Illustrated Book Spines | Two Tale Tellers | Skillshare
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11 Lessons (33m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Some context

    • 3. The project

    • 4. Some examples

    • 5. Step 1 – Choosing a book

    • 6. Step 2 – Concept & sketches

    • 7. Step 3 – Drawing

    • 8. Step 4 – Color & finish

    • 9. Step 5 – Typography & layout

    • 10. Results

    • 11. Final tips & farewell


About This Class

In this class, you'll learn a few things about the function and communicative potential of that —sometimes forgotten— part of a book: the spine, and you'll use your creative skills to design one for your favorite book.

A design and illustration exercise with restrictions, using book spines, their function and communicative potential as a creative context. 

This class is especially addressed to:

  • Illustrators
  • Graphic Designers
  • Book designers
  • Creative people willing to face interesting challenges

For creating your project you'll need:

  • Your creativity
  • Paper and pencil to sketch your ideas
  • The analogical or digital techniques you prefer to produce your final illustrations

My name is Raúl Gil and I'm the 50% of Two Tale Tellers. I'm an illustrator and designer from Barcelona and I work in any medium in which images, words and/or interaction combine to tell stories, usually inhabited by characters that transmit life and emotion. Here are some samples of my work:


You can see more work here.

Music used in this class:

'Fearless First' and 'Inspired' by Kevin MacLeod (License CC BY) / via


1. Introduction: Hi, I'm Raul from two tellers and I'm an illustrator and decider. In this class, you'll make the sign exercise with restrictions given by a specific context. The spine of a book. You'll use illustration to create an interesting, attractive and effective books part. We will reflect on the function and potential off that sometimes forgotten part of the book the spine and will create one around your favorite book. Spines are usually very limited in space, and the time we dedicate to analyze and understand the information they contain is extremely short. The main idea will be to escape from the most elementary conception off title blast off his name that most books use toe offer solutions that will feel their mission but at the same time allow you to explain something interesting, attractive and stimulating for a possible reader using some form official narration or illustration. All these encouraged by the restrictions off this very limited former. This glass is half way between the conceptual exploration illustration and storytelling, and you will need much more than a pencil and paper to elaborate your ideas and sketches and the tool to prefer to create to find the droppings this class especially interesting for graphic designers and illustrators. But of course, every creative mind is invited to join the process. So if you're ready, let's go. 2. Some context: books points out the part I like most about the book. I know it. Amazing. Weird covers are usually the most interesting part, and with the best potential to communicate something to the reader. Not all books have 300 or 400 patients, so they tend to be thin, and the visual information they can contain is limited, so the approach is usually quite receptive and functional. Proper topography. Good contrast, is it right? But it's also an impersonal and on identifying approach. In an extensive collection, it's difficult to discriminate some books for mothers. Ultimately your personal library or in your favorite bookstore. You will have dozens or hundreds off book spines in front of you. And surely to be responsible for doing that. Several gesture slighting that book off the shelf to better appreciate its cover an interior or what will allow you to identify the book you are looking for in your personal library Continue rate. The first element in the contact with a given work in many variety context. I think that just for that they deserve some attention, So consider this glass as a brief and expletive. The sign and illustration exercise with restrictions restrictions given by the book Spine Context and is well know these limitations can lead to interesting and creative solutions. With this in mind, let's talk about your project. 3. The project: the project will consist in choosing your favorite book or one in which you have interest and propose an alternative spine for it. Free off a pre defined our direction. Your mission with this project will be to use illustration toe Offer a little story through the spine beat Very cryptic, brief and conceptual being descriptive, inspirational whatever proposal that conveys something interesting to the readers or potential buyers off the book in that tiny space in front of them, calling their attention and offering useful information at the same time. When publishing your project, you can upload your flat design as a simple image or integrated on a photo or more cap. If you don't want to take your project beyond the conceptual and sketch face perfect, simply share your ideas in the form of a sketch. Is that the low All your fellow students to visualize your solution? You can take our project as an example in case you want to follow a saving our structure. Now that the nature off the project is clear, let's look at some examples that can inspire you 4. Some examples: if you don't have interesting examples at the fingertips, yes, go what their visit, your favorite bookstore or library and have a good time contemplating word all the designers have done before you for the sign of a book, it will probably surprise you and help you value the care put by professionals into details , often invisible to most. Let's look at some examples yes, as a possible inspiration for your project. Batmen animated things Very famous book Compartment Animated was assigned by Chip Kit and percent a remarkable spine with the title off the serious interspersed with the front door frame animation of Batmen, the white, red and black palate is quite striking. The handwritten and texture title provides a tactile, energetic pipe. The French of Rain badman makes total sense in its context. It's altogether functional, recognizable and also exciting. McCready's help others thesis Spine was assigned for a compilation off my tennis comic strips. It's quite remarkable in simplicity light yellow with black horizontal typography and an illustration that this simple but very descriptive off my dance work with the drawing off a woman in an everyday situation. Quite unflattering, almost an unexpected shirt. It's very recognizable and it finds the work that contained inside perfectly something in the blood. This is the Spanish division off the book by David Skull. Spine is completely red, with bold, very readable white and black typography and an illustrated both right off Bram Stoker. It has impact. It's impossible not to recognize the author of Dracula in it, and it's definitely appropriate for the title. Stephen King is redesigned by the signer Collapse Hastey recently from books by seven King , using black elements of each work burnished over mate black and accompanied by an iconic white silhouette in every spine. Dark and silver without resorting to resource is over, exploited in the genera bottom, less belly button What my favorite books finds ever. A clever and daring use of a book, spine full of text and small illustrations that reflect the character off the work. Inside. Being weird, comical and also intriguing. The good examples are never ending. You can also find inspiration on the Internet, for example, of being dressed or instant room. So go on, get some inspiration, fine, good references, and if you feel ready, let's start with the actual creative process 5. Step 1 – Choosing a book: we'll begin as usual in our classes by making a decision we must use. What were we want to use for our project? It could really be a random choice, but I recommend that you start from one off this two scenarios a A book that you'll off that inspires you and that you have read several times. But it has never had a particularly interesting graphic solution. It's your opportunity to remedy the situation or be a book that you can see they're difficult to represent. Explain to encourage using the spine. That is especially tough challenge for our Example Project. We want to present to different options based on an equal works on one hand. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and on the other, Salem's lot by sticking to very different novels that will make leave together a spot of the same collection. Once Johnson, it's time to start thinking about possible solutions. So now relax. Take your time, choose your book, and when you're ready, I'll be waiting for you in the next video 6. Step 2 – Concept & sketches: First of all, we must be sure that we understand the work we have in our hands. Reading the book is not completely necessary, but it's recommendable. I will start with Frankenstein. Subtitle off. The original work was the modern Prometheus. So in a way it's a revision of the original myth of Prometheus, which, according to some classical versions, was a creator of human being using clay to model it. Three idea of a man playing got stealing of sacred fire from the divinity. Creating life through his scientific knowledge is the fundamental basis of Frankenstein. All the other Everett readings can be drawn from it. Such is the potential perversion off scientific development or even in a leg ary off pregnancy. Considering Mary Shelley's personal situation when she brought the book. So we'll use the Promethean concept or the man playing God at the center, and then we'll ask three important questions first. Awful what, in this case, the answer could be creating life breaking natural loss to find that affinity. The second question is how through science, forbidden science, using medicine and human knowledge of biology and the technology off that era, and finally, why and the answer is basically right. Arrogance. For Franken, signed Life is a secret toe, a mosque, so I think I'll start using the creature because it's the most iconic element in the story . But it's also the result off the what his aspect and nature are the once provided bythe how and his personal suffering links. I'd rightly with a y, so we'll try to stop from the creature and see if we can represent threat some off the deepest answers to the previous questions. First, try to represent a very rough human body, almost dissected, like in an old medicine book. I'll drove this corpse in pieces, filling a big part of the spine with technical notes surrounding it. That could be a first version. It really talks about science, medicine and experimentation, but it's a little emotional here. The creature is anonymous and not much the pieces of flesh. It's a possibility, but CME to the 2nd 1 will use a specific part of a creature so that we can refer sent something more readable and iconic. Remember, we have a very greediest space. If we use less and bigger elements, it will be easier to read them so we'll try drawing hand. It's obviously a dead hand. We can use cables, names and other details. Seven hands the experimentation factor. So once again we have a very character, less element, something better readable and recognizable that talks about the what under how, but not so much about the white, which is the essence of the story. Let's try something else will try to fears the previous options with a single element, beak and readable but showing more humanistic prate. Now we can see a face, toe, eyes, a human expression, and we can play with that to show some emotion. Some feelings through the case. It's a man made face, but it's not that anymore. All the stages and scars will talk about the very primitive science behind them, but we also have this human broken face. So now we have three possible options with their pros and cons. I think the 1st 1 is memorable and visually appealing, but too far from the viewer. It's not very emotional. The 2nd 1 is alluring, especially with additional medical element in it, and it's easy to read but very in animals. So I'll go with the 3rd 1 and see if we can use those facial traits to communicate something deeper. So with this, we have something to start with and before, starting with the actual throwing will go to Salem's lot and repeat this short initial process. So Salem's lot. This is a story with vampires, yes, but as usual, instead thinking's novels, this horror component is not the most important element. The noble presents a remarkable sense of paranoia to was that supposed evil that is contaminating and infiltrating in the life of a small city. Some readings off the work off, her contacts related to the Cold War and that cultural manners coming from the outside. So the noble percent. Salem's lot is a small city in which that strange things are happening. Animals have started, I in strange situations. People seem to die and then walk again, and it's quickly spreading. An old house seems to be the center of all the evil and also the origin of the protagonists , fears and trauma. So the protagonist is what connects the house in Salem's lot. So I asked out by drawing a very normal city with a menacing shadow, covering its streets and forming hand that hand in control, growing original hand. Using the very rigid structure of the street could be a talent, But here's of his idea. Now we could focus on a single element. For example, the house or even a smaller one, like the front Oh way could identify the door as the entrance. So all that and known plays in which bad things happened and are still happening so we could show something dark and almost liquid, making out maybe blood, maybe physical manifestation off that evil that will flow into the city. Wait for one show with the house and the CD at the same time. It would be great, but that would imply a lot of tiny details in a very tight space. We'll use of tiredness instead as a representation off Salem's lot, confronted with House ultra offense separating the house from the exterior. And perhaps we could fuse a different situation in the noble, in which some impaled dogs appear, is a clear sign of off evil reciting beyond defense. Another possibility. All the more literal could be representing an evil silhouette in the sky emanating from the house. But I think it's not that interesting. Perhaps too explicit. - But having this human component on it, it's good. And I think I'll try to evolve this specific idea in the next step. I also like the fact that it's quite different from what we did with Franken stand, and it will provide some variety and also a challenge unifying them stylistically analogy how we solved our project. 7. Step 3 – Drawing: time to formalize the sketches in the form off. Actual troubling, since miserable method is not important thing in this video will synthesize the process in an accelerated manner. Let's see how the self our proposal so now that we know what to draw, will focus on drawing on Lee. I create a box simulating the outline of the spine and use it as a frame. Let's start creating this scarred face. The I will have a special interest, so it's quite centered and the rest of details are presented around it. The first thing they notice is that the face seems to human too pleasant. So in a second, fast scared, I add some rough details that make it uglier, like ruffled hair in a deformed cream ace. It's also bigger, so the imperfections and the gays are even more visible in the Thirsk It. I tried to just get his nose off and see what happens with more some like phase, but the results were not very satisfying. Maybe too much so. I duplicated and then realize that maybe it's more interesting toe actually cattle illustration in pieces and assembled them with some level of displacement, so it looks like literal basis pileup. The result. It's more evident we can see a broken face literally broken. It's human enough to transmit some feelings, but monstrous enough to be groupie. Now that I'm happy with the dropping, I clean it up so every detail is clear. And once we have a clean drawing, it's easier to colorant what I do before. Actually coloring the illustration is to make a raft color test something that takes seconds, and it allows us to visualize the results as it will be approximately different greens, yellows and browns for the different parts of phase the hair this cars as we have more d does. Everything starts to be clear once they have an approximation, I play with you and separation to obtain other possible pallets, some more greenish bluish readies. And if it's necessary, I duplicate the spine changing colors and then compare the results. So now we have three battered possibilities, and with this hour dropping and color tests for the Frankenstein industry, ation is done nice. Before producing, the final illustration will jump to our second spine for Salem's lot. Let's see, so we'll start drawing the protagonist and all the surrounding practice in order to avoid an excessively symmetrical aspect, I draw irregular branches and avoid procreate cemetery help. Once the main shapes out there, we can focus on a small details. Let's go now with house. I'll draw it quite symmetrical and regular, in contrast with other details in the illustration. When we paint the final, Darwin would make it look less rigid by using some rough rashes and now face a program that sometimes arises. I see that the amount of details it's really heavy and this illustration, this more looking bailed on defense would be hard to distinguish from the fence, and its figure is complex and not very clear. So I decide to use a different approach. I'll make more evident the cemetery of the house against a more organic look off the lower part by adding an evil character to this sign off the fence. So it acts as a separator between Salem's lot and the origin off everything bad happening in the city. Like if it was that this navigation off evil reciting in the house, and now let's find a color palette for it. Let's quickly dropped some strokes with browns and greens and stylish. Some contrast on. Of course, experimenting with different alternatives is always get. We can compare them and mix, um, or choose the defensive one a choice will make in the following video. Let's go. 8. Step 4 – Color & finish: Now that the winds are ready, it's time for us to start a blind color and finishing the illustrations will use in our final side. First of all, I create a hybrid solution document. So I have a big original that I can scale down and they go beyond basic color test and the lineup refused in our last video. No, we have a clear reference visible. I doubly get the line work and scale it up. Radiance a transparency and start coloring. Following our color sample, everything will take more time as its old bigger and the details are many more. I start configuring the big masses off base color. Let's call them flats. I picked the necessary colors from the sample and keep building all these masses. Once we have the color base will be able to work on the details spot by part. Ah, use a couple of rashes for all the terror strokes big and small and then two more for some texture. It's not much, but in general enough to do the work. I'll add some notes to this video, recommending some of my favorite procreate. Fresh is. You can also check our class twisting character sign containing more details on brushes and processors. After experimenting for a while, I decided to try something, darkening the scarer off the eye and see if the monster gets more intimidating. But after a couple of tests, it's obvious we have whites. Clara, for a reason. The eyes are more visible in readable when there's a higher contrast between the iris and this Clara. So I keep the original version and this is it. We have our first illustration ready to be placed in the layout and at some typography. Let's go now to our Salem's lot. Final illustration. Although the warmest palate is beautiful, I go with the reddish one. It's probably closer to the night, and it brings some blood reminiscence. So first of all, I draw the container defining the spine and start separating the most important color masses. When the main blocks hard to find, the illustrations starts to bob up, and now it's a matter of focusing on the small details. We're working on a smaller elements, like the house. I used the same brushes with same size, so the amount of detail I can pour in them is limited by the brushes themselves. It makes him limiting. But in my case, it's my way to control what I can and can't to do in this context without compromising the general contestant C. When working with symmetries, remember, brought creates automatic guides your safe a lot of time. Consider a swell the size of the final Spain. If we are talking about with off not more than two or three centimeters, working on an exaggerated amount of details that later will invisible or even hard to reproduce, you're basically wasting time. Try to focus your efforts on the most visible part and dedicate only the necessary time and care to the rest. - So with final details in defense, we are almost ready to go. Let's now introduce the typographical information. 9. Step 5 – Typography & layout: time to enter the typographical information. If you have decided that it exists, the logical thing is that you do. Unless the level of risk you want, assume with the spine of your book is considerable. If you dare to present a proposal that identifies of work without using words, go for it in my gaze. I won't assume that the layout has been designed with a double in design. Illustrator is another completely suitable option, but I personally prefer in the science typographic treatment. Once we have the layout, we will place the final illustration in the box arranged for it. In my case, I will allow the spine to penetrate to slightly into the cover and the back over being another feature off our graphic solution. Now that the images and plays well at other elements on one hand to tell Taylor symbol as an identifier of the seal off the collection and on the other that they barfi in this case will take into account. The titles and the names of the others are variable, so we'll use a scheme that allows a variable extension without being problematic for the design. Remember that you didn't have to arrange the topography along the spine that there are great examples off topography arrange so that we can read it naturally, are necessary. Fund. And there's your medical sense. Harris, with a good contrast to the more organic finish off illustrations, the color for the author's name is extracted from the illustration. Now we only need to repeat the process for the other one. In this way, we have our files ready and our spines finished. Now let's briefly analyze the results as objectively as we can. 10. Results: what that's our proposal over over a simple one with title and author is that improvement in any way? Our Frankenstein's spine presents the title off the work and the author clearly, although with sacrifice the size off the typography in favor of demonstration that covers a good part off the surface, it's still quite readable. Do you? To the high color contrast, the illustration shows that I observing us with mixture off fear and anger, confusion, perhaps the same look that the creature should have shown when he first upset his creator when he realized that his entire existence was essentially the result of human selfishness . His entire phase is enamel gamma office teach skin is CASS that rough work for man playing God? On the other hand, that human are is a highly alluring visual element, and it's hard to ignore the creatures case in the spine. For Salem's lot, the approach is different, although a stylistically close and known evil is a spreading at the seas through the streets of a humble, calm city emanating from an ancient and ominous house, with a protagonist facing that evil in his own past. At the same time, in the name of Salem's lot. I think that's a lot of useful information and emotional conceptual impact in a very tiny space. We can say that we fulfilled the purpose of the project. Of course, we could enter into conversations around a stylistic choices, but we start from the assumption that in a real project you would have seen hired because the person responsible for it or the art director has considered it appropriate in my case because of nature off my work, these proposals would probably fit well in a youth collection or for young adults approaching more serious or obscure works. Now it's your turn to show that you can make the most original and interesting book spine for that selected work, tear up and remember to share your results with the rest of us. 11. Final tips & farewell: all this creative process could be applied to this sign off a book over with less restrictions, but I encourage you to think about the sign of the spine in a specific way. Although a tacit correction with sign off the cover. For example, in our Frankenstein book, the cover could be the face of Victor Frankenstein. Contemplating his creation set, the reader was a monster looking towards its creator. So the spine and the cover offered different and complementary point of view off the same sin one external and one internal. I encourage you to use this kind of creative dynamic. As you've seen, The purpose of this class has been tripled one hand, reflecting on the function and potential off the spine of a book on the other to embark ourselves in a greatly process limited by a very radius format and some their specific meats. And finally, having fun and learning by doing. I hope this class has invited you to pay special attention to the spines of books that you can find in bookstores or libraries. Learn what you can from the signers who found an interesting solution to present that word to the reader. I hope you enjoy this process in the result and share your project. Let's feel the project sections with beautiful books. And now a couple of additional note you go to this point of the class police leave our revere Dad will help us improve our classes in the future. Remember to take a look at our project to get you. And of course, leave has any comments or questions you have and it will help you. And if you're interested in our classes, follow us on Instagram and Twitter and also in sculpture so that we can notify you every time we publish any class. Thanks for your time and attention. And see you soon in a new class. Hopefully very soon. Take care.