Here’s a glimpse at the finished book!
Once the content was done, it was important to give as much thought to the outside of the book as to the inside. Indeed, the cover being what is first seen by the reader, it needed to be appealing and pleasant to the eye. The back cover and spine also needed to be designed. Experimenting with one of my drawings, I found a style that I really liked for the cover.
However I wanted the work to be exclusively made by me, background included. Initially the cover had been made with a portrait format in mind. The title was hiding the donkey’s ears and would have needed amending had I chosen this format.
I kept the colour scheme and the drawing, and tried a different approach. The finished cover is as follows:
For the back cover, I had a few possibilities. Either, I could have written a short synopsis, the final quote of the tale of Donkey Skin (this particular quote can actually be found on the last page of the book) or another drawing. I didn’t want to give too much away on the cover, therefore, I wasn’t too keen on putting another one of my drawings.
For the front cover, I had had an idea which included a donkey’s eye and the princess reflected inside. However, I had dismissed the idea, preferring the chosen drawing instead. When looking at possible designs for the back cover, I decided to explore this idea once more. The artwork is a mixture of a photograph and a drawing. The eye is actually a photo taken by me, of the family horse. With a little editing on photoshop, it was made to look like a donkey’s eye. I then added one of my pencil sketches inside the eye.
The artwork is strong enough to support the back cover without having any additional words written on it.
I had initially decided on doing the book at A4 format. However, looking at other works, I realised that perhaps, a bigger format would be better to show the drawings. I tried printing a few pages in A3 but on the contrary, the format was much too big. It did not look like a professional book – it felt more like a portfolio.
After further research, I decided to use a slightly larger format than A4. Although I had decided on having the page set up as portrait, I went back to the landscape format. The size would have been 24cm by 30,5cm. Unfortunately, because the format was bigger than A4, the cost of the book would have been that of an A3 project containing 150 pages. The cost being too high, I went back to looking at A4. The layout of the pages were already determined and having 3cm less for the height was not as big a problem as I had feared. The drawings done in portrait needed to be shrunk but the landscape drawings fit the pages perfectly. Indeed, it would have been nice to see the work on a slightly wider format, but the A4 format enabled me to have a hard cover book printed at an affordable price.
Here are a few of the finished pages:
Putting all my work together in a finished book has been an interesting, insightful experience. However, it hasn’t been easy. I was very lucky to have been assisted by a professional graphic designer who specialises in this sort of work. My supervisor Deborah Kerby and her brother David Kerby were very helpful in helping me make the finished book that is currently being printed.
With the final layout done, I now look back at the first pages I had done a few months ago and realise that David Kerby has taught me a lot about putting together a book that not only looks professional, but that is also pleasant to read. I feel that I am now aware of the things to consider when designing a book, and that I now know some tips to make drawings look better on a printed page.
I had explored different looks for my book early on in my MA. Back in June 2014, my posts on the characters for the fantasy genre had been done with the book in mind. I had imagined that this could be the way the book would look. Then, closer to the end of the project, I revisited the possibilities for the layout. Here are a few examples of the first possible layouts I had thought of using. The texts are not relevant or correct as, back then, I was only trying to see how the images would fit on the page. (These are double-page spreads).
(Above, very first layouts done in 2014)
(Above: first chapter intro page – the size of the font is too big. The drawing should be facing the inside of the book and is generally too close to the gutter)
The texts were too bold, the background was too prominent and there lacked order. There needs to be unity throughout the book, to keep the reader interested and to help them understand exactly how everything works.
As with the space station, I wanted the costumes to be bright and to give life to the metal structure of the environment. It was also a way to contrast with the vast emptiness of outer space. The clothes should look futuristic, with elements from today’s fashion. However, I wanted to have a go at incorporating older period features to a modern outfit, to give it the fairy tale touch needed to remind the audience of the origins of the story.
The period elements I decided to use would date back to the Rococo era. I incorporated Rococo patterns to parts of the Princess’ costume. I tried to keep it subtle so that the costume is still believable as a futuristic outfit.
For the hairstyle, I had the idea of having a strange hair cut combining long and short strands of hair. Why not also add a bit of colour? It is such a fashionable thing to do nowadays – to change hair colour. After sketching the character, I decided that adding a strange headdress would complete the overall look perfectly.
With the space station’s design in mind, I also sketched several possible looks for space ships that would come and go from the landing platforms. I wanted the space station to be constantly animated by ships arriving and departing. However, I wanted the ships to follow a particular design that would make them look as if they were meant to fit on the platforms – a sort of completion for the design.
I looked at fish and other sea creatures for a streamlined organic look. The ships wouldn’t just fly through space, they would move in a flowing manner that makes them look almost alive.
These ships would be recognised as being friendly visitors. Hence, when the audience suddenly spot a space ship different to these, they immediately know that the visiting ship is not from around here. Is it lost? Are they only passing through? But more importantly, are they friend or foe?
Before achieving the final design for the space station, I explored the idea of having it partly built on a meteor. I thought that it could be interesting to mix organic shapes with man-made features.
I tried to imagine an original shape for the meteor by looking at different things, mainly, the human skeleton. The skull is interesting because it has many different aspects. However, it is always a little unsettling to look at. I tried to imagine a space station built on a meteor which would overall look like a human skull.
With arches derived from teeth and a labyrinth of buildings in the eye socket, I thought that it could end up working well. While I liked the idea, I decided to got back to my previous one, finding the skull too distressing for a fairy tale adaptation. Perhaps it could still be used as the lair of dangerous alien life-forms seeking to destroy human kind?