P2: Book Jacket Design

Project 2 : Photoshop Book Jacket Design

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  • Date: Please check Blackboard’s “Due Dates”


For Project 2 you will be designing a book jacket based on the composite you did for Project 1. Based on the invented space you previously created, brainstorm the beginnings of a plot for a book–just enough to extract a blurb from it and make the cover art speak to the topic. You can also make a book jacket for a collection of short stories if you wish. While you will be using the artwork from Project 1 as the launch pad for your front cover, there is a good chance you will need to modify it somewhat to suit the book jacket layout.

Special Considerations: I will consider requests to “start from scratch” with completely new cover artwork on an individual basis if requested. If you are not happy with the results of your second project, we can discuss options for revision if I feel that starting over will create problems meeting the deadline for Project #2.



Part One, Research…

While you can go online to search for images of book jackets, the very best place for you to find references is in a brick-and-mortar bookstore. By actually visiting a bookstore, you can hold the book and examine its design closely. Don’t forget: a book is about the real-life, in-the-flesh experience of reading. A lot gets lost in the convenience of online, intangible visuals. A lot of online images will also lack nitty-gritty details like barcodes, genre classifications, etc. These are things you need to reference as part of the whole book jacket design.

Make sketches of book designs you find intriguing (you can’t make copies of it in a bookstore). On your drawings, note which colors are used and where they are used, where the barcode is placed, which direction the spine reads, where the publishers insignia is, where the byline falls, etc. This will be more helpful later than you might first imagine. **Pay particular attention to the transitions (if any) that exist at the spine.**

IMPORTANT: Many publishers neglect the backs of book jackets to save money and have plain, relatively design-less back covers. Do NOT use these books as examples for the back cover of YOUR design.

Part Two, Thumbnails…

Create a minimum of three full-color, distinctly different rough layouts using pencil (colored pencils if you have them to indicate color). When designing with your collage, feel free to modify the collage (or edit the blurb) to make the cover more fluid. You can use the collage in the following ways:

contained format in a bleed off the front cover spanning front and back covers portions masked and modified to suit front and/or back

Be careful not to neglect the spine or the back cover! Make sure to consider the whole layout at a glance when designing so that one piece of it does not end up as an afterthought.

Part Three, Design and Printing:

When setting up your Photoshop spread layout, make sure that you start with an 11.5 x 8.25″ paper size. You will design the jacket to have a 1/16″ bleed all the way around (or a total of 1/8″ added to each dimension’s final size). Use guides to set up your edges and spine borders.

Make sure that when finishing a work session on your project that you save the fonts you are using, and always keep them saved in the folder with your artwork so you’ll always have them.

The final product will be a digital file that is 11.5” x 8.25” at a minimum of 200ppi (300 preferable).


Technical Requirements:


  1. Composite from Project 1 (or modified version of it).
  2. Additional image and custom brush resources for spine and/or back cover.
  3. Set the base image to RGB (since we are presenting to an online audience).
  4. The images you choose must be high enough resolution to print the final output at 11.5″ x 8.25″ with .5” spine and AT LEAST 200 ppi. Remember: not all images will need to be full scale because you are likely to use smaller selections from some of the images. I will look at the files at 100% to ensure that the print quality is adequate.
  5. At least one image needs to significantly consist of a texture or pattern.
  6. Required visual elements:
    • Publisher’s logo and name
    • bar code
    • copy/ blurb
    • title and author name (use your name) on front and spine
    • genr
    • suggested retail price


  1. Make separate .psd layers for each original image resource
  2. Organize layers into appropriate groups
  3. Layers must be named (not Layer 1, Layer 2….)
  4. Use at least 2 layer blending modes
  5. Modify the opacity on at least 2 different layers
  6. At least 2 layer masks
  7. Use at least 2 layer styles (outer glow, bevel, etc)


  • Make, save, name, and use at least 2 masks that appear in channels


  • Use at least 2 custom brushes in the composition


  • Use at least 2 of the following:
    • Clone Stamp
    • Healing Brush
    • Spot Healing Brush
    • Patch Tool


  • Use at least 2 filters (be subtle!)


  1. You must use at least three of the following: marquee, lasso, magic wand, quick select.
  2. You must save your selections and name them according to function.
  3. These must be saved in the original PSD so I can see them.


  • You must use at least 3 transformations within the project (scale, flip, skew, or rotate).


  1. Explore at least five different fonts before settling on a maximum of 2 font sets (sets include bold, normal, italics, condensed, etc.) NOTE: You may use a third font for the barcode numbers.
  2. Use good leading (line-spacing), kerning (letter-spacing), margins, combinations
  3. Do NOT use decorative or script fonts for copy/main blurb text!!! It is too hard to read and unprofessional-looking. Script and decorative fonts are only ok for titles, headings, and so on.


  1. You need to use color correction tools for all image resources (levels, curves, color balance, brightness/contrast, etc.)
  2. Use color enhancement tools (dodge, burn, sponge).


  1. Final product needs to be 11.5″ x 8.25″ at a minimum of 200ppi.
  2. You will submit the original PSD to the instructor via the Blackboar link, “Turn In Assignments” (the upload may take a long time!).
  3. You will also submit a flattened jpg file to the critique discussion board for your peers to view.
  4. You MUST submit BOTH file formats as described above to receive credit.



Grading Structure:

  1. Design and Composition: 50%
    • layout visual heirarchy, successful communication/ impact, color choices, movement, form, imagery choices, inventiveness and creativity
  2. Technical Competency: 50%
    • Followed Instructions (see above requirements), successful use of required PS tools, formal presentation and craftsmanship

Examples of Student Work

View the student example page for this project here.

Getting Started: Visualizing the Process

Download and view this brief PDF presentation to get an idea of how to approach starting and completing this project.


Demo: Setting Up the Book Jacket PSD Template


Digital Art, Design, and Communication Education