Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Evolution of The Unknowns cover

About the book, THE UNKNOWNS.

In a trailer park called Adjacent, next to the Folsom Energy Plant, people have started to vanish, and no one seems to care. At first Lady Di and her best friend, Tom Jones, barely notice the disappearances—until their beloved math tutor, Mrs. Clarke, is abducted, too. Mrs. Clarke has left them clues in the form of math equations that lead them all over the trailer park, through hidden tunnels under “Mount Trashmore,” and into the Folsom Energy Plant itself, where Lady Di and Tom Jones and a gang of other misfits uncover the sordid truth about what’s really happening there.

Benedict's sketches from 1st pass Manuscript.

Sketch I made before book was acquired to help acquire the book.

I had been a fan of Joshua Middleton's work for sometime and as luck would have it he was perfect for this unknown. Here is Josh's first sketch showing a wraparound jacket.

Only one problem. As beautiful as the image was when you separated out just the front cover. It didn't hold up. So in hopes of saving the image I reworked the composition. So that the front cover would work more effectively with the wraparound idea.

To make the cover have a bit of a science fiction, mystery edge I took Benedict's geometric sketches from the interior and add them floating on the jacket to add another layer of visual interest.

After a couple of revisions Josh delivered a color final.

But the colors where to vibrant which lessened the mystery angle of the image.
Thus darken the composition to help highlight the key action to help the viewer.

Next step I started working up type samples. All along keeping in mind,
"how do you make a math story visually interesting." Also at this stage the title changed

However we ran into a speed bum. The cover wasn't working as well as it needed to for the book. Again the mystery angle. With the current cover it wasn't working as we wanted it to. The cover was to character driven for what the story was asking for. So we quickly went back to the drawing board and re worked the idea. Here you my sketch revision. Which is totally not a Jame Bond influence . . . uh yes it is.

On last thing just to make sure the mystery angle was working. Marketing placed the text " A Mystery" on the cover. Which turned out nicely.

Next and final step place the cover copy in place. I like to place text in a way that fits into the world of the art. Complementing rather than intruding.

Bonus Math Problem!


Lauren said...

I love how you're posting the whole process - it's incredibly interesting to see how many revisions a book's cover goes through. And how the smallest details truly matter.

Kristi Valiant said...

I love this final cover, especially the angled, glowing text, and the fact that the two characters are in shadow goes so well with the name "The Unknowns." Thanks for sharing your thought process as an Art Director.

Anonymous said...

Hey Chad,
Nice process post. Man, many of those sketches I would have made to tell you the truth. I liked the second pass quite a bit. The more it went for a sci-fi mass market book, the more iconic it got, to the point of silhouetted shapes almost.
They all work though.
Fun to see.
All the best,
Tim O'Brien

Jana said...

I LOVE seeing this process. Your site is great. You have the coolest job!!