Valiant Hearts is another game I played that has an art style I could maybe borrow ideas from for my The Road book cover. It is similar to This War of Mine in its limited palette and pencil like linework though where it differs is in its more stylized character design and brighter colour palette. Were This War of Mine’s style grounds in it in a dark, realistic reality this game still achieves its same gritty atmosphere but because of the stylization I would say it makes the game more grounded in a fictional world. The game is character focused whereas so these characters are literally and figuratively made colourful against a grim backdrop.
This is more about the technique I would use to create this piece rather than a draft. So the theme would be The mans footprints in the snow next to his sons smaller ones with the back cover being them stood looking into the distance. To achieve the look of the footprint I drew out the sole of a show, inverted the colour in Photoshop and then put a watercolour texture I made over the top to look like disturbed snow. This obviously is an early version and if I was to do this I would draw the sole of the show more carefully but I think think the test went quite well.
This is a very early rough I made for layout purposes of some even earlier thumbnails I did. The idea of this piece is to have the father son pushing the trolley in the bottom right corner of the cover (possibly scale them down for a nicer composition) The back features a slowly rising tree/rubble line. The foreground would be in silhouette with maybe some detail and/or texture. The pencil shaded area would be a mid tone colour; I’m thinking a grey or a blue. The circles are snow flakes and would be odd shapes and infrequent to make them look natural. Title of the book would go at the top, I have not looked at the sort of font I want to use yet.
Things I like about this draft
- Limited palette and is in the silhouette style I wish to practice/improve.
- Even the empty space will have some small object or texture in it.
- In my opinion achieves the lonely, helpless vibe the characters feel throughout the book.
Things I don’t like
- It is kind of generic, comparing it to the other book sleeves I researched it looks very similar to them. Whilst this does mean it is more likely to fit the theme of the book I can probably be more interesting.
- The objects on the front and back currently end with the same spike up in the bottom left corner. I could make the back so it arches at either side and frames on the blurb space to fix this.
This War of Mine is a survival game that I played earlier in the year. One of the things that set it out for me is its limited, penciled in, art style. It uses striking tone contrasts to set give its scenes depth and uses a distorted, pencil texture to create its ‘fog of war’. It really sets the theme of the game and makes your characters feel they really are in a hopeless environment. The game also uses a combination of drawn in artwork with real photos that brings it into reality, drawing someone playing the game deeper in.
I am considering taking inspiration from this style of art in my The Road sleeve design. The colour palette seems a fitting starting point and working with silhouettes, like a lot of the game is, is a skill I want to improve. The pencil distortion could also be a good starting point on designing weather effects that would fit with the road, though actual weather is definitely something I should look at as well, this offers a different way to tackle it.
The book sleeve I have decided to redesign is The Road by Cormac McCarthy. To sum up the story, it is a book about a father and sons journey across a destroyed America after an extinction level event and their tale of survival.
I found as many existing covers/book sleeves done for The Road as I could to get an idea of common themes and design choices that others associate with the book. The obvious theme is of course ‘a road’ and any imagery representing travel or a journey of the two characters. A road disappearing into the distance suggesting it is a futile, never ending journey came up frequently whilst looking for covers.
Another theme I noticed was a weathered look both in the sense of a battered look to intentionally put into the book design and actually showing adverse weather conditions on the cover of the book. Both of which are being used to show how bleak the characters journey and time will be within the story.
A destroyed civilization, ruined buildings and dead trees are another theme found often lining a road or used as a backdrop for the characters showing the unspecified destruction that happened in implied prequel events. The trees especially I find make the composition of the covers more interesting, filling otherwise blank areas of the book with interesting line-work.
The final subject matter in the book are objects from within the book and the characters themselves. The characters, I feel, work best when combined with previously described themes. An example is the book cover with the characters silhouettes with the environment depicted with their outlines, something I think looks effective. It tells a lot whilst being condensed in a way so that to not overwhelm a viewer of the cover. Other objects such as the revolver image on the road I feel are too specific. Sure the revolver is on a road that that in itself is a very forced example of imagery, whilst the revolver is mentioned a lot in the book, and used, I think putting a revolver on the cover is misleading from what the actual story is.
A brief I got quite into in my second year of uni involved designing a book sleeve for ‘War of the Worlds’. For this brief I want to try a new set of sleeves on a different books in order to develop the skills and style I used in the previous book design brief.
First Year Book Cover
Second Year Book Cover
On the left is a book sleeve I designed in my first year for Stephen Kings ‘Gunslinger’ series using different printmaking techniques and Adobe Photoshop. On the right is my second year ‘War of the Worlds’ piece designed using Adobe Illustrator and put together using Photoshop. Comparing the two pieces I think the composition of my first year piece is less ‘floaty’ but overall the designs used on it look quite messy. The background texture on the first year piece also looks, in my opinion more interesting with its more varied but less harsh looking textures. With the second year piece I feel the actual design work within it has drastically improved and looks a lot cleaner. I would put this down to the transition to using illustrator to design the buildings allowing for a more consistent design. I also think my font choice and layout improved on the second piece. It looks more professional. Simple and bold. For the next book design I do I need to apply the successful elements from both pieces and find a balance which will allow me to continue to improve my book sleeve designs.
Next steps will be looking into book covers and figure out what features make them work, choose a book to redesign and start the drafts.