As I mentioned in my previous posts (here and here), I designed two book covers for a module in University. The first was Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut (1968), which you can see by clicking the links above, and the second was The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino (1997), which I am going to talk about now.
With this one, I knew I wanted to make it look similar to the other one, enough so that they looked part of a set, so I decided to make linocut stamps again.
The thing I liked most about the Cosmicomics book when reading it was that each short story began with and was influenced by a different scientific hypothesis. So, I made a list of different symbols I could use that referenced the sciences in some way:
- Test tube
- Star / Moon / Sun / Planet
- Periodic Table
- Magnifying Glass
And I did a couple of sketches, before deciding on 6 particular symbols that I thought looked good together and would be easily recognisable: a leaf, a star, a test tube, a moon, a lightbulb and an atom. I drew the first (colour) layer onto a piece of lino and got cutting…
I used a purple ink pad to test the stamp as it was the only one I had to hand, but I knew I wanted to use blue for the final one as it felt more relevant to the book and reminded me of space/night-time.
It looked as I wanted it so I cut out the outlines separately and I borrowed a blue ink pad to see how it looked:
I wasn’t sure if the blue was too dark but then I wanted it to represent space and night-time so I went with it. I stamped a page in a similar way to the Vonnegut cover, with it looking like it fades out at the top (partly for visual appeal, partly to give me somewhere to write the title).
I made a Photoshop document the correct size of the front cover (5×8″) and played about with the size and placement of my design. I thought the smaller symbols looked better because although it meant there were more of them in the space, it seemed more subtle than the bigger symbols.
I scanned in the type I’d drawn…
…and chose the ones I thought worked the best. I altered the colour and placed them on top of my design, moving them around to see what worked.
Although I quite liked the middle one above, I still felt it needed a little refinement. I think I was trying too hard to make it look similar to the previous cover and decided to see what it would look like if I focussed on one section of the stamped pattern instead. I think it looks much more sophisticated:
I adjusted the colours of the type as you can see above, and felt the second one reflects the colours in the stamped image a lot better. I added a spine and decided to see what different types looked like for the author’s name.
The first one I used looked a bit too bold and in-your-face so I used one that looked similar to the title font instead and it just looked too similar and didn’t really work. Also, I couldn’t decide whether to use the full title or use some artistic licence and just call it ‘Cosmicomics’. Although it was easier to make it look good without the extra words, I didn’t like the idea of not using the proper title.
I really like hand-lettering and didn’t really want to use a digital typeface but I decided to give it a go and see if I could come up with a design that looked a bit more polished.
This is what I came up with and I think it looks much better, I also decided the whole title would be ok to use without it looking bad. I added a synopsis and barcode to the back cover and decided to use another section of the stamped page as a sort of banner across the back to make it more interesting and break the page up a bit.
I adjusted the type on the spine a bit and I think it looks much more sophisticated that it would have if I’d gone with the fully stamped background. Here is the final result:
Thanks for reading!