Category Archives: 1 Magazines and books

Judging a book by its cover

I am asked to choose a book by  an author I am familiar with. I will have to design 2 covers for this book, one using illustrations or photography and the other using just type. I will design the cover, spine and back page. I am supposed to keep in mind that my design will need to help the reader know what the experience of reading the book will be. The author I decided to choose is Jacek Palkiewicz, he is a Polish journalist, traveler and explorer. He wrote over 30 books on his expeditions. Among his many achievements are discovering the sources of the Amazon River and crossing the Atlantic Ocean alone in a lifeboat in 44 days. I have a few books by this author. I like his style of writing, it is very ‘as a matter of fact’, there is no glorifying of his achievements, it is just a very interesting read about exploring inaccessible corners of the world.

The book I will choose for this exercise is called ‘Life’s passion’ by Jacek Palkiewicz. The book contains a set of the author’s most important trips that were presented in a number of different books. Here, those most memorable moments are gathered together and published in one book. The readership of this book is very broad, it could attract men and women, people of different ages, it can be read by a teenager as  much as by an elderly person. It is written for people who appreciate and enjoy travelling, learning about new places. It could attract people from different walks of life as it is written in a very approachable way. I want for the cover to give the reader an idea of what is inside the book. It has to present something that people associate with travelling, discovering and exploring. I started with sketching in my sketchbook.

20150126_101002 The first idea that came to my mind was hiking boots and prints that boots would leave on the ground. Then I sketched compasses, binoculars and wrote keywords for this project. In the end I decided to use photographs for the first cover. I included photos of foliage, water, sand and rocks to represent the variety of places that the author writes about in this book. It took me a while to get the layout right.

cover2 cover5 cover6 cover7 cover8

The colours in the original photos were quite harsh, so changed the transparency to calm them down. I used the Century Gothic font for the final cover. The book’s title is written in uppercase on the cover, the author’s name is slightly smaller and placed in the bottom part. The spine contains a similar arrangement. The back contains a photo of the author and his brief bio.


Book cover 1


I decided to design a second cover for the book using photographs as I thought that the author might think that the first cover is a bit too peaceful and calm and it does not show the excitement associated with travelling/exploring and instead it looks a bit like a set of postcards. So the second version will be a bit bolder.

I will keep the background white for the second cover to help create a contrast with photos of traveller’s gear that will be placed on the cover. I used photos of ski, a torch, climbing rope and an oar. I placed 2 items under the title and 2 around the author’s name to balance the elements on the cover. The font I used for the cover, spine and back is BBAlpha Serif.


Book cover 2


The last cover is supposed to be made using just type. I had a look at the sketch of ideas for this exercise and I thought that a print of a hiking boot would be appropriate for this. The little individual elements of the print could be made out of letters.

footprint cover1

After thinking it through I decided to use the hiking boot idea, but use the whole outline of the boot instead of a print. I used a photo of a hiking boot and based experimenting with type on its outline. I tried to incorporate the title of the book and the author’s name into it.

20150217_211951  try1to4  try5  try6

After a few tries I thought that the text fitted quite well, I think it is readable. The book title is written in a larger font comparing to the author’s name as the title should be the main focus of the cover and it also helps to prevent the two from merging together. The bottom line that is the author’s name has the bottom parts of the letters coloured black to make it look like a black rubber sole, I also added a few lace holes to make the design easier to identify. Some of the letters are wobbly, uneven, some have ragged edges, I hope that makes the boot look worn, as if it was used in many of the author’s expeditions.


Book cover 3


I am content with the overall design. The hiking boot idea represents the topics that the book is about, it is something that the author had with him on all his travels. I am hoping that this creation resembles clearly a hiking boot, otherwise the cover might be a bit confusing. I think this cover works best out of the three. I find the first cover a bit of a miss, it is too ‘pretty’ and mushy. The other 2 covers are bolder in their design, therefore they work better and give clearer message on what the book is about.

Magazines and books-Magazine pages

I am asked to choose a magazine, newspaper or journal and work out the grid that they have used and develop it further. I went through a few magazines and chose a Polish magazine called ‘Polityka’, every few months they publish the special issue that is dedicated to one topic. The issue I have is about languages, how they formed, their history and how languages changed overtime. There are a lot of articles and different grids in the magazine, but there was one grid that repeated a couple of times throughout the issue.

20150118_161206 20150118_161237

It was a double page spread with a 2 column grid on each page. It consisted of a heading and subheading in the top left corner on the first page, an image is placed on the right of the heading and subheading. The 2 text columns fill the bottom half of the first page. The second page consists of 2 text columns that fill the whole page. The 2 pages are A4 size. The top margin is 3cm, bottom margin is 1.5cm. On page 1 the left margin is 3cm and right 1.5cm and on page 2 left one is 1.5cm and right one is 3cm. The 2 text columns on page 1 are 13cm long and 7.5cm wide, on page 2 they are 24cm long and 7.5cm wide. The gutters are 2.5cm wide.

I like this layout. It is very straight forward, making reading it easy. There is quite a lot of white space, which makes the design clean. The only thing that I would alter is making the white space between the pages larger and reducing the size of gutters between the 2 columns on page 1 and page 2.

As for the typefaces used, the closest ones I found for body text were Floris SP and Norlik Condensed and for the heading That Book and Imperium. I cannot really recognise typefaces myself as there are so many of them, so I used to get a close match. The results are not exactly the same as typefaces used in the article, but they are very similar.

I drew up a 2 page spread using the same grid as in the magazine.

20150118_161237  grid1

I will base my experiments with the grid, typefaces and images on the article called ‘Poliglotyzm stosowany’, it is an article about polyglotism. The image in this article completes it, giving it a slightly playful feel. I found a few images online that suit the subject and I will try to experiment with the grid, images and typefaces to present this article in a few different ways.

Version 1

The first version of the article is directed towards a younger audience. The playful heading font combined with the colourful images allude to the informal nature of the piece. The heading and subheading is written in Kristen ITC Regular font, I moved it to the centre of the page, there is a large and colourful image underneath. I also placed a smaller image on page 2 to break up the article and to add something vibrant to the page. I made the text columns wider and made the margins and gutters similar size. Stretching the columns allowed me to fit 2 images without changing the font size which is 7pt as in the mock-up. I also kept the Constantia Regular font of the body text, as it is easy to read and is suitable for continuous text. The body text is justified.



Version 2

The second version of the article about polyglotism might be suitable for a magazine for adults who do not take themselves too seriously. The layout of the piece is quite classic, but the image used might attract readers with a sense of humour, alluding to the relaxed and lighthearted content of the article. I made the heading quite large and kept a bit of white space around the heading and subheading. I changed the layout of the text columns and added the image on page 2. The blue line on page 1 separates the title from body text and links the pages by the use of the same colour as used in the image on the opposite page. The heading is written in Corbel Bold and body text in Cambria Regular and it is justified.


Version 3

The third version is quite formal looking, without any playful or humourous accents. It might suit a magazine that concentrates on dry facts, with a somewhat academic feel. The image added is quite predictable and safe. The heading is written in Microsoft Sans Serif Regular and body text in Minion Pro Regular. I also increased body text size to 8pt and aligned it to the left.


In all 3 versions I stuck to the popular rule of using serif fonts for body text and to having 2 columns of text on each page. This exercise allowed for further experimenting with layouts. It showed how different elements can change the feel of the publication. The choice of typeface, layout or image depends on the kind of readership.

I like the second version best. The first page looks clean because of white space around the heading, page 2 has text columns which are same size and a humourous image on top indicating that the article will not be too serious or boring.