There are many things about this project that I am happy about. Firstly – as I’ve never designed a book cover before I definitely feel that I’ve learned a lot from this. I learned a lot about how to use typography and design together in ways that were still aesthetically pleasing. I never usually work with so much text so it was a huge challenge for me. I broached concepts and subjects in my drawings that I don’t usually attempt – it was refreshing to illustrate a concept that was so deep and meaningful where usually my work is mostly decorative. There were also so many new techniques and textures that were a challenge for me to master using graphite. I felt like I pushed myself with my drawings a lot. I’m more considerate now of how I treat my drawings too – usually I draw on any old scraps of paper but this time I was deliberate and careful of what I was drawing on and the specific sizes (although it was of no consequence to the finished book cover.)
I learned a little more about using Photoshop – I’m now confident about using bleed and making my own templates from scratch using guides. I also learned more about using my camera and the best way to take clear and beautiful photos of my work. One of the things that I’ve always struggled with was the finishing touches of a final piece – I might make a really good piece but the presentation online and physically let it down. I’m now more considerate about how I present it physically and in photos online – I think it’s just as important and needs as much thought put into it as the piece. There’s no sense in spending hours on a piece only to photograph it badly.
The design itself I think is pretty unusual for this book, and I think I’ve touched on a lot of aspects of the book that are often neglected by illustrators. I feel that what I’ve achieved is truer to Burgess’ vision and also taps into the author a little bit too – as he was a composer and lover of classical music too, like Alex. Even the colour scheme reflects the motifs of the book – the white hospitals and lab coats contrasting to the darkness of the streets that Alex and his Droogs roamed down. There’s many examples of black and white contrast in the novel. I also actually like the little hints of orange from the penguin logos – it relates a little to the title but is still really subtle. I did stray from the penguin brief a bit – by changing the template, removing some lettering and adding a reverse cover – but I decided that as I wasn’t going to enter the competition I could design something a bit more beautiful instead.
If I had a little more time, I would have liked to have tried out some techniques such as embossing or spot gloss on the cover to really make it pop. I don’t think that it really needed that much done to it though, as the strength was in the design and not really the print finishing.
Overall I am really proud of this book cover, and I think I have learned enough from this project to take on some book cover commissions from clients. I think it will be a good addition to my portfolio as a book cover is something that was definitely missing. I feel like the more projects I take on that I haven’t done before, the more versatile it makes me as an illustrator.
I had the book cover printed at my local printers. I chose a satin, matte paper that was quite thick but thin enough to fold. They cut the cover for me, so all I had to do was fold the edges using a bone folder and a ruler. This took about 5 minutes and I was surprised about how easy it was to do.
Initially I set up two lamps and my photography box with a white background for the photos. I set my camera on a tripod to make sure the photos were steady and consistent.
I wasn’t happy with the first photos I took. The creased background wasn’t an issue, because I can use photoshop to blur it. The problem was the light source. My lamps are not really right for this kind of thing, I really should invest in some better bulbs that are brighter. My lamps are just ordinary bulbs which have a yellow-ish tone.
I moved my photography box over to a window and tested out what the photos would look like with natural lighting – it looked 100x better.
I remembered that I had a spare violin case in my room so I decided to try out placing the book inside it to see if that made the photos a bit more interesting and relevant to the theme.
I set up the case and book by a window for natural lighting.
I took some shots of the book’s covers to show the overall designs, and also some closeup shots to show some of the detail better. I used a macro lens on my camera to achieve the closeup images.
I didn’t really like the brightness of the blue case as I felt it took too much attention away from the book cover.
I altered the saturation and brightness of the photos. I used the exact same settings for every photo to maintain consistency.
One of my final images.
I am really pleased with how my photos turned out, and I think using natural lighting was a good idea – both cost effective and the best results. I’m also pleased with the use of the violin case as a prop – I think it makes the images a bit more interesting than the flat white background I was going to use before. Changing the saturation was a massive help because the blue was far too bright and jarring. Now the colours match the sombre tones of the cover.
During the critique, my tutors mentioned to me that I should use a handwritten font instead.
Looking at Beethoven’s writing, I practised a calligraphy style of writing. My own handwriting is really messy so I did struggle trying to change it significantly to look more readable and aesthetically pleasing.
I also practised using a calligraphy/fountain pen and dipping ink. This was incredibly difficult for me and it will take me a long time to master using it.
I tried out a more medieval, blackletter style because I found this easier to do neatly with the pen. However, it wasn’t the right time period for Beethoven and not at all what his own handwriting resembled.
Eventually I created these pages which were the strongest and neatest examples of writing.
I tried out the new typography on the cover and I much prefer it. The handwritten style looks so much more authentic then the other typeface I was using that looked too perfect to be real handwriting.
I also added the new blurb to the back as well. It looks much better than the last text, and more like one of Beethoven’s handwritten sheets too.
I felt that the messiness was a bit too much (it was where I hadn’t cleaned up the scanned image, and I left it in because I thought it might look really great with the drawings.) I cleaned up the writing which I felt did look better, but it was now missing some of the personality/character that it had.
I added some splodges and smudges back in which looks better. It gives it that authentic, handwritten feel. It matches the handdrawn quality of the drawings on the cover as well. It also makes the writing feel like it was written quickly and chaotically – a visual representation of Beethoven’s genius and frantic way of working. It has a sense of violence to it as well – more subtle than the book but it’s still there nonetheless. A novel like A clockwork Orange shouldn’t have ‘pretty’ elements to the design – including the writing. The book is masculine and bold – which I feel that the drawings and writing here portray really well.
My finished typographic instrument drawings. Each one took between 1-2 hours to complete and are A6 size.
Each letter on the line is the same size roughly as each other. I had to alter the dimensions a little so they would fit. Using the grid on photoshop made this a lot easier.
I love how these turned out and they may well be some of my favourite drawings. A few people have suggested that I could create the whole alphabet which I definitely want to do when I have some free time.
I came up with an idea to integrate the text into the back cover using music sheets. I decided to try and fit the blurb into the staves of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. I could also fit the Beethoven portrait into one of the sheets.
I scanned in some rough overlapping rectangles as a guide for the sheet placement.
I then scanned in separate pieces of paper in different states of disarray – turning over the corner, scrunching up the paper, etc for some texture.
Using the guide I scanned in, I layered the different pieces of paper on top of each other.
I decided to make the pages stand out more by altering the levels. It made the pages pop and the shadows deepen.
I then experimented with different ways of adding the sheet music and text. I added in some mistakes to make the sheet music look like one of Beethoven’s hand drawn sheets.
In the end I decided that I didn’t like how this looked at all – so I added in some of Beethoven’s actual sheets in the background, and kept the blurb as a blank page. This made it much more readable.
I also decided to change the front cover’s dimensions. Using another hardback book cover as a template, I added flaps and made the cover bigger to show the detail more clearly. I also decided that as I am not entering the competition anymore, I don’t need to include all of the text – it was taking away the focus from the drawings and didn’t look right.
I also came up with another pattern using the instruments I drew.
I added this pattern to the cover flaps which I think works really well. It will add another dimension to the cover and overall makes the whole cover tie together – making sure that every piece of the design has been considered and well thought out.
For the reverse of the cover – I took the same pattern but inverted it. I wanted it to be different to the rest of the cover, so that there would be a point in having a reverse cover.
I knew that one of the weaknesses of the cover design was the typography. I felt that the typefaces I was choosing didn’t match the artwork and also didn’t fit in with the concepts I was exploring either.
I had a bit of a random brain wave and decided to see if I could find any examples of what Beethoven’s handwriting looked like.
His handwriting was what one would expect from the time period: scrawling, cursive, calligraphy style.
I also found a few different manuscripts and musical scores that Beethoven had handwritten. He had a very haphazard way of recording his music, which I suppose is a visual manifestation of his genius.
I found a few handwritten fonts and started with trying out the author’s name – seeing as Beethoven and Burgess contain the same initial.
I managed to narrow down my choices to these five.
I typed up the blurb in the different typefaces to check the readability, and whether the style of writing really looked like Beethoven’s.
I picked this final one in the end because it was the most readable of all the typefaces. As much as style is an important factor, the blurb and all information on the book needs to be clear and readable.
I like the roughness of the font, because it reminds me of Beethoven’s scratchy, scrawled writing. It’s very bold and dark which will make it stand out more on the book and also makes it easier to read.
I also tried out the different typefaces on the front cover. Although most of them look nice, I still think that the typeface I chose works the best on the front cover too.
I decided that I wanted to try out some book cover ideas because I wanted to be a little clearer about the design.
The information from the Penguin Design Awards states what needs to be on the cover. I also found the book template which makes things a lot easier for me, because I’ve never designed a cover before.
The Penguin Information has to remain in tact so I needed to figure out how to design around it. I added guides in Photoshop so that I definitely wouldn’t put any important information outside of that.
I really like this layout, but I need to make the text more interesting. I’m not keen on the font choice, but I was just using it as a placeholder. The instruments have a good sense of movement which makes the back cover look dynamic when juxtaposed against the more stationary front title. Mainly I want to keep the cover simple because the drawings speak for themselves.
I was trying to work out a way to incorporate the portrait of Beethoven. The portrait really needs to go on a white background as it looks pretty odd on a black one:
However, I need to work on the layout some more, because the typography needs to be more dynamic.
My tutor suggested that I could play around with the idea of a reverse cover, because I have a lot of drawings that I could put to good use. I created a very simple and dynamic pattern similar to the one I made on the white background.
I think this layout works a lot better than the first one, as it’s interesting, the typography seems to be working better and doesn’t look cluttered. The concept and the drawings are the main focus and can be seen easily without the typography getting in the way.