There are many different topics that could be covered when talking about cover design with books: cover changes, the designers of covers, the tropes of covers, etc., but I would like to talk about how covers are designed in general.
As someone who studied Illustration in university and who loves drawing, I am always interested in seeing how professional designers go about finding the perfect illustration for a cover.
Personally I have only ever worked with self-published authors and so I have always worked on a one-to-one basis with the author to create something that fits the book as well as their ideas about what the cover should look like. This has it’s advantages, such as the freedom to suggest ideas and more flexible deadlines, but working with a publisher on a book is what I am aiming for. I am currently working on a self-published book cover at the moment and that will be released pretty soon but sometimes I just do a little research to see what other designers and illustrators look at when they’re creating a cover design.
This blog post by Chad Beckerman illustrates the process that the designer undergoes when trying to fit the perfect cover to a book and it has been a great inspiration for me whilst designing for my project. Knowing that designers can sometimes find it difficult to come up with a solid idea without the help of an outsourced illustrator is always encouraging as it shows how matching a book with its perfect cover it not always easy.
Even though I have never read the book that Beckerman discusses, looking at the process that the chosen illustrator went through when drawing and eventually painting the cover illustration is a real inspiration. The artist, Vince Natale was a brilliant choice in my opinion and the blog post really made me interested in looking up more of his work. I won’t include any more of his work in this post because I really think that you should check out his website for yourself.
Vince’s hyper-realistic way of drawing/painting portraits paired with the fantasy element that seems to seep into a lot of his illustrations is something that is really appealing when looking at his cover designs. Especially in the cover for Otherbound, the composition really draws you into the image and you can already guess what the book is about based on the cover, or at least some of the story aspects such as the two people from different backgrounds and an idea of darkness that is present in the image.
Overall I think that all cover designers will always take a slightly different approach but it is really interesting, as a lover of books and an illustrator, to look at the processes involved in choosing the best cover for the novel. It makes you look at the books on your shelves, the covers you hate and the covers you love in a different way, making you think about WHY the decision was made, because no matter how much we readers deny it, we do judge books by their covers a lot of the time and a good cover can ultimately make you pick up a book without knowing anything about it.