Cover advice: Geppetto's Chains

Apropos of this post on Covercritics.


Artwork

Your artwork is good and has all the potential to look professional and eye-catching on a cover. But it does need tweaking to really get there.


While the head/ear-piece area is nice and sharp and high contrast, the face is very muddy and getting lost against the background.


It can really help to detect issues like this to take a look at a black and white version of your cover:



See how indistinguishable the face is from the background? And that's especially true at thumbnail: without being to make out the face clearly, the whole artwork falls apart into unreadability.


So some careful work needs to be done making the face feel distinct against the background, and balancing the high contrast and heavy shadows of the head-piece with something closer to that contrast here.


The palette could also stand to be improved. It's good to keep a cover to a simple palette, but it needs to pop and you haven't got quite enough tone or colour contrast.


So let's take a look at how playing with the tones and colours improves the readability and liveliness of the artwork.


I've done an extremely quick and dirty clone-n-levels job, and immediately you can see that the version on the right is immediately richer and more eye-catching.


(I've also rearranged type elements but I'll come to that below).


If I show you them in the monochrome version you can see clearly how much richer the tonal variation is in the revised version. Your eye is drawn to the important parts of the image, the parts that help us make sense of the whole thing: the face, especially the eye.



Composition/placement

In the above I've also rearranged how the various elements (artwork and text elements) fit together.


The placement of type and artwork should always complement each other. I don't know why your designer has placed the title over the artwork when there's ample negative space to use. It not only makes the image read more confusingly, it also makes the cover look less bespoke.


As well as the issue of overlap on the face/title, the artwork and text elements aren't working together well in some other ways. E.g. there's a big area of boring empty space in the top left-hand corner etc. The shapes of the elements are just not being used to complement each other.


Text alignment

I've tried a couple of cover layouts, below. In both cases you'll see I've picked up on something from your original version - the non-central aligning of text. I think used advisedly this is something that can really be used to add a sense of bespokeness and character to your cover and complement the artwork shapes and spaces.



Font

The font choices in the original aren't bad. The title font suits the genre fine and reads nice and clearly.


It's quite a proportionally wide font, though, and when you have a long word in your title (like 'Geppetto's') a wide font means you have to have quite a small font size to fit it on. That loses impact.


It also feels like it lacks personality a little. I've instead used a font called Belanusa because it's narrow and has a touch more character.


Visual hierarchy

Finally the guiding star should always be to achieve a strong visual hierarchy. What that means is simply a clear order of dominance of the elements; the order in which your eye is drawn from one element to the next.


This is at the heart of all graphic design and subject to way too many factors to go into in depth. But what you should be aware of for cover design is that the broad principle that the title should leap out first, before your eye is drawn to other pieces of information like the byline and details of the illustration.


The existing cover doesn't have a very good sense of that hierarchy or flow.


My versions have improved the flow, with the text elements picking up on the shapes of the artwork. But I think the elements are a little too balanced in eye-catching-ness. So I've looked at the same compositions but changing the colour of the byline to give it a little less impact than the title:



These remain very rough passes but hopefully they demonstrate the principles that improve basically good elements to being as effective as they can be!

​© 2018 by Kathryn Rosa Miller. Created with Wix.com

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