Penguin – Designing some book covers

After some extensive research on book covers and the themes of the book, it was time to start designing a cover for Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. Through my research I had uncovered quite a few angles that I wanted to focus on, so I made the decision to design two covers for this project and decide on which one I wanted to go forward with.

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One of the first ideas I had revolved around the impact that the murders had on the town. The Clutter’s were incredibly well respected in the community and their deaths came at a huge shock to everyone. I experimented on ways to try and visualise this unlikely event through a multitude of visual solutions but the idea just wasn’t clicking.

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I then decided to focus on a different idea, which looked at the role Capote has as the author. The fact that the murders, and his relationship with killers had so much of an effect on him was one of the most fascinating aspects of the whole tale. I wanted to try and visualise not only his powerful role as the story-teller, but also the slow decay into sorrow that the events caused him. To do this I tried to create a visual that was striking and bold, but at the same time gave an idea of what the tale was about.

The final product is fairly flawed, however it is only an initial draft. I think that the visual effect of Capote is very eye-catching and strong, while having him grow out of the house hints at the idea behind the concept. Although, after a useful group tutorial with Anna Bhushan, it became apparent that I was trying to accomplish too much with the graphic.

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Typographically the cover is a lot stronger and I think I was successful in creating a good visual hierarchy. In order to improve the design I am going to have to re-visit the graphical element and try to simplify it by focusing on either the house or Capote. However, I am still proud of the descending effect so even if I don’t use this cover design, I will definitely experiment with the technique.

The second concept is in my opinion, and in the opinions of my peers, the strongest. The concept focuses on visually representing the two killers as snakes. Not only are snakes dangerous, deadly and hidden in plain sight, just as the murderers were, but they are also cold-blooded. Another correlation that was brought to my attention in the group tutorial was that one of the killers has a large tattoo of a snake, which was another strong connection to the story.

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The final design uses a more classical type that is a better representation of the times, and features the snakes intertwined within the type and each other. This visual effect represents close and disturbing relationship of the killers and their significance in the story. I also wanted to add a bit of violence to the front cover and make it seem more gruesome and obscure, so I created an strange portal effect that removed the heads of the snakes and placed it on the bottom of the page. The red circle is supposed to vaguely represent a pool of blood, but I still think that some more work is needed to polish it off.

After some more deliberation I decided to add in a dark paper background to bring the elements together. The snakes were taken from a picture of an old science journal so they blend in nicely, plus the dirty effect adds to the dark and disturbing nature of the cover design.

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I am fairly pleased with the covers I have designed for this project. In the end I have decided to focus on the second concept as I think it is a more unique and visually interesting approach to the brief. The final review will hopefully give me some better insight on how to improve them and I look forward to seeing what the feedback is.

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