My second picture book is publishing this week so here's a post about how the front cover was made. Don't worry, I've spared you the gazillion colour choice screenshots I took!
Back covers are one of my favourite parts of a book. They have all the fun of the front cover with none of the responsibility. I usually leave the back cover until the very end and so far they've always been great fun to do.
|The back cover means more room for silly jokes and shenanigans.|
For me, the front cover is the hardest part of any book I make because it's the first thing that people see. It has to invite readers in and tell them a little bit about what they'll get inside but not everything. You want people to want to pick it up, to be able to see it across a room and equally to be able to read it when it's tiny on their computer screen. This is probably the part of the book that my art director and I spend most time discussing, sending ideas back and forth, usually over a period of a few days, refining as we go.
This was an early idea we had but it never made it any further. We wanted to make sure we introduced both Murray and Vee (pigeon and canary respectively) and also had a little bit of a narrative. I particularly liked how Vee's shadow put her on the poster beside Murray, foreshadowing things to come. I forget why we chose not to use it, but I still like it.
Here are some sketch ideas. I tend to send every little doodle. I find that drawings I'm not sure about can often spark ideas in other people and we can end up using them for something somewhere.
This was the sketch we thought worked best as an idea.
This image made its way onto the case cover beneath the dust jacket.
We tweaked the image a few more times to make it into this. We wanted to keep the noir feel and the implication of danger whilst showing through Vee that this would also be a really fun, silly book too.
The hardest part of this cover was the font. Compared to Life Is Magic this looked like quite a simple book lettering-wise. But with five separate character fonts, the background posters and adverts plus my simple* endpapers, there ended up being a lot more.
(*My endpapers were simple. I wrote this in an email to my editor. I forget how simple they were, but at some point I had a great idea which turned out beautifully and was by no means simple after all.)
Anyway, the cover went through several rounds of hand-lettering. I do a lot of typography for someone who is still very much learning as I go, so my way in is a little like that part in The Shining where Jack Nicholson is typing 'All work and no play make Jack a dull boy' over and over. Like so...
Once I see something I like I'll do my best to refine it. We actually settled on a font, a perfectly nice one, but decided it wasn't strong enough.
Back to the drawing board one more time and we cracked it. I'm so glad we re-did it. The final lettering turned out really nicely, especially with the shiny gold foil finish.
Pigeon P.I. publishes on March 2nd.