This cover looks like it was really straightforward and easy, but boy was it anything but that!
The design broke a lot of traditional rules we usually enforce for covers of our publications and also invoked hours of arguing, but that happened after the days of experimentation to get this design just right.
First off, I had to mess around a lot on InDesign to get the font for West Side Story. I eventually found the “chalk” brush on Illustrator and used that to trace letters and make the words myself. I had to move around anchor points a lot, too, because sometimes the brush would create odd angles and spikes that I had to fix. Once that battle was won, I moved to the background.
I suppose a plain black background would’ve worked fine for this design, but as usual, I decided to make my life a lot harder and try to get a gradient with an oil paint texture. First I tried looking up a lot of tutorials as to how I could get an oil paint texture on Photoshop, and it’s actually pretty easy…if you have the newest version of Photoshop…Needless to say, our school’s Photoshop was very outdated and my free trial for the new version of Adobe applications had ended months prior to this dilemma. Aside from that texture, the only way to get an oil paint background would be to make my own or manipulate a pre-existing photo. So, off to Google Images I went, in search of the perfect oil painting texture.
My friend can confirm that I scoured the internet for at least five or six hours before settling on one oil painting background texture. Then, I downloaded that and opened it up on Photoshop where I manipulated it for hours. I used the Patch Tool on Photoshop to keep stealing different parts of the photo and changing the texture to get it just how I wanted it. Then I made it a little bit transparent and added a gradient box behind it to give the oil paint texture a gradient. I played with the levels of gradient for a long, long time until I got to a point where it was subtle, but also still present.
The next problem I ran into was text placement. I wanted this cover to be very dramatic and somber, since it was highlighting a very heavy cover story on Islamophobia, Xenophobia, and the Paris attacks. Traditionally, we place the headline, deck, and page number on the cover. However, for this cover I chose to only place the headline…which resulted in a lot of debating as to whether that was the right decision or not.
There was also a lot of arguing in regard to the placement and size of the Eiffel Tower graphic I made. The concept for this cover was inspired by Time Magazine’s cover following the Paris attacks, where they used a graphic of the Eiffel Tower for the “I” in Time. As I mimicked that idea for the cover design, a lot of people argued that it was too subtle for readers to notice, or left a lot of empty space that looked odd. However, I countered that not only is white space is a very, very big trend, but also that the subtleties of this cover and the minimalistic look would resonate more with a passing reader than would a giant Eiffel Tower graphic with all the information about the cover story plastered on the page.
Finally my arguments semi-convinced everyone and so did the Quill & Scroll and IHSPA awards I won for the design later in the year 🙂
I think the battles I faced while designing this cover were very worthwhile, however, because it taught me more about how to stand up for my beliefs, even when nearly the entire staff was skeptical of my decisions. I was most certainly worried that the cover would not look as good as I had imagined once it printed, but it turned out great.
Next time I’ll talk a bit about the inside cover story design. Thanks for reading!