Foundation Print Workshop: Chekhov book covers

Mock-ups of the book covers designed in Adobe Illustrator

I worked on these book cover designs during the Foundation course with my friend Jamila. For the brief we had to select three books by the same author and create a series of book covers, utilizing three-colour screen printing. I learnt many new and useful things on this project - not only how to screen print, but also preparing stencils in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, and most useful in my opinion was how to work in collaboration.

As someone who previously preferred to work alone it was a huge eye-opener, not only to discover the benefits of working in a team, but also how much I enjoyed it! Fortunately, Jamila allowed me to indulge my interest in Russian literature so we chose to design covers for three short stories by Anton Chekhov. The benefits of working in this way included a more exciting development process whereby we could discuss ideas and inspire each other. We both have different artistic interests - I was interested in character design, whilst Jamila was great at natural sketches and patterns.

Our working process began with research - we read the stories and highlighted key imagery, looked at other screen-printed book covers and also at different interpretations of Chekhov's writing in illustrative form. We were particularly inspired by the Czech stop-motion animator Jiri Trnka who had adapted Chekhov's Romance with a Double Bass. We loved the stylized construction of his scenes and characters, and you can see how were influenced by his work below:

Image source:

In my development sketches the characters evolve to become more elongated and stylized as in Trnka's style. The character's personalities are reflected in their shapes. I had not previously worked in this style and I found I quite liked it and saw a lot of potential for future character design. I also had to keep the designs simple for the screen-printing stencils, and to limit colour use for the same reason.

From these pencil sketches, we moved into computer art by scanning the drawings. This method allowed us to work separately on different elements in our respective sketchbooks and then to combine the art together on the computer - trying various compositions and colour schemes. Once we were happy we created stencils from the computer art and experimented with screen-printing the covers. Briefly, the screen-printing process was fairly difficult and required lots of patience, however the quality of line and colour were well worth the effort and I plan to practice more as I think this medium has plenty of interesting potential for incorporation into animation work.