Digital Art Projects > Book Jacket Series

A book cover is promotional design—a viewer needs to be attracted with visual interest. Design a series with the goal of establishing corresponding graphic elements and compositions to help people recognize and identify the books as belonging together. Among the covers, there should be similarities in the kind of imagery (illustrations versus photographs), style, common composition / template (placement of the title, author’s name, imagery, etc.), type treatments, color palette, and type/image relationships. This unit focuses on how to generate design concepts and how type and image work cooperatively to communicate the concept. Remember, visual hierarchy is paramount for clear communication along with balance, unity, and flow.

Learning Objectives
-- Understand the purpose of cover design
-- Become acquainted with the process of designing a cover
-- Realize the design requirements for a series of covers
-- Establishing correspondence among the covers
-- Designing a flexible template
-- Opting for unity with variety: triplets or cousins
-- Conceiving a conceptual framework and individual concepts
-- Expressing concepts through integration of type and image

Project Overview

Step 1: Research
-- Define the purpose and function of the book covers, the audience, and the information to be communicated.
-- What are the impediments to getting the message out and opportunities to communicate the message?
-- Choose 3 physical books that you will create visually united covers for. These books can be part of a series, written by the same author, or united by a similar theme
-- Make sure you are familiar with the content of the book: how you want to represent or suggest this content on the front covers?
-- Who is the audience and what is their incentive to read this series?
-- Visit the AIGA Design Archives ( to browse and view selections from a contemporary collection of hundreds of designs that have been awarded recognition by the AIGA.

Step 2: Sketchbook Concepts
-- In your sketchbook, create at least twenty unique thumbnail drawings.
-- This project is visually driven, type is a secondary focus.
-- Concentrate your conceptual thinking on finding creative solutions to prompt people to want to pick the books off the shelf.
-- Once you create your thumbnail drawings, share them with the class.

Step 3: Digital Roughs
-- Select your two best concept ideas for this series and create two roughs for each concept in Photoshop or Illustrator before going to the comp stage. This means, create 6 images total:
-- Rough / Concept 1 includes roughs for books A, B, C
-- Rough / Concept 2 includes roughs for books A, B, C
-- For each concept design, the book covers should have a similar visual appearance (e.g., visualization style, composition, typeface, and/or color palette), as if they belong to a series.
-- Each design must include: the book title, author, and imagery
-- Be sure to establish visual hierarchy.
-- These designs should be well thought-out and executed. Imagine you are presenting these to a publisher.

Step 4: Front Cover Comps
-- Decide on your best cover concept design.
-- Create a final front and back cover comp for each book in the series using Illustrator and/or Photoshop.
-- Unless you are creating a typographic book cover or are using illustrative fonts that you digitally manipulate, save all of the text for InDesign.

Step 5: Book Jacket Design Comps
-- Create a book jacket template in InDesign
-- Add 3 total pages to your document: 1 for each jacket
-- Adjust A-Master to include text/image boxes in the spaces that you want text throughout your book series. Consistency is key in publishing-- the book titles and author's names should be the same font, same size, and in the same place unless it's conceptually important that they are different.
-- Import your front and back cover designs into your InDesign workspace.
-- Carefully consider the back cover, spine, and interior flaps. You may need to work in Illustrator or Photoshop to create imagery, texture, patterns, etc to import into this Master InDesign file.
-- Your book jacket designs must be unified in style, color, graphic technique, etc but are varied enough to hold visual interest.

Include the following elements in your design:
-- Front cover with title and imagery
-- Book spine
-- Inside cover flap with information about the book content that engages readers
-- Back cover: include imagery, summary, and/or quotes. Also include a barcode with ISBN number
-- Inside rear cover flap that is about the author. Include an image or illustration of the author.