Assignment Five: Book Design revisited

You could have followed the horizontal thirds format inside and used a vertical 6 column grid.’ Tutor Feedback

Continuing addressing the issue form my last assignments feedback the next area to address was how I’d arranged my text on the book pages. Retrospectively they seemed okay, but lacked verve. And looking at the vertical six column arrangement I went to further consider my options.

I played around with the original format to see how may variations I could generate before settling on the one that I felt visually comfortable with.

The final format sees the two points of interest move to the top, the heavy yellow boxes replaced by a lighter yellow border and the text box centred within this with the main text body formed below by two drop down columns. This seems to be more balanced and keeps the visual layout cleaner and less confusion. It also eliminates any hierarchy in the information chain. Hopefully.

Exercise: Judging a book by its Cover

For this exercise I’m using Guy Sajer’s war time autobiography The Forgotten Soldier. The book is set on the Eastern Front during World War Two and charts Sajer progress from driver to infantryman in the Großdeutschland Division. The book itself is a sobering read for anyone and when initially released was considered in 1965 during the wave of popular books written by Dane Sven Hassle. The two authors were poles apart in terms of style and subject. Where Sajer was considerate, almost contrite, Hassle was brash and obscene. The Forgotten Soldier brought the reader closer to the effects and experience of war than any of Hassle’s Pulp Books and with that came an opportunity for the graphic design to create an iconic cover.

Understandably nearly all but one of the covers I’ve found featured a lone soldier, the single non illustrated cover uses the White Space exceptionally well. Of the illustrated covers, only one actually features an illustration, drawn by Sci-Fi artist Richard Clifton-Dey, whose work for the New English Library publishing house was varied, imaginative and very much of its time. The illustration is raw, showing the physical and emotional effects of battle exceptionally well, and it’s fair to say it would be exceptionally hard to replicate such an illustration as well as Clifton-Dey.

The other titles used established and sometimes clichéd portraits of individual German soldiers, sometimes to great effect, to show the loneliness that one can experience as a soldier. It’s interesting that only one cover features a portrait of a young Sajer as a soldier prior to being an infantier.

The cover that intrigues and appeals to me the most is the illustrated one by French publishing house Robert Lafontt, with shades of work by Joe Colquhoun, a British comic illustrator famous for his World War One work. This add an air of intimacy, is a more personal connection to the story and a line of design I’m keen to follow.

The use of a plain type cover is something rarely seen on popular war books, and while the illustrated books use a range of different types and fonts, the use of a utilised White Space is rarely seen on the cover of military histories, so to see it was intriguing as well as food for thought.

The first stage of my design process was to create a mind map centring on the books title.

The main theme was the title of Sajer’s story, what it meant for him as individual, a soldier and the child of a French/German marriage. The themes were further developed and then a commonality identified; the military. Here the symbology was sought to be unique to show he was a German solider, and there’s nothing more unique than the German wartime helmet. A draft of three possible arrangements was designed, along with how the text only cover would appear.

The first task is to create the basic design for the front page using Affinity Designer utilising the Großdeutschland’s divisional insignia as the centre piece. The helmets were then arranged as if on parade with space for text above and below. The second test cover featured the same image, but with a helmet removed, signifying Sajer, as the forgotten solder. I then coloured a helmet with the French tricolour, to symbolise Sajer’s nationality to see how that would fit. Another experiment features the Großdeutschland’s divisional insignia over the tricolour. However it seemed a little contrived, so won’t be pursued.

Yet as a motif the helmet certainly sticks out, and when placed with copies of the original insignia it makes for an interesting juxtaposition; indentifying Sajer as both a German soldier by the shape of the helmet and as a Frenchman by the Tricolour. This theme also recurs at the end of the book when Sajer takes part in the French Victory parade as a French soldier and his thoughts runaway to where his friend, Hals, is. This alluring to that his connection was stronger with the German army than the French. As one of the 130,000 Frenchmen Alsace and Moselle forced to fight for the Germans because of their births, and the post-war desire by the French authorities to not talk about it Sajer become one of the Malgrd-nous or Despite us/against our will. This theme again confirms the forgotten soldier status of Sajer, and indeed he told in a post capture de-brief to ‘Get yourself home, and try to forget all this as fast as you can’.

I was able to find a book cover tutorial for InDesign, but struggled with it a little so reverted to Affinity Publisher for the design process. For the Font I wanted to use a Black style, but nothing too contrived. For the spine I chose a dark green from a custom palette which I also used for the font colour. The background was coloured a pale yellow green. The Spine font is left justified Georgia 20Pts and rear text is Justified Georgia.

For the front cover I used the Sans-serif Haettenschweiler font (80pts) designed by Walter Haettenschweiler in 1954. This font was designed to be eye catching as given its Black font style suits the cover well. The authors name sits below this Georgia (25pts). The helmets had their opacity reduced to 80%. I then created three differing backgrounds to see how they compared.

Whilst I was happy with the back and spine the front lacked the visual impact I wanted, so I decided upon finding a suitable photograph of German solders marching, one that would allow me to split the page into third and experiment with font placement and type. I appreciate this was a complete departure from form, and I expect this is how themes are developed, but all of a sudden the cover, for me at least, snapped into place. The top of the photo was erased at 50% flow, hardness and opacity to help it merge with the white space, whilst the text was brought in from the edge to helped to define and deliver the final cover. I added the line underneath the title to see how physically and aesthetically the cover would look if separated the title from the author’s name. I found it didn’t sit quite right visually with the text right justified, but pulled away from the edge slightly gave it a more calming appearance.

The green spine details were kept as a tool for theme colour coding by the publishers, echoing the 1930’s classic Penguin covers with their range of colour’s, whilst the back cover information was left as it.

With the illustrated cover complete I was now ready to look at using just font work for the front. The back over and spine achieve the aim of clarity I was after. A quick search of various Text only covers showed how text was used effectively. I was aiming to use three vertical columns, with the central one clear, allowing the side one to be used for information.

The first draft looked ideal, and I chose to include the finally two paragraphs of the book to join the text as they were powerful. As they were mounted there lay along side the vertically set text of the title and the author I decided to highlight the authors name in red and enlarging it to 16pts against the 15pts of the main quote text, which has been skewed to 20°. The title was stretch by 43% which improved the impact of the Haettenschweiler type. Using the White Space wisely I set the vertical aspect of the font deliberately to replicate the erect nature of a soldier standing to attention. A final idea was to split the page into two columns, the title sparing the space with an edited quote, which is the final line in the book, with Sajer’s name highlighted in red.

So comparing the two book covers my favourite has to be the one featuring the photo graph. The text only cover has an appeal, but given the market would be predominantly male (though my daughter has read this book twice now), the photo style follows previously successful approaches, but uses the idea of even belonging to a group one can still be lonely. Of the two I’d say the photo-cover, which was used after my illustrated cover felt a little flat, is more eye-catching and in terms of fulfilling the design brief is more successful on this occasion.

Screen shots of exercise development:

Resources Used

Sajer, G, (1997, The Forgotten Soldier, Third Impression, Orion, London.

Forgotten Soldier covers https://www.pinterest.co.uk/search/pins/?q=the%20forgotten%20soldier%20guy%20sajer&rs=typed&term_meta[]=the%20forgotten%20soldier%20guy%20sajer%7Ctyped

Großdeutschland Division Insignia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Sajer#/media/File:%E2%80%9EGro%C3%9Fdeutschland%E2%80%9D-Division_(Wehrmacht).svg

Richard Clifton-Dey samples https://www.pinterest.co.uk/search/pins/?q=Richard%20Clifton-Dey&rs=typed&term_meta[]=Richard%7Ctyped&term_meta[]=Clifton-Dey%7Ctyped

Book Template https://indesignskills.com/downloads/book-template/

Malgrd-nous reference – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malgr%C3%A9-nous

Barcode Generator https://www.barcodesinc.com/generator/index.php German Infantry still https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-219-0595-05,_Russland-Mitte-S%C3%BCd,_Infanteristen.jpg

Research Point: Book Covers

‘Books used to be made, today they are designed’ –  August Heckscher, 1966.

The thing about book covers is that there are many versions of the same titles. Orwell’s 1984 is a great example of this variety of approach, interpretation of a theme and how publishers, aesthetic taste and contemporary styles shape cover design. The post war period saw a positive bloom of creative designers; Paul Rand, Paul Bacon, Edward Gorey, Elaine Lustig Cohen, and Andy Warhol. It also saw Publishers such Penguin build a contact list of designers to help deliver beguiling, visual stunning yet often simple and abstract covers that were clearly of their period. And that is a great part of thier appeal.

The one thing we tend to look past as researchers is where we find our inspiration. We are almost anchored to the twentieth and twenty first century’s and even more so to the work of culturally familiar writers, works and publishers. A great example of a creative approach is Kolomon Moser’s 1897 book cover design for Ewart Felicie Jugendschatz. This shows creative use of the whole cover and that inspiration and innovation are not a modern approach and deserve to be considered as more art than design. The surface of the book has become a canvas to be utilised by the designer to produce a stunning cover that is more artwork than mere book cover.

This then leads on to looking at work produced by non-English speaking countries, if only for balance and reflection. The creativity is just as wide as America or Great Britain. I chose examples from France and the USSR just to show a visual difference and similarity to how the cover is arranged by artists.

This then brings me to house styles and how each one differs from the other, even during the same time period. As I’m a great fan of Mid-Twentieth century design. Looking at designs its clear to see how certain publishing houses developed their own style. One that springs instantly to mind is Penguin. The colour coded Classics range was initially designed by Edward Young, and developed further by Jan Tschichold, used striking Tyography to introduce and sell the book. The original 1930’s classic covers were split into three horizontal lines, using the white space of the centre line to show off eye catching type as well as book details. The coloured band was the preserve of the brand, with a monogrammed logo at the head and the flightless Penguin, again designed by Young.

Jan Tschichold developed the stripe theme further, inverting them to the horizontal and introducing basic imagery to support the books title and give the potential buyer an insight into the story’s plot. The use of line drawing echoed contemporary illustrative trends, and made excellent use of the central stripes white space. Its also interesting that Tschichold also started to change the font styles at this stage and using it as part of the cover design working with the illustrations.

Of course time stand still for no-man and the covers continued to develop to embrace photography and contemporary illustration styles. By the early 1960’s the coloured stripes slowly began to disappear, slowly replaced by a simple horizontal series of blocks featuring a smaller logo, followed by the title and finally the authors name. The accompanying illustrations had become the key features and the illustrations were visually more powerful and seemingly more important than the author.

This new style continued to develop and soon covers designed by David Gentleman started to appear. The headers were simplified and Gentleman’s series of illustrations for the New Penguin Shakespeare series featured slashed of colour and took on the appearance of wood block carvings. These were intricate, enticing and in some instance, such as Richard III, echoed contemporary paintings with a naivety of touch and lack of perspective.

By the 60’s and 70’s the general style had changed once more and with titling centralised and incorporated into the white space of the cover and engravings continued to dominate. The work of Diane Bloomfield and Bruce Robertson was as challenging as it was enticing. The days of the image reflecting the book were gone, and experimentation was the new game. Here the use of computer generated designs and pseudo science fiction imagery added a touch of modernity.

No where was the use of such stunning and challenging graphs as prevalent as the Pelican series of books. Established as the non-fiction branch of Penguin the covers were always interesting and are worth considerations as they were influenced by the work of Robertson in particular. What is interesting is the use of montage as well as props, which shows a further development of the genre of cover design. The use of symmetrical and abstract themes also help to confirm the type of publications the book is; serious, challenging, no nonsense.

The late 1970’s and 19801’s also saw further developed to include a full CMYK palette and this was used to great effect, providing colourful and enticing covers, often not afraid of raising eyebrows. A Clockwork Orange. Designed and illustrated by David Pelham in 1985 is a notable example of this new found confidence in colour to be found in the library of Penguin books.

Photo Covers were slowly introduced by Penguin featuring the world of designers such as John Sewell. These often featured montages and collages, which as time past featured unique and one-off font designs. The influence of popular culture was clear to see and visual experimentation was not shied away from.

As Steven Heller wrote in his essay Type as agent of Power¹ …the marriage of type and word (and image too) determines tone, tenor, and weight of expression’. Type rarely changed for Penguin in the twentieth century. Whilst instantly recognisable in its varying forms of Gill Sans, as demanded by Tschichold, it was rarely incorporated into the book cover design as a leading element. However, the spread of work by the popular illustrator Ronald Searle in the 1950’s and 1960’s, soon had Tschichold’s policies on Type yielding under his light hand.

However it was in the children Puffin range of books that the fonts stepped away from the rigidity of Tschichold’s edicts and became more playful. They featured often beautifully illustrated covers designed to grab the attention of the young reader, but also featured decorative text. Combined with the smiling Puffin logo the font was often integrated into the cover as in the case of The Jungle Book. These decorative fonts often mimicked children writing, making the title accessible and fun, and event the earlier books, whilst still very rigid in their use of a Serif font, Tarka the Otter for example, they still stood out as something, not adult.

The final set of covers that were used were those featuring elements and close-ups of famous arts works by artists such as Frantisek Kupka (left) N.C. Kierkegaard (centre) and Hans Old (right). The use of such work added a weight of formality to the book, lending them an air of drawing room seriousness that perhaps illustration and photography would miss. In using established and famous artists work not only was there an attempt to provide visual provenance but also an opportunity to expand the readers knowledge of the visual arts. Notice how the details are worked into the overall master designs used during that particular period of publication.

If anything this little foray into the world of book cover design has led me down the proverbial rabbit hole, and whilst I have deliberately chosen to predominantly look at the work of the Penguin House in the mid-twentieth century their twenty-first century output continues to engage the potential buyer through the use of traditional approaches as well as engaging in more contemporary DTP and computer based illustrations. Fonts and type are explored and used to good effect and montage is an increasing staple of visual communication. It will be interesting to see what the future bring the reader.

Resources Used

¹Heller, S, (2014, Design Literacy, Understanding Graphic Design, Allworth Press, New York

Inglis T, (2019), Mid-Century Modern Graphic Design, Batsford, Pavilion Books, London

Paul Bacon Covers https://lithub.com/the-iconic-covers-of-paul-bacon/ (Accessed 24112020)

Edward Gorey http://www.goreybooks.com/cgi-bin/emAlbum.cgi?c=show_image;p=Primary%20Works;i=61#.X71U9Gj7TIV  (Accessed 24112020)

Book cover designers https://thejohnfox.com/2019/09/30-best-book-cover-designers/  (Accessed 24112020)

15 Famous Book Cover Designs https://www.designhill.com/design-blog/famous-book-cover-designs-that-will-inspire-you-to-design-your-own/  (Accessed 24112020)

Best covers of all time https://www.shortlist.com/lists/the-50-coolest-book-covers  (Accessed 24112020)

French book covers https://www.pinterest.co.uk/search/pins/?q=french%20book%20covers&rs=typed&term_meta[]=french%7Ctyped&term_meta[]=book%7Ctyped&term_meta[]=covers%7Ctyped  (Accessed 24112020)

1984 Book Covers https://www.pinterest.co.uk/search/pins/?rs=ac&len=2&q=george%20orwell%201984%20book%20covers&eq=george%20orwell%201984%20covers&etslf=1879&term_meta[]=george%7Cautocomplete%7C0&term_meta[]=orwell%7Cautocomplete%7C0&term_meta[]=1984%7Cautocomplete%7C0&term_meta[]=book%7Cautocomplete%7C0&term_meta[]=covers%7Cautocomplete%7C0  (Accessed 24112020)

Publishers List https://blog.reedsy.com/largest-book-publishers/ (Accessed 24112020)

Paul Rand Collection https://www.pinterest.co.uk/search/pins/?q=paul%20rand&rs=typed&term_meta[]=paul%7Ctyped&term_meta[]=rand%7Ctyped  (Accessed 24112020)

Kolomon Moser https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/413838653264018194/  (Accessed 24112020)

Soviet Book Covers https://www.pinterest.co.uk/search/pins/?q=soviet%20book%20covers&rs=typed&term_meta[]=soviet%7Ctyped&term_meta[]=book%7Ctyped&term_meta[]=covers%7Ctyped  (Accessed 24112020)

Penguin Classic Covers https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/403424079126873847/ (Accessed 25112020)

Penguin Classis Covers https://99percentinvisible.org/article/classic-penguins-how-minimalist-book-covers-sold-paperbacks-to-the-masses/ (Accessed 25112020)

Pelican Covers https://www.pinterest.co.uk/search/pins/?rs=ac&len=2&q=pelican%20book%20covers&eq=pelican%20book%20covers&etslf=1565&term_meta[]=pelican%7Cautocomplete%7C0&term_meta[]=book%7Cautocomplete%7C0&term_meta[]=covers%7Cautocomplete%7C0 (Accessed 26112020)

Puffin Covers https://www.pinterest.co.uk/search/pins/?q=puffin%20childrens%20books&rs=typed&term_meta[]=puffin%7Ctyped&term_meta[]=childrens%7Ctyped&term_meta[]=books%7Ctyped (Accessed 26112020)

Contemporay Penguin book covers https://www.penguin.co.uk/  (Accessed 26112020)

Exercise: HG Wells Book Cover Design Part One

Every day is a learning day and I learned a little more about the work of HG Wells. A course such as this really does open the mind to new ideas and the project to design a cover for three of his none sci-fi novels.

Initial ideas #1

First moment of research – Identifying the novels and initial ideas

The first thing I set to was identifying the suitable novels that would fit the brief of ‘…working as a set and establish the books as timeless fiction’. This meant a bit of trawling through the internet and finding a list of HG Well’s works. I then set about identifying three which have some form of central theme.

I selected Love and Mr Lewisham, Ann Veronica and The History of Mr Polly as the commonality of seeking love and happiness, often through trial and tribulation, resonated with me as being pretty timeless.

It’s fair to say the internet, especially that somewhat occasionally dubious source of information Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._G._Wells) was immensely useful.

I then set to drawing up rough initial draft images of the covers to get an idea of form and how they might fit for final design.

Mr Polly #1

Mr Polly Layout

Mr Lewisham #1

Mr Lewisham Layout

Ann Veronica #1

Ann Veronica Layout

The next stage of the research will cover two areas to focus upon:

  • Contemporary Paperback design; fonts used, colours, styles
  • Mind Map – alternatives to explore.

Resources Used

HG Wells Wikipedia entry. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._G._Wells (Accessed 19032019)