Welcome to your Final Project & Exam for Art 1!
This lesson comes from an amazing book by Mary Kate McDevitt called Illustration Workshop: Find Your Style, Practice Drawing Skills, and Build a Stellar Portfolio.
Create an illustration for the cover of a book of your choosing. Books covers should have an eye-catching illustration that speaks to the book’s content, a legible title, and the author’s name.
The biggest challenge is capturing the essence of the book while keeping it simple and eye-catching. Choose a book that you are familiar with, and you’ll be able to pull more unique defining moments from the book rather than the more obvious parts. Find a common thread from the book that could be the key to your unique book cover concept.
What to include:
Original illustrations for a book cover include Title & Author’s Name
Specifications: create a 5×7” design or something proportionate to that
Create a set of 3 book covers that work together as a series
Here’s a series of books by Risa Rodil:
Art direction considerations:
- What’s the book’s title?
- What is the book’s genre?
- Who is the main character?
- How does the book make you feel?
- Who is the book’s primary audience? (kids, teens, design-minded people, creative people?)
Brainstorm: Make a list or a mind map of as many motifs as you can think of from the book to include in your illustration. Checkmark the winners, leave the losers!
Color: think of a color scheme and stick to it for all the books in the series.
Visual Brainstorm: To jump-start your sketching, choose an important object or character in the book and draw it in two different styles.
Develop your concept!
Lettering: For a simple yet impactful approach to your cover, make the lettering the main focal point of the cover, and shape your illustrations around it.
Subtlety: Use a subtle nod to the plot and characters. For example, illustrate the characters in silhouette & paint on a partially painted fence.
Abstract: Consider creating an abstract illustration to tie in to the concept. For example, a mystery novel could have layers of shadows that create an abstract design.
Rough out at least 8 thumbnails. Be sure to draw your thumbnails in proportion to the dimensions of the final piece, but at a smaller scale (5″ x 7″). Focus on concept and layout. Limit your time to thirty minutes to avoid getting too caught up in details. You can also test out tools and color palettes here.
This loose sketching stage is all about coming up with an idea you’ll be excited about and confident to execute, so push yourself to explore as many variations as possible. If you’re feeling stumped, sketch a few iterations of your thumbnails from the previous step.
Rough Sketch No. 1
Pick one of your thumbnails to rough out in greater detail. Sketch lightly so you can make adjustments as you go along, and refer to your brainstorming to make sure you aren’t missing important details and ideas. Don’t worry about making this sketch perfect, but take notes as you work that point out what you like and what needs adjustment. These notes will be helpful when you create a revised sketch.
Rough Sketch No. 2
Now choose a different thumbnail to rough out in greater detail. It’s important to present at least 2 options for an illustration assignment. This will help you push yourself to create stronger concepts, and a client will want to see more than one option, too.
Choose one of your sketches to take to final and redraw it. This is your opportunity to make final edits before jumping into the final with permanent ink. You can also test out tools and establish a color palette to use for your final illustration in the space here. If you feel nervous about adding final color, try a warm-up and use the materials you plan to use for your final.
Once you move past this page, decision-making relating to concept and details is over! This handy checklist will help you make absolutely sure that your sketch is ready for the final stage.
- Have you adhered to the brief while making it your own style?
- Have you explored all possibilities for concept, style, and imagery?
- Did you take time to LOOK at your sketches with a fresh eye?
- Did you check spelling? No stone unturned?
- Have you CHALLENGED yourself?
- DO YOU LOVE IT?
- Are you SO EXCITED to start you stopped reading at #2?
- If you answered YES to all questions, you are ready to move to FINAL!
Use drawing paper from me to create your final illustration. Use your selected materials – ink, colored pencil, whatever you’ve decided best suits the project – and apply your chosen color palette. Most importantly, have fun with it!