Dawn DeVries Sokol


Evolution of a Cover

I’ve been mulling over this post for a while. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to show early stages of the Doodle Diary cover, but I thought about it and I’m always interested in others’ processes. So here goes:

Doodle Diary is really a long way from where we started. We had a completely different title at the beginning, and a different direction. I started out with the intention of a how-to art journal book for kids. We eventually found our way to Doodle Diary, a concept much more like ME and my style of art journaling.

The cover was a monster in itself. Covers really have to sell a book. They are the first impression. The sales and marketing peeps have a say in the overall look of a book, so your cover has to be strong from the get-go. It can be incredibly inspiring to design someone else’s cover, but when it comes to your own, well, that’s another story. It’s like designing your self-promotion pieces. You are your own worst critic. I am able to separate myself from the design I do for others. Once in a while, I will feel strongly about a design I’ve done and it’s usually a mutual agreement with the publisher. But designing my own book cover....Yikes! I really had NO idea where to start with this one. So I looked for inspiration and then sent my editor some really rough ideas for the title design. And I’m talking REALLY rough:

We decided to take the word “My” out of the title...

But it still wasn’t gelling.

We tried to focus on a plain light blue or light teal cover:

Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling it. Neither was my editor.

We kept working:

One of the main issues was allowing me to draw the title for the cover. Some were concerned that it wouldn’t be readable enough. Eventually, I conceded to using fonts for the title, as long as they were handwritten-type fonts...And we came to three separate comp ideas:

As you can see, at this time we were still calling it “Art Journaling for Kids”. I showed these three ideas to my mom and she said that they’d better like the second one, or else she’d call them herself and argue with them about it! 

The second cover was chosen (thankfully!) and the subtitle was switched from “kids” to “girls”. We also fixed the “L” in “Doodle” and my last name so that it was more readable. But we hadn’t crossed the finish line yet. We had decided on a matte finish, with a spot gloss on the title bar. My editor emailed after test printing had started to tell me the spot gloss on the cover was cracking along the edge of the spine. We had to size down the bar with the title in it to accomodate the spot gloss. The bar would become a box and be centered on the cover so that the crease along the spine wouldn’t be covered with gloss. If you’ve seen a printed copy, you’ll know that there is a light graph background on the cover that doesn’t show up in the images online.

So there you have it: the evolution of the Doodle Diary cover. A long but rewarding process...