This is a project based on the design of the book cover and sleeve for Robert Browning´s version of this classic Grimm Brothers tale, trying to give it a more up-to-date style.
We were looking for something “stronger” than the classical children´s designs we always see for this kind of books. I wanted to get a shocking image rather than a beautiful one, with the most important element covering all the book: RATS. Living in NY is very inspiring in a lot of different ways, and this is one of them…
Rats, rats, rats: just leaving a little space where our hero the piper appears. And the space is just that: emptiness, white, air where we can breath.
I want to point reader´s attention to the piper, but first I want the reader to go all over the rats: see the problem and then the solution. When creating an image it is very important to know that the observer is going to look at its components exactly in the same order as we want him to do it. Colors, contrast and figures will help us to get this effect.
This is the first composition of the image, with all the dark mass of rats pointing at the character:
We are just taking spectator´s eye to the piper playing with tones and contrast, but we can make it even easier for him. Rats tails are, in my opinion, the most disgusting part of them, so they could be a very good “eye guide” to get this:
Once we have this scheme, we need to find a starting point for spectator´s eye: we know where we want him to end his view, but we have to give him a point to start. We get it adding something irregular that catches observer´s eye first, something that shocks him: one of the tails doesn´t “go with the flow” and crosses the image, so this is the point where the reader will look at first.
Then we use a color connection between the rats and the piper. A limited color palette is going to give the image a stronger impact, focusing the attention on the elements. A “cute” color like pink is going to make a big contrast with the black and filthy rats, and that is very good.
This is the line drawing, made with nib and liners.
Now it´s time to design the rest of the sleeve, based on the idea mentioned before: rats everywhere, we need the Piper to clean them out. All is rats and tails except the cover where we can find some air to breath.
Simple and direct. Then we just add the text from the publisher and the rest of the information and we are ready.
Thanks for reading, and remember if your are next weekend in NY, you can find me at MoCCA Festival from 11am to 6pm, at the Lexington Avenue Armory
68 Lexington Ave (Between 25th &26th Streets). See you there!!