A Clockwork Orange

With the final deadline being 12:00 tomorrow for submitting our designs, I put half this day towards developing and finishing my design. I’m going to use this post to compare and criticise the designs I’ve got, well the different versions

Version 1 – the original

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Version 2 – Re-visited

Design 1 mock-up

Version 3 – Re-visited white

Design 3 mock-up

Version 4 – Re-visited today

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Version 5 – Chemin type

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Version 6 – Back in blackScreen Shot 2016-03-09 at 09.34.17.pngVersion 7 – White

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Penguin Book Cover Comp re-visit

I’ve decided to spend an hour, or so, a day re-visiting old projects. First up is Penguins: A Clockwork Orange. I was happy with my out, but considering the amount of time I spent design, a few hours, I know it can be a lot better, and I can definitely get it to a standard worthy of the competition.

Old design

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Want to play with the colours, imagery and type….so pretty much everything. I don’t want to change anything on the back-cover, unless the front-cover design changes to dramatically that I have to. It’s all about the front. I do like the overlay effect of the figures, something I want to experiment with.

Altered design – The digital mock-up is slightly on the wide side so it doesn’t do the design 100% justice, so bare with me.

Design 1 mock-up

One of the pieces of feedback I received was the relationship with the pocket knife and the title, so taking the title to the bottom of the page gave me freedom to utilise more space up the top, felt like before it was a little too minimal. I’ve re-arranged the imagery so it looks like Alex is threatening himself, and I’ve incorporated the triangle, being symbolic to controlling and capitalism. The triangle also nicely frames Alex.

Then, I was considering taking the white out altogether, but then I thought, why isn’t it all white? White is a symbol for futuristic and Alex’s gangs uniform is white, I chose the blue/green before I wanted it to be the opposite to orange, and the milk…is white!ha

‘White is the new orange’ in this case, hope someone gets that!haha

White design

Design 2 mock-up

I need to experiment with the balance and order of colours, well tones, maybe the whole book should be white? I love the contrast of the imagery on the back-cover, but I’ll experiment with it. As I discussed in my last blog post about this project, which was a while ago, I was considering finishes to the book e.g. gloss UV or Matt. Because the tones may blend in a bit, being so subtle, different finishes will add some contrast so I’ve got to look into that.

Whiter than Daz

Design 3 mock-up

That’s it for now! very happy with the sudden progress and think with a couple more hour on this it’ll be ready to submit.

Penguin Brief reflection

So as this project in uni has finished, but the actually penguin submission date isn’t until 12 noon on Wednesday 9 March 2016, I’ve decided to look closer at the requirements again and to compare them to my design.

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The Brief

A Clockwork Orange is as dazzling and inventive to new readers today as it was when it was first published half a century ago. The story is well known both in celluloid and print so it is essential to come at it from a fresh angle. Try to design a new cover for a new generation of readers, avoiding the obvious clichés. Originality is key.

Your cover design needs to include all the cover copy as supplied and be designed to the specified design template (B format, 198mm high x 129mm wide, spine width 10mm).

What the judges are looking for:

We are looking for a striking cover design that is well executed, has an imaginative concept and clearly places the book for its market. While all elements of the jacket need to work together as a cohesive whole, remember that the front cover must be effective on its own and be eye-catching within a crowded bookshop setting. It also needs to be able to work on screen for digital retailers such as Amazon.

Maybe my design could be a little more striking, I noticed from a distance it wasn’t the easiest to read. might just be down to the colours needing to be adjusted.

The winning design will need to:

  • have an imaginative concept and original interpretation of the brief – I think I tick this box. Think with the research I collected and approach I took that my design and angle to the brief is original.
  • be competently executed with strong use of typography – Despite creating a minimalist design, I could take the typography further.
  • appeal to a contemporary readership – The feedback I got from Nath and Ray, and of course my personal opinion, concludes that my cover design has a contemporary appeal.
  • show a good understanding of the marketplace – I think I could look at similar books to see what they have in common. I think I capture the mood of the story tho with simplistic graphics that don’t give too much away.
  • have a point of difference from the many other book covers it is competing against – It’s safe to say I’ve split myself from anyone using the cliches e.g. Orange, Clockwork, The droog uniform, Milk, etc. Maybe developing the type could add to my chances of creating a more unique design.
  • be able to sit on the shelves of a supermarket or ebook store as easily as it sits on those of more traditional bookshops – That is an interesting requirement. To make a contemporary design that works both in modern supermarkets, traditional book shops and I assume Libraries. Could mean I would have to adjust colours. I think my book as an element of timeless design.
  • Copyright must be cleared for all images used in your cover design – All images are 100% mine

Book cover print finishes

After doing the Penguin book cover competition last year, I didn’t really think about the print finishes. Over the summer I read about Computer Arts Magazine cover competition. The magazine had a review of the shortlist for the cover design and one thing that interested me was where the review for each design had a section on how it could be improved for print. This section contained stuff like if the title should have a glass over it, if the digital version of the magazine was animated. Even though this isn’t really relevant to our project or even a requirement to submitting to the competition, I found it interesting.

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Computer Arts cover contest 2015: top 12 shortlist revealed

This is an example of what they talk about in respect of print/digital finishing.

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I had never considered this side of design a book cover and theres loads of techniques I’ve never heard of. such as –

  • The print edition is set up to use thermo-sensitive ink, which “enables the reader to literally reveal the new talent within”.
  • Mateusz thinks the print edition could be enhanced using diffuser foil.
  • For print, Loek suggests a UV spot varnish.
  • Josie suggested a spot varnish on certain areas of her design to add depth
  • use a bit of glow-in-the-dark ink on some parts of the illustration.
  • Mohd suggests a non-gloss print on the drawing part of the cover: “This enables designers to draw their artwork on the canvas.
  • A laser-cut cover page.
  • the ‘New Talent’ title and circular icon could be die-cut and filled with a glossy black paper or have a rough matt finish.”


Here’s a great video of how Computer Arts used thermo-sensitive ink on there lastest issue.

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Computer Arts goes behind the scenes with our print finishing partners Celloglas, as a thermochromic heat-reactive ink is applied to our Top 30 UK Studios issue. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYsNdOvBhl4

Examples of print finishes

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UV spot varnish

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thermo-sensitive ink or thermochromic heat-reactive ink

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 glow-in-the-dark ink

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diffuser foil

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Laser-cutting & Die-cutting

In terms of my design?

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Due to the subtly of the colours in my minimalist monotone design, I’d like the have the silhouettes UV spot varnished, but I’m caught between a gloss or matt finish. Again working with simplistic imagery doesn’t leave much to work with, maybe the crouching silhouette on the cover could be done using glow-in-the-dark ink? which means it’s barely visible in the day but when its dark it appears. Same applies to the back, and all you’ll see is the standing silhouette. I think if the silhouette’s, title and other elements on the cover and back have a glossy finish then the rest of the book should be matt, which will to show the division and contrast instead of me having to make bolder adjustments to colours.

More information on different finishes



Formative feedback

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Firstly we stuck up all our cover designs, in the penguin template, around our room. There were all shapes and sizes, some had printed the design to fit the whole A3, others were too small, mine was just right lucky just right. We were asked to chose a cover design that was opposite our space, I got Nath’s, and we had to critique there work and give them some honest feedback. Nath said mine look contemporary, which is good, but question my layout saying the title went over the crop mark, but I explained that was intentional as both the sides of the title are cropped. Then in a group, with Ray, we went through all the designs on our side of the room and discussed them in more detail. Overall Ray and the group were pleased with my minimalistic monotone design. As the majority of the designs in the room had the colour orange in it or other cliches from the film(not even the book), I’m glad I designed something original.


  • The silhouette of Alex conducting doesn’t quit look in proportion – can easily adjust this.
  • The type on the back is too big – although it’s only 12pt, maybe try 11? see how it would look printed and see how it looks wrapped around a book.
  •  The knife in Alex’s hand doesn’t work, especially as it goes through the O – something I can alter.
  • As predicted, the printed image was a lot different to the screen design – I plan to experiment with different papers and see what colours work against each other.
  • The hand, which is not holding the knife, doesn’t look natural – I can maybe add a second tone to the conducting silhouette like I did with the crouching one.
  • The design is minimal and I think I did that well, but I think it might be worth exploring some typography as it’s an element I have considered, but not for the style I wanted to achieve.

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Aside from the difference the printed version has to the on screen design. I’d say I’m pretty happy with the outcome, considering I spent 2/3’s of the project researching and that it’s the first design I’ve done properly on Adobe Illustrator, it’s been a good project. Even though the book was controversial and not something I’d usually read, or watch in the case of the film, I become really interested in it, especially the authors intentions.

Silhouettes, development and final design

Work up to the finishing design

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When we had the first lecture with Cathy she talked a lot about the use of silhouettes. saying it takes all the human qualities away from the image leaving it de-humanised. One of my ideas was Alex conducting with his razor(weapon), again going with the idea the music and violence going together. I got Ben to pose so I could trace his silhouette on Adobe Illustrator, before these last couple of weeks I hadn’t used Illustrator to design much….in fact anything, but I’ve built up a lot more confident using it.

after some artist direction these are the Images of Ben conducting…with a knife.

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I chose the one I thought was the most fitting and traced it –

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Inspiration behind my idea is comes from when I wrote this when studying Burgess use of music in the book

As the book is written in the first person, which we feel part of, it’s like the main character Alex is playing what Burgess is conducting. But I also feel like when Alex is the victimizer he is conducting the music, when that changes in the second and third part, as he becomes the victim, it’s as if he becomes deaf and blind, and unable to conduct his own life.

I needed a silhouette that contrasted that of him conducting. So again I asked Ben to pose, this time crouching and holding his head being depressed and wanting to give up on life.

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Again I live traced it on Illustrator, resulting with this

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I spent a good hour experimenting with composition, how it would look and the cover and colouring/layering –

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Before I used Images of Ben I had played around with a simple silhouette  –

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The blue design was the first I did. then I went to the red one’s where I experimented with the type and contrasts of the silhouette, but I came to the conclusion, as aesthetically pleasing the red and black was…it looked like a zombie horror, maybe the imagery didn’t help. I thought the green/blue tone was more neutral and had a more mood ora to it, plus it’s almost the complete opposite to the colour orange.

Using the images I traced I produced these –

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Mock-ups on Photoshop

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I like the monotone and decided to merge the image of him conducting and crouching. I was also inspired by Queens of the stone age: Go with the flow, Music video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcHKOC64KnE

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Final designs

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Book Mock-up

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I wanted to created a minimal design, with not to much information about the story and that stayed away from the cliches e.g. colour orange, the eye, milk, blood, The Droogs outfit, etc. I did spend most of two weeks we had researching, and I’m glad I did. It honestly made the designing process so much easier and compared to last years penguin cover designs, I’m much happier with this outcome, Both contextually and the visual solution to the brief.

Music outcome and design in context to book cover template

Even though I don’t think I’ll use this, I definitely believe it’s worth mentioning.

Finished design

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I did my best to make it look as authentic I possibly could. In order to do this I research a lot of musical technical meanings, which was interesting.

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As I’ve said the book has been split into three sections, so that is why my design has three lines of music, two on the front and one on the back. The first expression Alex’s love of violence and music, The second is barely visible as he becomes reformed/brainwashed and can’t see the music, and then the third section on the back of the book is back to where he started. I’ve finished the last line of music on the back with the musical symbol for repeat, as that what the book is about, the full cycle.


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Although I was happy with the context behind the idea, the design itself was too simplistic and lacked something. I spent time trying new things and developing it but nothing seemed to work. In the meanwhile I became favourable of another idea.