Dystopian Novel Cover

March 24, 2014


Our next project is to create a jacket cover for a Dystopian Novel. We were given a list to choose from, and one of my childhood favorites, “Lord of the Flies” was on it. The imagery in the book was so vivid to me as a child and when I recall certain passages of the book, those same images come to mind, seared into my memory with just as much an impression as real events in my past. The images were the stuff of fantasy and nightmares, and I want to approach the design of this book cover by capturing as much of the surreal savagery of those forsaken boys and their plight as I can remember.

The initial image gathering yielded some good finds:  some jungle/forest images that I thought would work well for shape in some cases, and the low contrast, all-encompassing nature of jungle cover:

I also knew I wanted a pig’s head…an iconic image for the story as the name of one of the main characters, Piggy, as well as suggestive of the images of the wild boars throughout and the parachute pilot hung from the trees. I had a few choices:

But there was a clear winner:

back lit. stunning.

back lit. stunning.

This pig’s head has almost exactly the baleful gaze I imagined looking down on those boys during their feverish jungle ordeal and slide into vicious anarchy. The back lit veined ears are fantastic and the color and sheer rawness of the flesh seemed just right. I did find this photo on someone’s flickr account with limited use, so I went ahead and emailed them and explained I’d like to use their photo for my project – they were happy to oblige and I’d like to design a nice photo credit into the cover if it’s possible!

I am still searching for another photographic element; it would be nice to find a circle of boys with spears or bow and arrows to silhouette and add to the composition…I have a couple of possibilities but so far still looking.

In the meantime, I needed a texture. After a bit of experimenting with my chosen photos, I found that the pig’s veined ear, repeated and retouched in Photoshop made a great pattern!:

Pig's Ear Texture

Pig’s Ear Texture in one of the blend modes


So now I’ve put the initial layers together with some masking and blend modes, and pasted in the book title (although its letters are still being worked on for our Alphanumeric Font exercise). I’ve also added my colophon to the spine…however it’s more of a placeholder than anything and I will probably eliminate the off white background and frame, and let the mark brand itself into the cover art.

For the layered photographs, I experimented on quite a few different blending effects, and so far have settled on Pin Light at 80% for the texture to read over the pig’s head, scaled up to cover front and back cover. I made a conscious decision to crop a scaled up image of the head onto the book, placing the pig’s eye on the back cover and the cropped nostril on the front, to imply the looming larger than life as the boys saw it in their delirium and madness. Below are a screenshot and the cover the way it looks to date. Hopefully I’ll get in a few more improvements to the alpahabet before this week’s class and perhaps even find and be able to add in a found image of some boys in silhouette, smallish and placed under the “Lord” in that glowing area of the pig’s snout:

April 1, 2014

At this point I’ve made a substantial change to the book title typeface, enlarging it dramatically so that it pushes and exceeds the edges of the frame. I’ve also toppled the letters in “Lord” to imply the boys fall into dischord and chaos.

I’ve added another element, the flies, which for the moment are taking various positions on the letterforms and the surface of the pig’s head as they would on carrion.

To the letterforms, I added a shape blur effect to soften the hard edges, particularly since I brought them in as photoshop elements and not vectors. I also softened their black color in later versions using the “Linear Light” blend mode at 95% opacity.

For the flies, I added individual blend modes, depending upon which color they predominantly sat. I also added a very slight gaussian blur effect to take off the hard edges of their legs and wings.

The trickiest part so far, and the one that is preventing further exploration of the letterforms, is getting this image to print without coming out completely oversaturated and muddy. I’ve tried printing with various layers turned off to try to see where the problem is, as well as adjusting mid-tone levels of each of the layers to bring the middle value range up to a higher key without changing whitest white and blackest black. It’s a challenging process and I wonder if these complicated layers, masks and blends are beyond my printer’s capabilities. Nevertheless, below are stages of the cover and a few different drafts to show the process moving along.


Below are some screenshots of effects I used to get the searing, acidic colors into the pig:



April 7, 2014


Here are the latest drafts of my Dystopian Novel Cover for “Lord of the Flies”. In these versions, I’ve added the UPC code and the back cover copy text with a little blurb about the book that I wrote. The major changes to the book cover design were:  1) getting rid of a lot of the flies (at the wise suggestion of my professor…though I did keep the few on the back cover as I felt they weren’t competing for attention as much), 2) adding the author’s name to the top of the front cover (William Golding done with the Book Antiqua font…same as the back cover text, then duplicated to increase the letters’ intensity, and 3) playing with an alternate treatment of the book title text. My ideas for the book title were to give the letters either a freshly inked tattoo look or a branded into animal flesh look. The branded look has proved the most difficult to achieve, and I still want to experiment with bevel and emboss and perhaps search the internet to see if I can find a similar effect done in Photoshop or Illustrator (though it feels like more of a Photoshop treatment to me). Below are the two clickable versions, and I’ll be following up with a few screenshots to show how I arrived at the different title effects.


Lord Of The Flies_15(PDF) Black Title with Bevel and Emboss

Lord Of The Flies_16(PDF) Translucent Title with Bevel and Emboss


 April 16, 2014

Here’s one last version of the book cover, where I started to wrap the text of the “Lord” around the pig’s snout and dodge and burn the letters in to its skin. I’d like to play more with the warp of some of the letters as well as get them to burn into the highlights more, but it’s an interesting start.

Lord of the Flies with beginnings of text wrap

Lord of the Flies with beginnings of text wrap

Lord Of The Flies_18FLAT (PDF)


May 22, 2014

LORD OF THE FLIES Book Cover Presentation in Paperback

This is made possible using a great tool, and a FREE resource; a site called PSD Covers, whose author has generously created Photoshop Action Scripts to make various presentation covers; everything from book covers to brochures to iPhone and iMac screens. Very cool.




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