Book Cover Design: Just So Stories Process & Reflection

The Final Design:

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The Process:

Creating the Background and Sun:

I made the InDesign grid for this jacket just after covering it in class. This made this part of the task much easier with it fresh in my mind. I also made the Photoshop files to create the designs so I can upload these into the InDesign document. I had to ensure all of the measurements were correct for each section – this is very important.

The grid:

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Next, using the Photoshop files, I created the background. I created a gradient – red to an orange-yellow by choosing the colours and creating swatches and dragging the gradient cursor from the bottom upwards. This created the gradient with no effect. I did this first on the front cover then I opened the other files and applied the same gradient carefully – ensuring I positioned the tool in the same position on each section to make sure the gradient would be exactly the same. Dragging the tool from the middle of the bottom end and up to the middle of the top end.

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Each Photoshop section with the gradient applied

Using inspiration from the water colour experimenting I did in my sketchbook, I re-created this in Photoshop. With the gradient applied, and after doing lots of experiments with different tools, I swiped my mouse left and right across the document with the cotton blend tool selected and this created an effect that looks as though it has been painted by blending the colours together. It creates a similar to the one I created in my sketchbook using water colour paints. I applied the same again to each section of the book. I really like the effect that this gives. It looks as though it has paint strokes going across the paper and this gives the design a more authentic and original style

The front cover section with the effect on the gradient

Once the background colour has been applied, I took the first step in the details of the design. I began with the sun as this is the main feature on the cover.

I created a circle the size that I wanted and created some new colour swatches to choose the right colour and named them accordingly.


I experimented with slightly varying shades of yellow. I wanted to get the brightness just right but not being too bright to distract and not sit well with the tones of the sky in the background. I thought that this boded well with the colours used in the gradient background to create the atmosphere of a setting sun. I imagined the sunset in Africa or India – a big, orange sun setting in the orange and red sky.

I really like the effect that this gives. It looks as though it has paint strokes going across the paper and this gives the design a more authentic and original style. With the sun placed back on using the layers panel this is what it looks like:


I decided on the shade of yellow as shown below and I made the sun slightly bigger in size just by transforming it. I think the size of the sun goes well so far but I think at this point, I might re-size or re-position it as the design gets more developed. I knew I didn’t want the sun to have a really sharp outline so I changed these settings in the properties box. I went onto the feathering option and set this to 15px.

I think that this looks a lot better than it originally looked. It adds more depth and the dimension which adds a nice effect to the sun. This looks more like the image that I had in my head – the setting sun in a orange-red sky. I want the colours to look realistic and blended together just like a hazy sunset.

After doing this, I made some more changes to the sun. I created a new swatch and made the colour a brighter yellow to ensure it stood out, but also kept it quite a rich and mellow tone to resonate with the background colours. I also repositioned it slightly – a bit higher and slightly more towards the centre. I like the slightly off-centre positioning. It gives the cover an extra little quirk.


Once I had filled all of the backgrounds on each section, I had placed them all onto my InDesign book grid to ensure that they all fit in the grid properly and also to see how the colours worked together.


Creating The Tree: 

Creating the tree has been the most challenging aspect of the book design so far. I tried out various tools and techniques before deciding which to go for. I did these steps using Photoshop.

The idea of the painted silhouette of a tree in black against the sunset backdrop reflects what you would see in real life – the sunset would create this silhouette effect from this point of view and this is what I wanted to recreate.

I painted this carefully using the opaque brush tool. I used varied sizes to create the different thickness of the branches. I found it quite time-consuming but I wanted the drawing to be original and authentic to represent the stories. Next, using the new layer I made, “leaves”, I used another paintbrush tool to create the leaf silhouette. I chose to do this so if I didn’t like it I could easily remove it and start again. I had a couple of tries with this to experiment:

The first tree
With leaves









For the second tree, I made the it smaller and lowered the sun so it is behind the tree.

Throughout the whole process, I saved different versions – this is how a professional design would do it. This is in case you want to go back change your design at a later date. You can easily go back to a certain step and work on from there.

Applied to InDesign:




The blurb:

This classic collection of children’s short stories by Rudyard Kipling tell the much-loved tales of the animals that live in India.

Kipling wrote these magical short stories in 1902 which explores why animals are they way they are. Rudyard uses his imagination and creativity to give an interesting twist on the distinct features of wild animals that roam in the wilderness,

How did the leopard get its spots? Why does the rhino have wrinkly skin? How did the whale get its voice?

Written in 1902, these short stories are timeless, traditional and loved by both adults and children hearing the stories for the first time.

The author biography:

Rudyard Kipling was an author and poet, famous for his fiction including The Jungle Book, Kim, The Man Who Would Be King, Mandalay, The Gods of Copybook Headings and The White Man’s Burden.

 Born in India, he later moved back to England where he wrote fiction and poetry. During the 19th and 20th centuries, he was very popular and became known for his short stories.

Famous for The Jungle Book, which was later made into a Disney movie, he wrote Just So Stories eight years later. In 1907, he won a Nobel Prize for Literature – making him the both the youngest and first English person to be honored.


Here I have added the barcode, price and placed in my own blurb and author biography.13

I went back to the Photoshop file and decided to change the tree design again. I decided to use the tree tool on the Filter menu instead of using what I created using just the pen and pain tools. I removed the tree just by deleting the layer that I created it on.

I then created a tree using the tool. I went for the custom option so I could create my own style and shape to be just what I wanted.

I left the front cover text until last to do. I did this because I already had in mind what type of font I wanted to go for so I wanted to experiment with different styles of handwritten/paint-like font that would match the style of the front cover.


I tried a few fonts of similar styles – with pen/paint effects. I feel like this font works much better than the ones I previously tried. I like the style – it looks handwritten and this is the effect, which I was going for. I used the same font for the title and author name to keep it simple and consistent. I aligned the title and author name and placed the strapline above the book title. After moving this round and looking at the strap line on various other books I decided that this was this best position for it on my design.

The design as a whole at this point:


I decided to make some more changes once I had all of the necessary features on. I added some more images and moved the blurb around as I also needed to fill the front flaps.

The design after the changes:

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Changes I have made:

  • Changed font of the author name – changed to the same character style as blurb
  • A sun and a leopard silhouette walking through silhouette grass on the back cover. I edited these in the Photoshop files and reapplied these back onto the InDesign document
  • Split the blurb – placed majority on the front flap along with the barcode and left a little on the back cover to hint at what the stories are about and what animals are featured in the book
  • Placed author and title on the spine
  • Added a sun on the spine below the author and title
  • Added two eagles onto the back cover above the sun to give the illusion of the birds flying away as they see the leopard patrolling through the grass – this also matched the front flap and connects the design together
  • I also went back and edited the text – italics, orphans/widows.

Once getting to this stage, I begun to think about the type of finish I wanted on the cover.  I got inspiration from the guest speakers on the 26th April. We discussed and looked at different finishes on different genres of books and why they worked.

I think that spot UV would work perfectly on the black silhouettes to make these sections glossy whilst keeping the rest of the cover matt laminate. I did this by making a new layer.

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Packaging Files:

Before packaging, I ensured that the images were setting up correctly (CMYK and 300dpi) and the fonts were also OK:

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The files is now ready to package.

PDF in Acrobat:

The End Papers

The Final Design:

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This is the final design for the end papers. Due to the jacket being very colourful and vibrant, I wanted to to keep the colour palette consistent but produce a design that was a bit simpler. I took the idea of the silhouette of the flying bird on the front flap and chose to develop this falcon-silhouette

I took the same image from the cover and entered this into Photoshop. Using the magic wand, I removed any background. I created a new swatch – Pantone + Solid Undercoat and selected an orange shade to match the orange on the front cover and placed this onto the eagle. I ensured that the eagle was CMYK and 300dpi before placing into InDesign.

The cover has small silhouettes placed on a detailed background so for the end papers I swapped this idea around – using the colour for the small silhouettes – hence why I kept the background white – I wanted a simpler design to counteract the busy cover.

I created the end papers on InDesign following the measurements and ensured to have a 5mm bleed. I placed the eagle image first in the bottom left hand corner. I then made another copy and just flipped it horizontally and positioned it in the exact same place on the opposite page using the guidelines. I repeated this twice over making the eagles smaller each time.

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What I Found Most Difficult
During this assignment, I had a few times where I had to edit and go back and try new ways of doing things (which is all part of the learning and experience), but I think I found the colour swatches aspect the most difficult. This is something that was new to me – the different types of colours such as CMYK, pantone, etc – I did not realise before that this means different things when the file goes to print. On reflection I was learning about these new things, but now, I know how to apply different types and what they all mean which was a little confusing at first but practice makes perfect.

What I Learnt

I have learnt so much about book cover design from doing this modules and assignments. Not only about how and why a book cover works, but how to create one. During this process, I applied much of what I have learnt with Becky but I also went and found out new things by myself and learnt how to create different effects, how to edit pictures in Photoshop and I even got to practise my editing and copy-writing as I wrote my own blurb and author biography.

I have learnt many, many new things but I think the main aspect to take away from this is the production skills (especially for InDesign) and how to make a design ready for print – this is something completely new to and I was not familiar with this – but now I can say I can create and package a book cover design for print!

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