Create tasteful and unique graphic book covers for the mobile app Čtuto. As quickly and cheaply as possible.
After analyzing hundreds of official graphic book covers, I found that 90% of them were "unusable", i.e. we would need to create book covers and collections from scratch. Since there are a lot of designs involved and 1000+ covers are expected to be created in the future, it was necessary to come up with a more optimal way of creating illustrations - inventing "machine production" of graphic covers.
I created my first graphic cover designs in Photoshop and Illustrator, but this route is slower and harder to scale. That's why I decided to use the Pro version of Canva.
Style and unified look
For such a large number of designs, I had to come up with a single timeless style and look for the covers. I chose simple illustrations that reflect the title or key idea of the book, 150 fonts for titles, subtitles, and author names, and 130 colors for backgrounds and fonts.
After determining all the components (illustration style, fonts, colors, layout elements) and designing the first covers, each subsequent cover took me 5-20 minutes. The cover design process was streamlined and the initial hypothesis that Canva was the optimal solution was confirmed.
Covers by author
During the process of creating the graphic book covers, I had the idea to unify the styles of the books from each author.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Covers for collections
The brief was to create 38 illustrations for the editorially selected book collections. I wanted the look of the collections to be different from the book covers and to catch the eye right from the start.
Style and a unified look
As with the book covers, I wanted the graphics for the collections to have a consistent style. In early 2022, when I designed them, the trend was to combine 2D and 3D. I chose a uniform font, similar illustrations and implemented 3D visuals.
After designing the covers, I had to come up with a framework and workflow for creating thousands of additional illustrations so that Read's staff could design them without my involvement. I set up the workflow in two steps.
Guideline for (non-)graphic designers
Since the staff at Čtuto had never had any experience with graphics, I had to create a clear and simple guideline on how to create tasteful graphic book covers and maintain a consistent style. I drafted a seven-page guideline, drew out all possible combinations of layout elements, and assigned everyone to the team at Canva. Thanks to the skill of the staff at Read and the fact that I had all the colors and fonts pre-made, (almost) all the new covers were tasteful and in line with the guideline.
As time went on, many things changed (especially the titles and subtitles of the books), a clear workflow had to be set up, individual staff members had to be assigned "their" covers and an approval mechanism had to be implemented, and I created a database of the books in Airtable, which increased speed, improved communication and overall productivity.
150 covers in 7 days without Photoshop or Illustrator
>900 covers created by non-graphic artists
Over 13,000 views on Pinterest in 3 months
1000% acceleration of the packaging design process