As part our our course work we were asked to design a book cover for either or both of two classic books; Animal Farm by George Orwell or Naughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman.
I was immediately drawn to Animal Farm as I find Orwell’s work to be shocking and vivid. Animal Farm is his classic which uses the revolt of farm animals as an allegory for the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. The reason it’s influence is so long lasting and pervasive. Is that the topics explored of devious political maneuvering and corruption can be applied to so many administrations including contemporary ones.
While I found myself drawn to this book, it’s popularity was a double edged sword. As a result of its commercial success, numerous book cover designs have been created. To put it simply, a lot of the best ideas have been taken.
As you can tell, there is somewhat of a theme in the book. I had to find an effective and visual appealing cover that would not be simply a reworking of existing designs. Basically, make it look nice, be implicitly descriptive of the books themes and don’t just shove a pig in the centre of the page.
After experimenting with numerous ideas and visual style, I elected to go with an effect I have always been interested in. I wanted to build a silhouette of a windmill. After the image of the pig, the windmill is certainly one of the most important themes of the book.
I was very pleased with my early outcomes, the only bumps in the road I was worried about were the over simplicity of my designs, as well as the fact that the line tracing pieces were quite intricate in their own way and so would become very difficult to make out once all the cover copy was applied, the blurb and title would do a lot to obscure the details and diminish the effect.
I decided to stick with the windmill silhouette as i liked the contrast it gave my page and it has a rather gaunt and rustic look as if it was cobbled together by sentient farm animals. What I now needed to do was find a way of bringing more depth and texture to a very flat and sparsely detailed piece.
I used a number of acrylic paints to create a textured image somewhat reminiscent of a vibrant skyline. The colour was intended to combine a skyline with the thematically important shade of green. This colour clearly represents the ideology of the early animal farm, symbolising freedom from oppression.
I also painted and edited some of the key text from the book, First, i daubed the words ‘Animal Farm’ and then the most famous quote from the book ‘All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.’ These turned out very well.
I used black paint on white paper before inverting the colours and increasing the contrast to allow the type to sit perfectly on my silhouette without losing the rough edges that are so important to the painted texture effect.
At this point I started building up my layers. The key concept for this book cover was for the front cover to represent the beginning of the revolt. The infectious atmosphere of optimism and new found freedom. The windmill acting as a centrepiece and a symbol of all of the animals efforts.
The rear cover then, was the downfall of Animal Farm as an idea. The windmill is broken, as were the spirits of the animals and the ideology of Old Major. The sky has also turned red to symbolise the return of the human way of life, as now dictated by the pigs. The broken windmill was created by simply cutting parts from the complete windmill and arranging them in a dishevelled and dilapidated manner. I also wanted to fade the ‘Animal Farm’ text, but I decided to leave some areas lighter that would spell out the word ‘LIAR’ the symbolise the betrayal the the principles of Animalism that occurred.
Here then, is my final outcome. I was very happy with the finished product especially since it was almost entirely the work of a weekend. Up until very near to the deadline I was tooling around with endless ideas that would not produce anything to the standard I wished to produce. This then is pretty much as good as I could do with the time I had. I’m very happy with it and it’s now simply a case of waiting for feedback from the Penguin Publishing judges.