Friday, April 27, 2012

The 7 book cover designs that DIDN'T make it

The cover design has been the toughest part of the book. Now that I'm a part of a book creation process, I feel that book cover design needs to be this tough. Its not easy to represent everything that the book is in one simple visual. It also needs to be attractive, yet aesthetics should not become the only focus. It has to be representative, but not too much. 

Hemant Basankar of Bacteria Designs is the creative force behind the cover of Decoding Communications. A rare breed who is as good with the pencil as he is with the mouse. He sketches with passion and splurges colour and shapes with pixels. 

The cover design of Decoding Communications is of much greater importance than any other book. Its because this book is meant to be "the book of everything in Communications – explaining what should be done, why it should be done, and how it should be done."  You falter in the cover design of a book with such a name, and it reflects. 

All in all, the cover design came as too much of stress for me. At one point, I used to even see T-shirts that made me think of the my cover design. Here, I'm putting up 7 designs which we spent considerable time on (each representing a phase of the thought of which there were several designs), but those that did not not make the final cut. Each design began as excited scribbles, moving onto concept and finally taking shape in the designer's head, and then paper/screen.  

The designs have to be seen like this. Each graphic is entire book cover with five parts, with front cover, spine, back cover and the front-inside and back-inside flaps. The first part (with my photograph) will eventually be folded and become become the inside flap of the back cover. The next section of the graphic is the back cover itself. The third thin strip is the spine of the book. The fourth part of the graphic (with the name of the book) is the actual cover, and the last part is the front-inside flap, which will also be eventually folded in. 


1. In the very beginning we felt that no visual  could do justice to the title. So, the cover had to have only the title on it. Nothing else. The black, grey and red colours gave a stark visual contrast and gave attractiveness to the book. The spotlight effect was also meant to give a sense of mystery to the book.

2. In the next selection shown here, the design clearly shows that
the book deals with 'human communications', and the human head leaves little for interpretation. Inside the head, Hemant visuals to represent symbolic ideas extracted the book. These add a creative and attractive appeal to the book. The cover background was maintained white to give high relief and keep the entire visual focus on the head.
You must not miss the spine, which just has a cut from what's in the head.

3. This design is more conceptual - and draws inspiration from the fact that Decoding Communications is about the magic of communications. We wanted a 'how-the-heck-does-that-trick-get-done' quotient. So, the floating egg in front of the man. No gesturing, no abracadabra. The man could be the reader, he could be the person performing the trick - the ambiguity is carefully constructed. I especially like the spine in this one. In an unusual turn from normal, there is a different image than that in the cover. The man is looking up, and he sees an egg on top of his head, almost as if it were going to fall any moment. This builds a sense of continuity and anticipation where the reader should probably say, "I wonder what happens next?"

4. This black white (and, Hemant's favourite red spine again!) is a study. As if communication were on display and the connoisseur or critic were looking at it to know more, understand more. The glazed exterior of the man was purposely made a little unreal. The study of "C" of Communications showed how beginnings are important for understanding.
5. New colour attempt with mustard yellow, though the red spine and black tones stay. This cover is meant to be intriguing to engage the audiences. The C cut is made in the shape of a key (but not too obviously), as the book is full of contexts where communication is the solution to any problem.
 6. One more type of attempt was to try to use the inherent attractiveness of a human head. Believe it or not, we even toyed with real head getting shaving off in the pattern of 'Decoding Communications' (like football fans haircuts), and Hemant went on to create a sample, with full plans to look for a woman who would be willing to go through this bald hair cut (for the photoshoot). It looked good and we were quite interested in taking this forward, but then we saw a very similar concept for another book cover. Got trashed immediately.

7. This  one is different in concept, where the front and back cover are connected visually. The beckoning finger at the back is meant to do a 'pssst'. We dint want to use a face, and alphabets instead of a face were looking a little untenable. Dropped this concept too, though I personally really like the concept of the hand in the back cover. Its kinda different!

After all these rejections, we finally narrowed in on a concept for the cover. It is entirely from Hemant's visioin, and this one is really tough to execute. But Hemant is taking up like an art project - so kudos to him. This one has hand sketching, calligraphy and visual appeal.

He's half through it. Will post the WIP soon. 

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