Graphic Design and Illustration.

Do You Judge a Book By Its Cover?

Most designers would add a “yes” to that statement. Lots of people would probably agree as well. Publishers go to great pains to create engaging covers that will entice potential readers to pick up the book and read it. Colours, typefaces, imagery and layout all go through lots of iterations in the hopes of finding the “perfect” cover for a book.

And then I ran into something quite different.



While celebrating both my 45th birthday and a slightly belated Valentine’s day, my wife and I ditched the kids for a weekend and had a little staycation in the downtown of our home city of Winnipeg. We were shopping in the Forks Market when I noticed a fun little experiment being done by one of the local shops.

It was a sign asking this question: Do you judge a book by it’s cover?

Underneath were a bunch of books wrapped in plain craft or butcher’s paper with only a brief outline of what was contained therein. No title, author info, or imagery to explain the book to a potential buyer.


The mystery book. What exactly was the book underneath this simple wrapping?


Now the wrapping itself does have a certain minimalist esthetic that was well done and I do appreciate. So it’s not like there was no graphic design attention paid to the wrapping. The string was a nice touch. And it’s not like there was no information about the contents being shared. Some argument could be made that everything you really need to make a purchase was laid out plainly for all to see. So it does make one wonder just how relevant all the goings on with cover design are to making a purchase decision. A daring thing for a graphic design website to make. And while I do like the mystery that this experiment created, it probably wouldn’t work for all books. Some books you just really need to know specifics. Especially if you are looking for something pretty specific like a particular volume or author. But it does show there are a lot of other options for book design than what most publishers lean towards.


The mystery book revealed. It was all I could do to wait until I got home after our staycation to find out just what I had bought.


So I bought a book. The price was right ($4 CAN) and I was intrigued by the mystery. Once opened, the book did look pretty interesting (and pretty much matched the expectations presented on the other “cover”) and I look forward to getting to it in the next couple of months. Enjoy!

Drawcember 2019 – Week 1 Update

Drawcember

So it begins. Started off pretty good, but with some Christmas shopping and stuff with the family, I managed to dip into the handful of cheat days almost right away. eagle -eyed followers will notice that a few of the images may be slightly different than what I posted to other social media. I reserve the right to make quick alterations to drawings as I see fit after the fact as this is hopefully going to be a portfolio piece when I am totally finished. Enjoy





Drawcember 2019 – The First Day

Drawcember

So here we go, Drawcember 2019. Everyday, on my Instagram site (and mirrored on my Twitter page) I will be posting quick snaps marked as #Drawcember2019 with a very brief description as to what’s going on. Similar to this picture here:

And what a better way to start off my Drawcember art challenge with this little one’s early start to the day.


At the end of each week, I will post a recap here where I will be posting better scans of each image. As mentioned before, these are drawings only (hence Drawcember) so basically only dry media – no paints or washes. And these will be black and white only. Be easier for me to quickly put something together in the evenings after the kiddos are in bed.

And no real prompts. At least for me. This is an excuse to beef up the Kid Lit portion of my portfolio by drawing out an entire picture book this month. And to also see just how viable doing a drawing challenge is in what is a pretty busy time of the year for most, me included.

And as I pointed out before, I did thumbnails of just about everything I’m drawing the previous month. Here’s an example:

 

I would show something larger, but they are hardly with the effort. They are only there to work out some visual problems before I spend time drawing something out.

So finger crossed, and enjoy!

 

Fantasy Map


As a kid, I loved maps. I especially liked the ones found in my favourite fantasy novels. The first one was the Hobbit (of course) with many more to follow. I loved to trace them out, and try and track down extra information about what would lay beyond the boundaries of the map. Middle Earth was especially bad for that. I’m not sure exactly how many versions of the Book of Lost Tales I slogged through trying to find out more of what went on beyond the boundaries of the epic The Lord of the Rings.

Anyways, I gave a ty at creating a map for a fictional boardgame. Sort of a Risk clone. The map itself was generated over that this site here. I used it pretty much as it. I did get rid of most of the cities and just kept one for each capital. The website produced an SVG that mostly opened up fine in Illustrator. It’s still pretty much vector art. The exception being the parchment texture in the background and the faked in mountain texture. I reset all the type as I seem to have some different ideas as to what is acceptable type design compared to most computer programmers. Oh well. Enjoy!

Custom Titles


Over the years, I’ve had to put together hundreds of different game titles, many of them requiring different title treatments. Often, there isn’t a font on hand that convey what’s needed. Sometimes, all you need is to make a few little changes. Often, you need to draw something out from scratch. These are a few of them.

Sadly, many of these were never used.

All of them had to work fairly small and be easily reproduced using at times a fairly primitive means of reproduction (flexo). Enjoy!

Fantasy Map


I’ve known about this procedural fantasy city/town generator for a while. You can find it here. I decided to try and see if there was anything I could do with it. It all works in your browser. You can export SVG files, so I thought I would give it a try.

Illustrator did have some problems opening up the SVG file, but it seems enough of it made it intact. Working with it was a breeze. I added some colour and then brought everything into Photoshop for further refinement.

I came across an image of some sort of campaign for an RPG game called Pathfinder. It had something in the style I was looking for for to emulate. The name I gave it was a little on the nose, but good enough for a portfolio piece I think. It turned out pretty decently. I had to bring out just about every trick I could think of to get it to work. Believe it or not the type, is mostly just fonts (no need to break out the calligraphy set on this one!), though it did require a few adjustments. Free Google fonts only really get you so far.

My son certainly liked it. He was disappointed that it wasn’t really a game he could play. It was just a picture his Dad drew on the computer.

Oh and here’s a screen shot of my file. Notice the labels on all my layers? Thought you did. Enjoy!


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