When I was a child I remember seeing drawings and illustrations of a skull and crossbones on heavy electric appliances. It took me some time to connect these pictures with danger but I eventually did. The equation however changed when I watched a horror film and I saw a scene in which a character dug up a grave and found a skeleton with worms coming out of the skull. In my young mind, the meaning of skulls changed forever and always made me shudder if I happen to think of one. But, as time went by, this too changed. One of the reasons was art. I came across some beautiful pieces of art with skulls as the central attraction that completely changed how I viewed them. The covers selected today prove that something usually seen as negative can have so many other different shades and sides if molded by a talented designer.
The Lantern’s Ember
I can’t describe how much I love this cover. In fact, it’s the sole reason I chose skulls as this week’s theme. I just wanted make sure it reaches other people so that they would hopefully (and hopelessly) fall in love with it just like I did. One of the major aspects of a successful cover is the contrast in it; which is why you see glowing lights behind a silhouette or a moody atmosphere behind a well lit protagonist. It is such play with light that attracts our eyes and this cover manages to take that aspect and execute it so well that no one would even notice that it was being done. The strategic placement of the fireflies (I assume they are fireflies) makes sure that our focus goes directly towards the eyes and mouth of the skull. It makes it look like there are glowing eyes staring at you, which is a genius move because in thumbnail size those eyes will attract the attention of the viewer. As humans we are naturally drawn towards faces and especially eyes. The placement of the fireflies will also ensure that our attention goes to the intricate design on the skull which just elevates this cover to a whole different level. The amount of elements in the background should have crowded the cover but the strategic placement ensures that it just adds to the richness. The title meshes with the whole cover due to the subtle glow added to it as well as the interaction of the surrounding elements with it. I could wax on and on about this cover but I should end it here so that I don’t drag you into a seven page essay on how fabulous it is.
The Neon Boneyard
As much as I love the skull and the rest of the artistically treated elements, it’s the typography that steals the show for me. How non-cliché is that? I like how they overlap and have a very gritty texture to them instead of being plain. One thing I found appealing about the cover is the placement of the key and chains. This is the first time I am seeing a key placed so subtly. It’s there but not really. It feels like a hidden clue to solving a mystery and I am in awe of it. If this cover was done any less artistically it would have ended up being one weird mess but the element placement as well as the colour placement unifies the cover and makes it an absolute attraction.
This is a cover with a story and a very interesting way of showing that story. One look at it, and you get the vibe of the story. The first word that comes to my mind when I see this cover is voodoo, especially because of the twigs above skull. It also gives off the feeling that its something related to murder so maybe it’s a voodoo murder mystery? One thing I appreciate about this designer – the title of the book is given under the author’s name. This is a really good move because not everyone may get it from the first glance and it also ensures that people won’t forget the title. Since there are an odd number of letters in the title, this arrangement ensures that the typography fits in seamlessly. The symmetry of this cover is very pleasing.
My favourite cover was The Lantern’s Ember (no surprise there). Which was yours?
About the Author
Amala Benny is an avid reader and professional book cover designer who has designed for multiple award winning and bestselling authors. She spends her free time Fangirling over Ilona Andrews and Leigh Bardugo.