The Cover

The Cover Project is an opportunity to combine the design elements of typography and illustration into a cohesive and compelling composition.

Your cover project can be a:

  • Book cover

  • Album cover

  • Magazine cover

In all cases, the cover can be real (e.g., an existing book) or imaginary (a fictitious magazine). The challenge is to evoke a clear visual message about the media’s content and genre by way of a well-designed cover.


1. Communicate

With the cover project, start by picking a favorite book, album or magazine - and give yourself a client questionnaire in order to form a clear design brief.

Here are the essential question you need to ask yourself

  • What is the essence of the story, music, etc. that is conveyed in this media - how can this be made clear visually?

  • Who is the audience? What visual elements (colors, fonts, styles, etc. would resonate with them?)

  • What essential typography is required (title, author, etc.)?

  • What illustration style best suites this cover?

2. Research

Based on your design brief, visit the following websites and conduct some related searches:

Google (related cover search)
Behance (illustration styles)
Dafont (use custom sample field)
Google Fonts (use custom sample field)

If a cover, font, etc resonates with you, screen grab it (cmd+opt+4). After you have +10 images, drop the collective images into gomoodboard.

3. Ideate

Based on your moodboard, grab your sketchbook and draw at least 6 possible cover solutions.

From these initial 6 solutions, selected one. Flip the page over and draw 6 new variations based on the initial solution you selected.

From this second round of 6, pick your top solution.

Before you fully commit, get some feedback from classmates, family, . . . anyone you can. Listen to learn - and be open to suggestions - you might come up with an even better solution with some outside feedback.

4. Finalize

Using Illustrator, either draw from scratch or import/trace your top solution. Paying close attention smooth curves, aligned edges and other professional standards (see “Specs and Standards” below).


Specs and


Your cover should be setup and turned in with the following specs:

  • Industry standard dimmensions for given media (be sure to research!)

  • 2 or more typographic elements (title, author, band, album, etc.)

  • 1 or more illustration elements (patterns, silhouettes, value studies, etc.)

  • RGB

  • .ai file format


Issues and

Here are some common challenges and helpful guidelines for cover designers to consider.




A logo should express a feeling/experience abstractly rather than a limiting/literal representation of a product.


Artboard 6.jpg

While color can help define a brand, a logo should still work in black and white. The mark (symbol) should be iconic, not complex or illustrative.


Artboard 6 copy.jpg

A logo should be clear at a distance or scaled down. Avoid thin lines and tiny elements. Keep strokes consistent for unity.


Artboard 6 copy 2.jpg

The mark (symbol) and logotype (type) should be scaled in relationship to each other. Avoid putting one inside the other and awkward type angles.