Book Covers
for Classic Novels

As a passion project, I designed “special edition” book covers for three classic novels: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie, and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Year

2020

Passion Project

Three Special Edition Cover Designs
One Print-Ready Dust Jacket Design
Mockups of Designs

After researching the target audience and history of the novels and their authors, I determined that readers who are new to classic literature, book collectors, and avid readers of classic novels were my target audience. Follow along below to learn about the process for how I worked on this personal project!

The goal of this project was to create new book covers that act as a visual sales pitch and draw this widespread audience into the illustrated details and the plots of the books.

Selected conceptual sketches

Conceptual sketches for the book covers.

The Challenge

These books have been read and republished, and have had covers that have been redesigned countless times. It was a challenge to create covers that could capture the attention of a wider audience that spans across countries and a broad age group, and have the potential of gaining revenue for publishers. With all of this in mind, creating unity within the three book covers was another challenge to overcome. Each novel has a completely different plot, author, and they take place in three different periods. After hours of brainstorming, sketching, and feedback, I settled on the illustrated borders, and finally felt that I had found a design that unified the three books and hopefully gave justice to these fantastic written works.
Peter pan initial book cover mockup.
Pride and Prejudice initial book cover mockup.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes initial book cover mockup.
Initial box-set conceptual design.
Peter Pan initial book cover dust jacket design.

Strategy

Each cover features illustrations that depict the unique contents of the story. To create unity in the three designs, each of the covers has a border composed of symbols and objects from the story, the titles (on the front cover and spine) are all treated with gold-leaf foiling, and a symbol relevant to the contents of the story is placed below the title. The colours of the backgrounds (front and back covers) and the spine all work together as a gradient colour palette, and the hand-lettered titles are all created in the same style. The mockups help to make it easier to imagine how the hand-drawn illustrations and light-catching gold foiling would catch the attention of passers-by (if the books were ever sold in-store with these covers) and would encourage the customers to be drawn in to discover the meanings behind each of the illustrations on the covers.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Pride and Prejudice, and Peter Pan final book cover design mockups.
Pride and Prejudice final dust jacket design mockup.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes final book cover design mockup.
Peter Pan final book cover design mockup.

Ottawa Design Club

My submission was accepted and this project was featured in Ottawa Design Club’s Zine 0002 - Pop Culture, their 2021 Winter-Spring edition!

Final Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed the process that went into creating each of these book covers. I have a love of classic literature and so despite the challenges that came with taking on this project, I appreciated having the opportunity to create covers that have the potential to lead others to be immersed in the same adventures that I have experienced throughout the pages of the novels.
Final box-set design mockup for all three books.

These classic novels have each had their influence on pop culture and history in ways that the authors couldn’t possibly have imagined at the time that they were writing them. They have become so influential that producers and publishers can’t help but create retellings of these stories that readers, viewers, and listeners can enjoy time and time again. Do you think of Disney, Kiera Knightley, and Benedict Cumberbatch before or after you think of Sir Arthur Conan Dole, Jane Austen, or J. M. Barrie?


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