Divergent's in the Details | Skillshare Projects



Divergent's in the Details

JAN. 27:

So I know that I'm coming in late to the game with my drop cap design, but when I began reading Divergent, I couldn't stop there. I had to finish the trilogy - not just to sate my own curiosity, but also so that I could see the complete story. The characters aren't fully fleshed out by the end of Roth's first book, so I was compelled to read Insurgent and Allegiant right afterward to have a more wholistic reading experience - and I'm immensely glad I did. Although Divergent itself is a captivating page-turner, the trilogy as a whole is what drives your empathy for the characters.

And now that I've finished my reading/research, I've begun plotting out how I'd like to approach the "R" (for Veronica Roth, the trilogy's young author). I'd like for the R to be representative of the trilogy's heroine, Tris, from whose point of view the story unfolds (at least, the majority of it). By incorporating nods to her story and struggle, the manifestation of her fears, the tools she utilizes throughout the series, etc., I hope to encapsulate the overall feel of Roth's trilogy.

We'll see if I'm successful or not in this simplified character study.

To start, I made a list of themes and reoccuring ideas of the series, as well as a separate, shorter list of visuals that became symbolic to me as I read.

Although that's a long list of themes, I intend to focus primarily on the instruments and manifestations of Tris' fears, because her struggle to understand and overcome them is integral to the development of her character throughout the story.

I also kept two quotes from the story (one from Insurgent and the second from Allegiant) that resonated with me:

"I think we cry to release the animal parts of us without losing our humanity. Because inside me is a beast that snarls, and growls, and strains toward freedom…and above all, toward life. And as hard as I try, I cannot kill it."


"Since I was young, I have always known this: Life damages us, every one. We can't escape that damage. But now, I am also learning this: We can be mended. We mend each other."

With all of this in mind, I started sketching (SPOILER ALERT - if you haven't read the Divergent trilogy yet, then you may want to skip over the call-outs & descriptions around my sketches):

After looking over all my sketches, I pulled out three concepts that I think could be worhwhile:

Concept 1 -

This concept revolves around the hypodremic syringes that the characters in the Divergent series use to combat their fears, control each other, and more. The serums utilized in the books range from pacifying to lethal, and play a huge part in the idea of experimentation that the series focuses on (in the latter books). I also included a nod to RR crossing signs with the circle X behind (Tris' character rides on trains a LOT), as well as a line work feather to tie in the manifestation of her fear as crows. 

Concept 2 -

This concept plays heavily off of the Dauntless' love of tattoos (the faction that Tris chooses to be a part of). The letter itself is done in a tattoo-esque style, with pinstriping linework that incorporates the all-too-familiar hypodermic syringes that the Dauntless use to face their fears.

Concept 3 -

This concept uses the metaphor of a dead crow to represent Tris and the overall loss and pain experienced by all of the characters in the books.

Not only do crows surface multiple times in the heroine's fears, they are also strongly symbolic in literature, usually as harbingers of death or sorrow (both of which are right on the mark for this story). The added detail of including a metal band on the crow's ankle ties in directly with the plot of Roth's trilogy, alluding to the fact that the people in the story are not only captive, but also a part of a grander experiment.

I initially thought that a linework letter with little details like a hypodermic needle or a feather hidden inside would be the direction I'd want to go (like concept 1). But after looking over my sketches, it seems to me that the best concept to embody the Divergent story is that of the dead crow.

I'm also toying with the idea of including tracery line work underneath the crow, in the form of incomplete train tracks. Not only are trains a large fixture in Roth's Divergent world, but they are also a means of escape and freedom and a new life for Tris. And with the incomplete tracks serving as a parallel for Tris' incomplete (cut-short) life, the escapist element of the train tracks may even be read as Tris' escape from the sorrow and loss her life had filled with.

I'll have to look again with fresh eyes in the morning before I finalize my direction.

FEB. 7:

After walking away from my concepts, sitting with them a while, walking away again and returning, I decided to proceed with concept 3. But instead of taking it straight into the computer, I went ahead and did some follow-up sketches to more accurately plot out my approach to the drop cap design. I wound up with two sketches that I liked the look of, one more close in to my original concept and one a tick off.

Option A:

In order to more clearly define an "R" shape, I used pebbles on the ground around the corpse to fill in the letter form. While this clearly illustrates that the bird is dead on the ground, I'm not sure if it's as powerful a visual as my second option below.

Option B:

This option is the closest of the two in to my original concept. But rather than trying to force the crow's position into the confines of the drop cap, I decided to have the letter and crow interact instead. By looping the R around the bird's neck and shoulders this way, it helps convey the idea of sacrifice and bearing a burden (both of which are important themes throughout the Divergent trilogy). I believe this allows the posture of the bird to be more powerful, and opens the "R" up to representation as a broken DNA strand (linking the drop cop that much more to the book it represents). 

I may decide to digitize both versions just to see which translates best. But at the moment, I'm leaning toward option B.


After debating which option for a few hours, I decided to go ahead and go with my gut and render option B, closest to my original concept. I was also very keen to include the DNA strand in my final "R" because the idea of genetics (specifically, damaged genetics) is vital to Roth's trilogy.

Here is where my cover currently stands:

I chose my color palette based upon the book as well. Whenever Tris is tested for which faction she best fits into, instead of testing into one, she tested positive for three: Dauntless, Abnegation and Erudite. In Divergent, each faction identifies with a color. Dauntless = black, Abnegation = grey, Erudite = blue. So when trying to select 3 colors that best represent Tris and the Divergent series, the answer was already in front of me. I also believe that the overall dark color scheme helps convey the mood of the series, with a bright, almost unnatural blue highlighting the damaged DNA strand that forms the "R."

I'm actually feeling pretty good about this drop cap - however, I'm going to walk away for tonight so I can critique with fresh eyes tomorrow.

FEB. 10:

After making a couple minor tweaks and designing a corresponding spine, I think I'm satisfied with where my Divergent drop cap wound up:

Absolutely loved working on this project. Thanks, Jessica!


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