following along, feel free to jump down to the chapter header. You’ve read all this intro stuff before.

For those just joining us, I’ve teamed up with Ashley, Creative Director and Founder of REUTS Publications, to bring you a series about cover design. (And by “teamed up”, I really mean asked permission to syndicate her work. ;) ) I know nothing about cover design, so why not defer to an expert like Ashley? Because that’s what she is. Not only is she the creative genius behind all of REUTS, she’s also the owner of freelance design company, Cardboard Monet. I’ve had the privilege of watching her talent in action, so I’m extremely thrilled that one of her brilliant designs will be featured on my work.

That’s right, not only will she being giving you inspired insight into the design process, she’s using my nemesis WIP, Unmoving, as the example cover. No, that doesn’t mean I finally managed to finish the darn thing. But after this, I’m certainly feeling inspired to!  So stick around. At the end of the series, I’ll reveal the big announcement I’ve had up my sleeve. If you’re a fan of my work, you definitely won’t want to miss it!

Alright, Ashley. You’re up!
 

Chapter 3: Mocking Up the Mock-Ups

 

By Ashley Ruggirello

 
I’m going to preface this week’s post by saying the inspiration fairy is an interesting critter who sometimes decides to hide away at the most inopportune times. In the case of this week’s post, I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to get it done in time. Even with a couple different ideas swimming around my head, I still couldn’t get all the other elements to line up: images, styles, fonts, etc. That’s the thing with design, it’s never really reliable. Who knows when inspiration will strike, and when a design will actually come together.

Thankfully, I was able to request a little bit of Kisa’s aid before I restarted my designs. Browsing GoodReads.com, Kisa wrangled together a handful (or two) of already published cover art she felt (in one way or another) captured the Unmoving vibe. I don’t think these mock-ups would have come to be in time had it not been for her hasty help.

Last week, I mentioned discussing how to acquire permission to use stock from artists/photographers, however I’m going to hold off on that until Kisa has finalized a direction, and I know officially what images will be in use. So, without any further ado, this week’s post:
 

Mock-Up #1

 
In addition to using Kisa’s cover selections, I happened to stumble upon my own, which triggered a (small) bout of inspiration.

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Teeth, by Hannah Moskowitz

 

The grayscale, the slight use of color, the simplicity; this helped with my direction. Given the stock photo collection we gathered, maybe this is a direction I can pursue, I thought. (I think to myself a lot. Sometimes I think it keeps me sane.) I coupled the Teeth book cover with two Kisa provided as additional inspiration:
 
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When the World Was Flat, by Ingrid Jonach

 

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Thin Space, by Jody Casella

 

I knew upon seeing these two in addition to Teeth, that I could come up with something. And thus began mock-up number one–
 
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A simple, grayscale park bench blurred in the background, with Karma’s necklace dangling off the page to the right (I’m a huge fan of making things extend off the page). Clean and crisp. At this point, I’m hoping Kisa likes something about it. As with any critique, honesty is the best policy. Never feel as if you’re hurting your designer’s feelings by not liking something.

(Please Note: Kisa’s feedback will be incorporated into next week’s post, as we continue to refine a direction, or completely scrap both options. Each new iteration will be coupled with the feedback.)
 

Mock-Up #2

 

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Hunger, by Jackie Morse Kessler

 

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Shadows, by Robin McKinley

 
Which led me to the second mock-up:
 
Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 10.06.27 PM
 
More fantasy, more colors, more movement. More of a full bench as the focal point, along with a light orb texture to tie in the fantasy elements of Kisa’s story. The filigree is meant to look blurred/in motion to add to the suspense/distress in the story.

So, there you have it: the first two initial mock-ups. They’ve been sent to Kisa, and will be modified based on her feedback. (Who knows, if she hates them both, we’ll have to evolve one of the other ideas backstroking in my mind into a cover.) Once a direction is determined, I’ll go through the step-by-step process I actually took to create the final cover.

In the meantime, what do you think? How well did I translate Kisa’s info-dump from last week into these two designs? Let us know in the comments!

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