Penguin Book Design: Market Research

As part of my research I went on to Waterstones’ website and took a look at the books found in the teen & young adult section to gain a feel of the type book covers that are designed for that age group.

Above are just a small sample of the books that can be found. What I noticed from looking was that a lot of books seem to use a hand rendered typeface, which although I definitely think they have their place, feel slightly overdone – more so the covers that have solely used the type. Although, I do think it is something to consider because they are able to help add to the mood and atmosphere the cover is trying to create.

With that, I feel that illustration is a favoured option for covers within this age range. I think they are a more appealing way to convey the contents of a book, making it more fun and engaging for a younger audience. However, this style does not work for every genre as can be seen above. The darker and more serious books have darker backgrounds and generally feel darker, often using photography.

Photography is another technique I have seen used, this is not as prominent as typography and illustration. However, what I’ve noticed with photographic covers is that they either try to capture some form of texture or are collaged with other visual elements such as other images or illustrations in order to create a more visually interesting cover.

As mentioned previously, textures are also used on covers, not as much, but they do appear. An example of this can be seen above with the book; ‘This Mortal Coil’ the book photographs powder that has been thrown towards the camera. By using this and working it with the type it helps to create a sense of depth and mystery. The colour red indicates some form of danger or passion. It is a simple technique, but has the ability to create a lot of meanings based on the story.

Overall, what I will take away from this research is that many young adult books use a lot of hand rendered type and illustration and I question how I can use these techniques to make my book cover stand out. I do like the idea of photographic covers, but I wonder whether this is strong enough to capture the minds of teens and young adults? I personally don’t think it is – I do think there is a potential with using textures to covey meaning. But again there needs to be something appealing and eye-catching with this technique. I think with thought and consideration to the story there is potential with this technique and I think it would be nice to explore them and perhaps an alternative to what has already been done.


Penguin Book Design: Design Research

I have completed relevant research into book cover designs in order to gain some inspiration and to also understand what it takes to design an eye-catching book cover.

Example 1: Frankenstein


The cover on this book is extremely simple with just the use of typography sitting on the cover with a large amount of negative space sitting above it. However, I like this design because of the way the typography has been played with. The designer has used actual meat and stitched into it to create the letterforms. This simple act reveals just enough to the reader as to what the story of Frankenstein is all about. The surrounding negative space allows all of the focus to be kept on the type and allows the reader time to dissect it (no pun intended) as the visual link is attached to the title itself.

Example 2: Jaws


This is another favourite of mine, again for the playfulness of the typography and how that has been intertwined with the visual element of the cover. Everyone knows the story of Jaws, but even for those who don’t, the simple act of having the tip of the ‘A’ coming out of the water automatically creates a link with sharks and the way their fin emerges from the water. The fact that the rest of the letterforms have been cut off at the edge of the water emphasises the visual element of this cover even further by making the letter ‘A’ the focus point. Again having such a large amount of negative space works well here as it allows the focus to be kept on the type. The fading of the colour blue creates a dark and unsettled undertone that sets the atmosphere of the book – that it is filled with suspense; again, another simple but effective technique that works well here.

Example 3: Columbine


I chose this because I find it to be extremely intense and thought-provoking – and that’s just from the cover. The book is about the shooting that took place at Columbine High School. It is of course a devastating event that took place in 1999 and the photo used clearly conveys that. The use of having so much cloud in the image creates an almost abandoned feeling, as if it is a place that no-one wants to be near. There is an eerie atmosphere with the choice in type adding to that. The designer has clearly considered the content of the book in great deal and has executed the mood and atmosphere effectively with the use of one image. It is direct and clear that this is a serious book looking into a serious event that has taken place.

Example 4: The Psychopath Test


I have had the pleasure of reading this book and would be one I highly recommend. The reason I selected this cover as an example of good work is because I think it gives a clear insight into the subject matter of the book. Psychopathy is something that is heavily discussed throughout the book, through both a criminal nature and business related. There are many traits and elements that determine whether one is a psychopath or not, but these traits can be hidden and therefore there are many layers that make up a Psychopath. The use of the rip to reveal a hidden layer creates a link to Psychopaths. It also shows that it is not black and white and there are many arguments and theories explored throughout adding to the idea of layers. The covers creates a sense that the reader is gaining an insight – and that’s exactly what the author; Jon Ronson does.

Example 5: Resistance


I like this cover due to its simplicity. The book is called ‘Resistance’ and so the designer has wrapped the book in elastic bands. A material that is resistant to stretch and force is required to stretch it. The simplicity in realising the link between the material and the title of the book is brilliant in my opinion. I like how there has been a clear consideration to the placement of the type and bands have been placed in such a way that they work with type and do not feel like two separate elements.

Overall, what I have found throughout my visual research is that the strongest book cover designs for me are the ones that are at their simplest form and have a clear coherent link with the content of the book. They are not blatantly obvious, but give enough away that it creates an atmosphere to give the reader an insight into the sort of thing that they will experience throughout the book.

Penguin Book Design: The Book

For this competition I have decided to opt for Malorie Blackman’s, ‘Noughts and Crosses’. This is a book I studied at school and is one I remember enjoying. I have not visited the book in a number of years and therefore thought that this would be the perfect opportunity for it.

So what is the premise of the story?

Sephy is a Cross – a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a nought – a ‘colourless’ member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses.

The two have been friends since early childhood. But that’s as far as it can go. Until the first steps are taken towards more social equality and a limited number of Noughts are allowed into Cross schools… Against a background of prejudice and distrust, intensely highlighted by violent terrorist activity by Noughts, a romance builds between Sephy and Callum – a romance that is to lead both of them into terrible danger…

This book undeniably looks at the issue of racism with dark-skinned being the ruling class and white-skinned being the inferior class. It turns what we know racism to be, on its head by reversing the circumstances. The book explores the issues that erupt from racism and force the reader to take a step back and think of the consequences laid out before them.

However, as much as the book explores a world of divide, hatred and ruling, the reader is forced to view such a world through the eyes of two teenagers, one being nought and the other a cross. Although we see them grow up in a world that forces them to lead very different lives, we also see a friendship that blossoms between the two. This friendship later grows into a romance. Despite the differences in their circumstances, which leads them to make some questionable, even stupid decisions, the love they have for one another is unquestionable. They always remain hopeful that the world can change and fight to make that change take place. They do not view each other based on the colour of their skin, but see each other as individual people, with likes and dislikes.

What I love most about this book is that it shows just how destructive ideas can be on society, and on people – as we see with Callum and Sephy. Yet throughout all of this, the two characters remain hopeful and love defies all in the end, they don’t listen to what society tells them what they can or can’t do.

This book is as much about love, hope and will for change as it is hatred, divide and racism. It is easy to focus on the negatives but a focus must be placed on the positives to allow change to take place within the world.

Research into the book:

Here is a quote from the Q&A section on Malorie Blackman’s website:

I wanted the society in my book to be viewed from two different points of view (Callum and Sephy’s) to show how our perspectives colour our thinking. The adage, ‘you can’t really know someone until you have walked in their shoes’, is like all clichés mostly true. That I think was the idea I had in mind when I sat down to write Noughts and Crosses. I think it was Nietzsche who said, ‘There is no truth, only perspectives. And the more perspectives you have, the closer to the truth you get.’

What I like here is that Blackman realises that racism derives from looking through a single lens and that it is only through engaging in a range of perspectives can we really make informed opinions. This book uses two perspectives from both sides and that leads the reader to see their world from two angles.

Whilst their relationship is explored through these life changing events, it is the moments of quiet intensity between them which are particularly evocative. Even though society and prejudices have tarnished both their lives, their love for one another and hope for equality is inspiring.

– review from Paperback Worlds

The story focuses on their relationship, which is frowned upon by society, and explores the discrimination they encounter at every turn. By reversing traditional racial stereotypes and presenting the White population as the oppressed race, Blackman has cleverly shown racial prejudice from a different perspective.

As well as being a compelling tale of love and friendship, this is an outstanding and thought-provoking exploration of the futility of prejudice. A contemporary classic.

– review from Book Trust

Themes found within the book:

  • Racism
  • Discrimination
  • Violence
  • Friendship
  • Courage
  • Hope
  • Betrayal

Existing Book Covers:

Above are the existing covers that can be found for Noughts and Crosses. All three covers make a blatant use of the symbols for noughts and crosses, with two of the covers relying on the colours black and white and the clear divide between the two. Those two covers portray a very literal interpretation of the story and in my opinion are not very interesting to look at. The third cover is the only one that uses colour on the cover which instantly makes it more visually appealing and forces the viewer to take more time to try and work out what it could mean. The title and author’s name are in red, a colour which relates to both danger and passion – which we see within the book. The symbol of the nought and the cross have a mix of colours within them which I think represents Callum and Sephy who like each other for who they are and not the colour of their skin. The black background is then used to create a dark and uptight atmosphere. All three covers have also used a textured effect for the two symbols, which I think creates a raw and gritty feel, something that the book also creates.

From looking at these covers, I want to try and avoid obvious imagery, such as the nought and the cross symbol and the use of black and white in a blunt way. I think if they can be used in a different and imaginative way, then I will be pleased, but I want to avoid the obvious. I want the viewer to be visually engaged and to take a moment to think of the relationship the image has with the story.

MYOB: Business Cards

As part of the brand identity and to cement the business further, we were told to design and print business cards.

I therefore went about designing our business card. This had a tight deadline and therefore a quick prototype had to be developed.

Here is the result:

The idea was to use the colours from the logo as the background and have the logo and strapline in a lighter colour on the foreground. The back then used the marque but was altered to create a pattern style with all of our contact details within it. The idea behind the design was to show the versatility of the logo and the design.

However, Richard gave feedback suggesting that the front was flat and very one dimensional. Nothing stuck out and jumped off the page. He felt that the strapline had been placed on without much thought. He did like the back of the card however, which was positive to hear.

I agreed with the feedback because I realised that my concept of each colour representing each of the processes from the strapline was not being communicated effectively. I therefore took the advice on board and did a complete redesign of the front of the card.

Here is the final result:

I am much more pleased with this design. When comparing it to my first design, it feels much more contemporary and through making the strapline bigger it becomes the focal point. I have changed the background to be white with each word being a colour from the logo. This communicates my concept much more effectively as the audience can see the connection between the colour in the logo with the colour of the word creating a clear and obvious link. The bold type also makes it much more eye catching and interesting to look at.

Creative Review: Jigsaw’s Advert Campaign

Scouring through Creative Review, I came across an article looking into Jigsaw’s (a luxury British fashion brand) latest advertising campaign. The campaign titled ‘Heart Immigration’ made a rather bold and political statement into the often complicated issue of immigration.

Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 00.46.00Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 00.45.43Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 00.45.35Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 00.45.48

What I love most about their new campaign is their direct and to the point approach. There is no hidden message that can be debated – it is clear that they are in favour of immigration and without it they would not be the company known today.

It shows that sometimes being direct without waffling and having hidden messages is the best way to be. It has potentially to cause a stir, but if it gets people talking about the issue of immigration in a positive manner rather than the usual negative manner then they have achieved their goal. This bold campaign will definitely turn heads and for this makes it a very successful advertising campaign in my opinion.

Changing Faces Editorial – Final Print & Evaluation

Below are images of my printed spreads that have been bound together:




I photographed them on the purple paper in order to get the spread to stand out more. I am very pleased with the end result and the overall design of each spread. I think I have considered what each spread is trying to depict in order to create a narrative for the article. I feel that one of the key strengths of the design is the negative space as I have considered it so that helps to control the pace and direct the eye of the reader. Another strength I believe lies in the hierarchy of each element on the page, each one has been considered so the path of eye is directed.

Overall, I am pleased with my design and the progression of the spreads in comparison to where they began. I believe that I have used a range of techniques to achieve the end result which has all been built up throughout the course of the year. I have tried to push myself beyond my comfort zone and have really tried to be ambitious with my imagery and layouts in order to push the way I design forward and develop my skills. Going forward I do believe that i will have a lot more confidence in tackling a brief such as this. I have thoroughly enjoyed the project and have particularly enjoyed editorial design.

Going forward I will take the skills I have learnt and apply them to future projects, particularly in regards to type detailing and hierarchy. I do think that I should have tried a few more layouts in order to fully explore my concept. Nonetheless, I am pleased with the end result.

Updated Type Specimen Project

In response to the feedback I received on my type specimen poster, I went back to make various changes in order to try and improve the overall design.

Here is the final piece:


Based on the feedback I received, I have made a few alterations to the type specimen. The biggest change I have made is extending the letters behind the letter g to stop it feeling so restricted and confined. I have also given some space between the ‘Morris Fuller Benton’ and the ‘1902’ from the extended descender.

However, these changes were implemented not long after Christmas, after receiving my feedback, but upon further reflection now, I still think that the title and letterforms can be pushed further. I think that there are some changes that can be made to strengthen the piece further. I don’t think I fully explored the feedback. Something I aim to resolve.

Unfortunately, I went to try and refine it further but as my laptop has recently broken I was forced to use the computers in the Graphics studio, which did not have Franklin Gothic on any of the machines. Matt tried to help me resolve this but was only able to find one weight meaning I could not make the appropriate adjustments.

This is what it looked like:

Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 11.49.01.png

As its clear to see in comparison to the one above, this is drastically different and does not look anywhere near as good as the image above.