Graphic Design / Interactive Design / Fine & Applied Arts / Parkland College

GDS 120 Graphic Design I
Project 4: Book Cover

Instructors: Liza Wynette and Paul Young


To develop conceptual thinking skills. To communicate ideas visually and verbally. To explore illustration and photography styles. To apply design principles to real-world visual communication problems.

Secondary objectives

To utilize Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign as layout and production tools.


Re-design an existing book cover in the spirit of Chip Kidd (hint: choose a poorly designed book). Make improvements in any of the following areas: form (design principles, typography), content (concept, photography, illustration, copywriting, marketing objectives). Keep in mind who the target audience is.

Your design must show an understanding of unity, emphasis, balance and color theory. When appropriate, utilize rhythm and depth as well.

Also see these books (on reserve in the Parkland Library):

Note: High resolution stock photos and illustrations are available from Photospin. Contact your instructor for more information.


1. Research for inspiration: Visit a book store to research contemporary book covers for inspiration. Barnes and Noble and Jane Addams are good options. Also review online resources (i.e.,, and AIGA 50 Books/50 Covers (1996-2011). Look specifically for creative concepts and creative use of typography, photography or illustration. Publish your research on your personal Process Page for critique (be sure to caption each image and cite the source). Be prepared to explain why these examples are successful.

2. Marketing research: Find a book cover you want to re-design and scan it for reference. Research your client (the author). What is the author's history? What genre does this book cover fall into? What does the competition look like? Publish your reference scan on your personal Process Page for critique. Analyze your research and write a written statement of objectives in the form of a memo (see sample brief). Be sure to include descriptive adjectives in the "character" paragraph (see vocabulary wheel ). Have your brief reviewed by the Writing Lab, then email your brief as a shared Google Doc or an attached Word file to

3. Incubation: Absorb the information you have gathered and sleep on it. Allow your unconscious mind to make connections for you.

4. Develop the concept: In your sketchbook begin to conceptualize ideas for this project (see examples of sketches). Make at least 10 sketches of all possible directions you might take this project. Edit your concepts down to your best three ideas and redraw them on 8.5 x 11 white paper using a felt tip pen. Scan and publish your concepts on your personal Process Page (no wider than 1000px) for critique along with a link to your client's current website. Be prepared to discuss how your design fulfills the marketing objectives outlined in your brief.

5. Proof: Based on the critique of the above, use the computer to execute at least two versions of your best idea (present at least one proof with an alternate font choice). Publish low-res PDF's (instructions) on your personal Process Page for critique. Be prepared to talk about what design principles are utilized in your design. Also print a high-quality color proof for your Process Book.

6. Final Critique: Based on the critique of the above, fine-tune your designs (if needed). Place your design into this photoshop mock-up. Submit high-quality color proof(s) for final critique (see printing tips). Prepare a presentation to justify your design decisions. Also publish a high-res PDF (instructions) on your personal Process Page.

7. Grading: Submit two copies of your work for grading. One proof will be returned to you after grading. File the graded proof in your Process Book for individual review along with all the preliminary work you did for the project (research, brief, sketches, preliminary proofs, final proof). Review your Process Page and make sure you have an accurate record of your process. Also submit one multi-page high-res PDF (instructions) via Cobra's dropbox. You will not receive credit for this project if any of the above elements are missing.

8. Portfolio preparation: If you are happy with the results of this project, consider including it in your portfolio. If necessary, continue to make refinements until you are 100% satisfied with the project. Be sure to save all your files for future editing.

9. Extra credit:  Submit your project into the annual student show by printing an art gallery quality proof and mounting it on foam board. Also prepare an archival quality JPEG (instructions) and submit your project using the online entry form at Your project may win a cash prize and be published in a showcase of student work on Parkland's website.

Last updated: 4/10/17 ■ Webmaster: Paul Young