The final design

(may be tweaked here and there before printing)

Phase 1

I’ve been asked to Illustrate a book cover. Its a entitled ‘Trophies’ by J.Gunner Grey

Here’s the brief that I’ve been working with:

‘It’s a mystery, and many of the clues are hidden away in the murdered woman’s garret, where she has a hidden office with an old rolltop desk,  and a wardrobe of out-of-date clothes. It’s a dark room, lit by a single, unshaded bulb with the usual long string hanging down.The garret is reached via a long, straight staircase to a plain, unvarnished door without a knob, just a deadbolt set flush with the door’

My first idea was drawing a view with the rolltop desk and doorway looking out to a stairwell. I then thought of cropping the sides of the desk as if looking through a doorway. This led to drawing images on either side like clips from a movie.

I then showed this to the author who was pleased with the idea. She suggested shrinking the two side panels, lowering the stairs and raising the wardrobe to accommodate the title/author name.

I have no computer programmes to make this happen quickly so I resorted to traditional methods of tracing/cutting with craft knife. I actually prefer being more hands on with my work. There are numerous feelings you get from being tactile and working directly with your hands. I am enjoying the possibilities that are emerging from rearranging the parts like a puzzle……

Phase 2

It rained a lot today. This meant I could spend time drawing up another version of the cover.

I felt that the clothes in the wardrobe and the desk were too close together so I reversed the wardrobe.

This reads well as it leads the eye towards the desk and also runs in the same direction as the stairway.

I extended the lines above the door and desk which suggest a garret roof and the bottom line frames the inner image nicely.

I’ve been looking at 1940 detective/crime covers for colour inspiration and am going for the classic green/brown look

Phase 3

Having browsed through the classic novel covers I decieded to spend all morning redesigning the composition.

The crime scene is based in an attic room lit only by a naked bulb. I wanted the edges of the shadows produced by the light source to be a major feature.

I added colours that were appropriate to this genre using colour pencil.

Again, like the Shadbolt park commission I need to touch base with the novelist to get feedback

before continuing with any more colour work.

Phase 4

Gunner Grey got in touch with me and agreed about the stairs so gave it a bit of space. A touch of darkness/shadow was also required to suggest a wall against the stairway. Having added the dark areas I just had to have light dribbling down the stairs from the doorway.

I went for a really light wood for the desk and tried to keep the dress styles and colours in keeping with the grand scheme. I also weighted the composition accordingly, as required in the brief, leaving room at the top left and bottom right for the book Title /Author respectively.

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