Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Making of a Book Cover Design

We asked our talented Production Fellow, recent UT graduate Angelica Calderon, to give us a glimpse into the cover design process for one of our forthcoming Spring 2014 titles. Our Production Department is award winning, so soak up some of the graphic wisdom from this up-and-coming design star! Take it away, Angie:

In the few months I've been here as the Production Fellow at UT Press, I've learned a few helpful things when it comes to designing and typesetting books, covers, and jackets.


Never key in text. Ever.


Before you start fleshing out ideas, immerse yourself in what the book is about. Become familiar with the content and images inside. This usually helps inform the stylistic approach. You wouldn't write an essay without understanding the prompt first, just like you wouldn't tackle an intricate food dish without reading the recipe a few times. (I should hope so, at least.)


Practice safe design—use a concept. (This is one I picked up from Riley Triggs, one of my design professors at the University of Texas at Austin Department of Art & Art History. Thanks Riley!)

Here's an example of how I've put these lessons into practice. One of my first projects here was to design the cover for Native Evangelism in Central Mexico by Hugo G. Nutini and Jean F. Nutini. I started by reading the summary of the book as well as information given to us by the author about the direction they want the design to take. I took notes on that, and then started making thumbnail sketches of ideas in terms of layout and typography.

Then I started mocking those sketches up on Adobe InDesign. The process is fairly linear; one idea will spark another and take me to the next. 

Much of the time a lot of the mock-ups will never make it to the next stage, but it's good to have your iterations in front of you so that you know what you want and don't want. Here's an example of that:

So with this particular design, Ellen, our Design & Production Manager, and I decided that we liked the cross shape that the text created, but we needed more texture. We ended up deciding on a parchment-like background to help set the tone of the book. Here is the final design:

Native Evangelism in Central Mexico publishes in August 2014. Check out the rest of our Spring 2014 list here.

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