Cover Design

This week we had a look at cover design. Becky informed us that to get the cover design that everyone wanted, it takes a lot of time. Sometimes, it can take ages for editor, design, production and author to agree on a design of the book cover. A the end of the day, the designer gets last say on whether the proposed idea is good enough or how to change it. It is part of the designer’s job to get illustrators and to IMAG0823_1_1make sure the brief is easy enough to understand. Somewhere where people show their illustrations is the website Here you can look through people’s illustrations, request portfolios and submit pieces of work to be seen.

Becky showed us her work on “I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith. We can see the multiple versions that this book went through. All similar but all different. The Great Gatsby was the influence for this book. It took many, many changes and tweaks before the final edition of the book was agreed on.


After this we discussed cover grids. This is done using InDesign. You start with the measurements of the book needed, add a 5mm bleed around the entire book. It is easier to do any illustration changes andScreen Shot 2015-05-11 at 09.42.48 assembly in Photoshop. The publishing house will give you the dimensions needed but you must stick to them. In Photoshop, you need to include the bleed into your page dimensions so that when you put it into InDesign it fills out to the bleed line. This is so the colour is continuous to the very edge of the book cover, allowing for any extra paper the cutter might put on. Similarly, this is why we need to make sure that nothing important is near the edge of the cover as this could be cut off if the cutter is slightly off. The image shown is one for a picture book.

From this you need to add in grids. These are just the edge of the cover (without bleed), the spines and (if a hardback) the flaps. Wherever the cover is to fold, you have to add fold marks. These are just little straight lines of dots that you place on the grid lines (N.B: Grid lines do not appear on the exported and printed version of the cover but fold marks do).

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 10.00.33Once all this is done, then you can get to the fun part of designing the cover.




Design and Production

IMAG0731_1_1So today we were introduced to our Design and Production lecturer, Becky Chilcott. She is a freelance book designer and her most famous work includes Jacqueline Wilson and the new Harry Potter covers. Her work is scattered throughout every genre of book and every publisher. To have her as a lecturer is a great privilege and pleasure.


Our first lecture covered the basics of design and production. No, you don’t have to be a good illustrator to be a good designer, just have imagination. Becky gave us a blurb of books, some we knew, some we didn’t and then showed us the cover and this was seeing if we thought the cover reflected the story or not. The new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory cover has caused a divide in opinion and it certainly did this in the class. Whilst discussing it, we said the cover didn’t tell you anything about the book and took away from the brilliant union of Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake.

A few other blurbs were shown as well as their covers and then we were shown what brief the designer gives to the illustrator. It has to be open enough for creative freedom but closed enough that you get what you want from the illustrator and so it ties into the book. Most illustrators and many designers don’t actually read the book before hand so the brief is really important to get the tone of the cover right.

Following this, we saw how many changes a cover goes through before the publishers all agree on one. Becky literally creates a hundred different versions of the same thing but slightly tweaked until everyone is happy.

Seeing the amount of work that goes into the design of a cover really brought home how much time goes into one book. It gave me a greater appreciation for traditionally published work. I shall be adding a glossary page to this blog for all the new words I shall be learning in this module so check it out.