Designing the Cover: Part Two

Welcome to the second part of my blog all about the cover design for my new book. We left off with the final selection of the "blue" cover and now that we had a direction, it was a matter of experimenting and tweaking.

I was drawn to the simplicity of the colours and imagery. The font was something I liked from the start. It was bold, clear and informal. This matched the tone of the book and I hoped reflected my slightly unconventional sensibilities. The separated sub heading in its own box was part of the clean look we were going for. The faint M3 image coalescing at the bottom corner worked a lot better than having the car in the centre of the cover and was a clever compromise between having multiple smaller images too.

The final visual effect that I felt really worked were the faint vertical lines in the background. They were similar to the ones on the M3's identification plague on the centre console. BMW only built 600 Sport Evolutions and strangely, they didn't have the cars individual build numbers them.

All that being said, the image looked too blue to me. I wanted to add more colours without the whole thing becoming a mess. I looked to the M3 itself. The Sport Evolution came with a red stripe on the front and back bumpers. It was the late 80's and red stripes adorning cars typically denoted speed. Not too subtle and arguably slightly tacky, so tacky in fact that the M3's previous owner had removed this visual cue on the car before Dad bought it; for the cover though, it would break up the blue and give the readers eyes something to be drawn to.

This looked good and Kiri experimented with font size and effects as well as modifying the M3 image. The next addition came from the "M" logo, specifically the purple and red that accompany the blue. We had the idea of replicating it before my name, which had been extended to match my recently publishing thesis from 2002. (A long story for another blog that is in the works).

This little addition looked good, too good in fact. I was concerned that I may be sued by BMW and/or its M division at some point for copyright breach or something equally expensive. Being me, I also envisioned prison; where I would either wither under incarceration, or rule the joint with an iron fist. Either way, I didn't want to find out and it didn't make it into the final design.

Alas, the cover still didn't feel right to me. I knew I was being anal but this was going to be the face of the book and I was not going to let it be signed off on before I was satisfied. At this time, I was devouring the first season of Dreamworks Voltron: Legendary Defender and I had fallen in love with the cartoon. This was a reboot of a classic cartoon I had watched in my youth by the people who had brought us Avatar: The Last Air Bender and the even better (in my humble opinion) Legend of Korra. The Voltron lions were the real stars to me. In the first episode, we are introduced to the blue lion initially and I knew I had found my next piece of inspiration.

Image sourced from 

Refining a book cover based on a semi-sentient, weaponized robot space lion did seem slightly crazy and I remember being sheepish in my email to Kiri explaining my ideas. Firstly, I wanted the M3 to seem alive and awake on the cover. The lion's eyes could be replicated on the M3 by adding a simple headlight effect.

I also wanted to use the lion's colour scheme with its grey body and blue highlights as a counter point to the colour scheme we had used throughout this process. The result was interesting but Kiri felt the blue popped more. I agreed.

The final cover design reverted back to blue and the headlight effect was fully rendered. There was a lighter blue hue incorporated into it too. It was simple and eye-catching and I am thrilled with the final product. The back cover is matched with a rear view of the M3 and a blurb on myself. I am not posting it here as it contains spoilers. But stay tuned. The final printed books will be arriving in the next few weeks!

Just One More Drive