Caleb Sylvest

Designer, Developer, Maker of Things

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Dragon Ball Z

For my cover design project I decided to go with a classic favorite of mine, the Dragon Ball Z series. I've always been a comic book fan and Dragon Ball (heck, anything by Akira Toriyama) was one of my favorites. On a side note, one of my other favorite graphic novelist is Osamu Tezuka and I would have chosen something from his work, but as Chip Kidd has designed for a significant amount of Tezuka's work I decided not to compete ;)

Past Designs:

There are dozens of past designs for the Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z manga series. Most are not done very well, though there are interesting aspects to some. They all tend to feature characters, typically from an event in the story of that particular book, and the illustrations are not comic style but a full fledge illustration of some sort. The colors are always fully saturated and typically red, orange, or blue, and strong black. Once the tv show became a hit it seems a requirement was to use the show logo (or altered forms of it) on marketing materials, which is unfortunate because the logo sucks!

I will say that the most interesting of the designs are (what I assume to be) the Japanese versions of the manga.

A Redesign:

I want my design to reflect the nature and attitude of the full series, but with a focus on each book as an individual element of the series. Some interesting design decisions (but not many) have been made in the past, so consider what elements work and learn from the good. But also learn from the bad, why are some of the covers overwhelming and poorly designed?

Things to touch on:

  • simplify/minimalism
  • use comic art
  • avoid over produced artwork
  • orange Dragonball motif
  • think of the series

I realize I'm taking the easy way for the moment, by only designing a front cover without a spine or back cover; or even taking into consideration the full series. But hey, this is a first step. When I get the chance I will revisit, rework what I have, create more covers for other books in the series, and build a series brand standard.

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