Monday, November 24, 2008

One scarlet letter concept sketch

Okay, so I'm doing a series of covers for Penguin American Classics. This is a concept sketch for a cover for the The Scarlet Letter. The type is very rough and misaligned, and the first "T" is an experiment for capitals, but that's the basic gist of the it, style-wise. I was trying to subtly show the secret relationship between Hester Prynne and the young minister, I forget his name. I feel like focusing on the actual scarlet letter "A" is kind of overdone. Instead I would incorporate the scarlet in the color scheme. This is only the first sketch I've done so let me know if the concept itself is lame, or if not, what could be improved with this one. I'll do more though. Also, no color yet, in case you didn't notice.


jaime said...

It is great that you have jumped right in here.

This is quite finished for a concept sketch, and I mostly mention it because you probably could have come up with 3-4 different ideas quickly in the time it took you to achieve this level of finish on one. Just a point to note- you'll save lots of time and energy generally by trying to work less finished on the very initial stages. I'm often guilty of the same thing, but at least consider it.

I'm going to be picky in my assessment.

OK- so I'm going to say first that this image is fine. The composition is nice, the type is legible, and you have created a cover design. I do believe generally here that you may be giving the client what you think they want, which is a cover that pretty much looks like a regular cover you might see in the store. But it looks pretty standard, and there is nothing that is making it particulary eye-catching or unique on a shelf. You have thought about not being cliche with the "A" , and perhaps you are right to avoid this, but I think that you may want to start "big Picture" and move to smaller picture on this.

All three covers should feel united in some way, and therefore I'd consider that not being an afterthought. I'd think about creating from a design point of view first... will the text go across the top? Will there be an intricate border around text centered in the middle of the cover for all three? Will they all have a border around the whole image? Hand-drawn graphic elements can be nice start and unite your images. Alternatively, will each be rendered in an entirely different color, so that The Scarlet Letter is all in scarlet, another cover is all in blues, another in greens, etc. ? There are ways that are not simply design that can tie these immediately together, but consider bold moves before small strokes and set up the design that will carry you through all three.

Also- your font is very traditional- it is expected, while perhaps a new generation of classics readers would be interested in seeing something so fresh that those who may have been bored by the prospect of reading such a book may now want to engage. Basically, these classics covers should be so good and intriguing that I will walk into Borders and decide that I can't believe I've never read War and Peace and proceed to the counter, copy in hand. Well- that is what the client would love, anyways.

This is a tall order, yes, and something seasoned illustrators would consider a challenge. But I don't want to have you keep going on this as is if I believe you can get more out of this. I've seen this from you on a number of things, so I think there's a good solution out there. I'll e-mail you some covers as visual explanation in case you are completely confused by this comment...

Thanks for posting! I'll do my best to check this blog often before next class for all of you who are taking the time to post progress!

Matt said...

Good assessment. I completely agree. Thanks!