Added : March 09, 2010

Last Updated: November 16, 2010

13358     4     4 comments

TOPIC / Book Cover Design

How to Design a Cover in 1:55 seconds


How to Design a Cover in 1:55 seconds

The Creative Director of Orbit Books, Lauren Panepinto, has invited all to see her process for designing the cover of Blameless by Gail Carriger. In one minute and 55 seconds, The Making of a Book Cover time-lapse video takes us through intense Photoshop compositing and retouching, type tweaking in Illustrator, keyword image research, double checking the cover brief form in Microsoft Word, and the painstaking revisions process. 

We had the opportunity to catch up with the designer briefly and she shared the below commentary on the project:

"For the Alexia Tarabotti series, this was one of the first books I started when I joined the Orbit team. The author, Gail Carriger, had done some research on her own (I love a design-minded author) and found a photo of Donna Ricci, the “goth supermodel”, in an awesome victorian kind of steampunk outfit, and sent it to us. The image was a near perfect starting point, so we just decided to see if we could use that very image. Donna was very happy to be our Alexia, so after a little Photoshop magic to make her look a little less punk and a little more proper Victorian, we were off to a pretty good start. The foggy London backdrop was a no brainer for the story and feel. As you can see from the in-progress image, we initially went very Victorian, very steampunk-feeling. I even designed a medal that I was going to use on the back (the octopus is drawn from the story)...but ultimately it was too old-timey, a little too dark. If you get a chance to read the books, they’re hilarious. They’re kind of a Victorian comedy of errors, just with werewolves and vampires. And the heroine, Alexia, is more plucky than dark. So with a little less “steam” and a little more “punk”, plus some type with a nod to British punk, we came to the “Victorian punk” kind of aesthetic of Soulless, Changeless, and Blameless.

Once the look was set for Soulless, it’s just been a matter of getting the right picture of “Alexia” in the right backdrop for the book: at the railing of a dirigible for book 2, and in Paris, ideally with an ornithopter, for book 3. I’ve been dying to do some more behind-the-scenes posts on the Orbit blog, because I know my friends & family love to see that kind of thing, and it’s fun to do. So I got some good screen-capture software for my computer, kind of organized all the images I had for book 3, and had at it. Let me tell you, I never knew how many times a day I checked my email until poor Eric Westpheling had to edit them all out of the video. He did a fantastic job condensing at least 6 hours down into 2 minutes. And yet focusing in on the fun when the author told me the Eiffel Tower wasn’t built yet. Or when I realized I had to retouch the cars out of the Paris background. I love working on this series because they’re so much fun. Donna isn’t just a model, she also has a steampunk website, Clockwork Couture, so she’s always looking for new props for the next story. Hopefully Alexia Tarabotti will have a lot more adventures, because designing them is a lot of fun. And the stories are great – I tear through the manuscripts as soon as I get them from the editor." —Lauren Panepinto

Lauren also shared an earlier cover design comp for the first book in the series, Soulless:

And the original photograph of the model Donna Ricci that started it all: 

Below are the cover and spine designs for the three books in the Alexia Tarabotti series:

credits for cover designs:
Art Director & Designer: Lauren Panepinto
Photographer: Derek Caballero (Soulless & Changeless), Tiny Dragon Productions (Blameless)
Model: Donna Ricci
Font: Knockout & Baskerville
Publisher: Orbit Books


add an inspiration


member comments

Please log in to add a comment


Lauren Panepinto said on March 09, 2010

Yay! Thanks Karen!


Brian Haselton said on March 09, 2010

Love your YouTube time lapse. Tweeted the link, great job.


Whitney Manger said on March 17, 2010

This is amazing!


Shannon Sumner said on June 02, 2010

Amazing indeed. I love time lapses!