A new book cover – From a draft to a finished design


So how does a cover design take shape through the drafting process? Here’s how things developed with Jumalan kaupunki, City of God cover design.



Here’s the quick draft I started from, as you might remember from my previous post about creating the first drafts.


The next step was to start adding some textures. I also used the background image to create a “fog” that lingered in front and around the male figure. There are also some color adjustment layers to create a more saturated look. However, this quite red tinted version turned out to be a bit too bloody and sinister.


The publisher still wanted the cover to be edgier, the story of the book to be a bit more visible on the cover while also adding something that breaks the symmetry. So I added a layer of film roll and a scratched effect on the left side that shows only a silhouette of the male figure on black background. There was something that was still a bit too beautiful about this version, so I decided to try out a film burn effect in stead of the scratching effect.


This version was mostly liked, but also critiqued for capturing the atmosphere of anxiety too well. With everything that is going on in the cover, the fonts, the clouds, the burnt film – there are just too many chaotic elements. At this point, there was also a request to add something visual about the slums. So I decided to do some more editing and dial down with the elements. I sent in the next three versions for the last review:


A fully simplified version with a quieter, stylized font for the author and the translator. I ended up killing my original darling, the double exposure effect, leaving the image of the man more exposed and bare, more a focal point for the layout.


An edgier version that still had some remnants of the double exposure, but leaving the man more visible and adding an image of a slum in the background. I also moved the Christ statue to the upper right corner, so that it wouldn’t be such a focal point but still giving a reference to the location of the story.

Jumalan kaupunki (City of God) cover (COMING SUMMER 2016)

And last but not least, the version that will be the cover. This one is in a way the perfect middle ground of the previous two, giving the main stage to the image of the young man, only a little darker. Yet the other elements are in place, the reference to Rio, the slums, the violence, the photography.

This was a challenging project, but so well worth all the work put into it. Not only did I end up pushing myself to creating something far darker than I normally do, but also finding new ideas and techniques in PhotoShop. And also some new ways to look at my own work and edit, edit, edit. More of this, please 🙂

The book’s inside layout will be on my desktop closer to summer, so I’ll write more about this particular project then.

In the meanwhile I will be working on a cover for a Japanese book of poetry and two branding projects. I’ll keep you up to speed while things move forward.

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