Behind the scene: Tere Liye’s new covers

In this post, we write about each step from the entire process of Tere Liye’s book cover designs that our illustrator undertook, from the brainstorming to final design.

Chances if you have followed us for quite a while on our social media, you probably know that we’re given the opportunity to design covers for Tere Liye’s books like the best-selling Hujan and Kau, Aku, dan Sepucuk Angpau Merah. Now that he’s back with his new books (and also his old ones that also get new covers!), we feel honored to help bring his imagination come to life in the form of a beautiful cover once again.

The book cover design is easily one of so many factors in a book’s success. However, like how writing hundreds of pages is not a walk in a park, designing a book cover is a complex process. It’s a series of drafts and revisions. Let’s take look at how our illustrators tell readers a story—way before they crack open the first page.

01. Reading process

Editors outline the summary and the characters of the novels and send them in the form of a creative brief. The brief also includes production schedule, a blurb, and passages that represent the style of the author. Sometimes, however, we have to read the manuscript in-depth before starting to design. In Tere Liye’s case, we read some of the books prior to brainstorming to get a fresh take on the story.

During this stage, editors and our illustrators also discuss the details of the manuscript, including the authors’ and editors’ style preference. Who are the authors? Are they a debut or an established one? If the authors have published books previously, will the new ones be of the same style? Will there be sequels? Figuring out the details helps the illustrators build up the concept.

02. Brainstorming and ideas

When beginning to design a book, we’re constantly faced with many questions. How to speak volumes without saying too much in a cover? How to make it stand out against others in the bookshelves? The list goes on and on.

Since the goal is to sell books through the cover, it has to reflect the genre of the novel and it should evoke specific emotions. A romance cover should sweep off your feet. A horror should be able to make you stay up all night, scared of what’s under the bed. And a self-motivation cover should be able to motivate you to, well, at the very least, wake up early in the morning. You get the point.

People will only pick the covers that are eye-catching enoughIn online shopping cases, people would just scroll past your books if they don’t find it interesting. Good book covers work like magic to weed out competitors aka other books in the same genres, so having a good cover that looks great both in paperback or in thumbnail makes your books noticeable. Again, genre and audience are the two things that are worth-noting.

The brainstorming process is crucial as it allows us to see some information and details that might be missed. Other illustrators, despite not being in charge of designing the covers, are often involved during the brainstorming process. Alvi helped jot down some of the key takeaways, add some, and correct the wrong ones during this ideation session.

The key takeaways enable us to see what’s important in order to find a way to create something surprising and new, while at the same time embracing the established style.

03. Sketching

The illustrators begin by developing the initial sketches, in which they gradually build up idea until it takes to something more detailed than rough lines. It’s where the magic of imagination starts manifesting on a concrete medium.

Pencil to paper or pen to tablet, sketching is a process of freedom, and every illustrator of ours knows what suits them the best. Zuchal, for example, started sketching on his tablet as it’s easier and faster for him that way.

For Gusti, however, it’s always pencils before pixels. He does the rough sketch on a paper before starting to push the pixels on his Wacom.

05. Coloring and details

It has been said that “the Devil is in the details,” and that is true for this round of the illustration process. This is where the illustrator adds more details to bring life into the illustration.

During this round, the illustrator also explores a variety of color palettes to see what’s best for the cover and ensure that it looks like it belongs to its genre and represents the world that the story creates.

Details and more details.
Custom typography for Hujan.

One of the great things about designing a cover is that there’s no limit in exploring the possibilities. In Tere Liye’s cover, the illustrator aims to combine an excerpt of the novel in the typography to create a visual imagery of rain, giving the book an iconic look that is expected to make an impression and draw interest from audience.

Left to right: the initial sketch and the first draft of Tere Liye’s Hujan.

07. First draft and feedback collection

After putting the finishing touch to the covers, the illustrators present them in mock-ups which later will be sent to the assigned editors.

Left to right: the mock-up of Hujan and Kau, Aku, dan Sepucuk Angpau Merah.

The illustrators talk with the editors to get critical feedback in order to develop the cover that communicates the content of the book clearly, suits the author’s writing style, and appeals the targeted audience. We usually present two to three different concepts in mock-ups to show how they look in print.

Editors will be the one who decide what needs to be tweakedperhaps it’s lacking in details, the typefaces and colors are overused, or the overall look just doesn’t cut ityou get the idea. In Hujan, Zuchal tweaked the details of typography a little bit so that the letters, which resemble the water droplets, drop more naturally.

This phase is basically a process of to-and-fro between the editors and illustrators to get the best result possible.

08. Final presentation & handover

After a series of feedback and revision and the design is finalized, it’s time for the illustrator to send the digital files to the editors and publisher for printing process. Once the layout and all other processes are completed, the book will be printed, bound, and delivered to the nearest bookstores. The above covers are the ones you’ll see in shelves, and hopefully, the ones you’ll bring home.

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