I decided to go with a book cover that was from the Nancy Drew series. This was something I read when I was younger and I loved the adventures. The Nancy Drew covers, along with a wide range of Ladybird books for children, were always drawn so detailed and literally drew me in.
The fairytale series are amazing but it was the range of investigations that Nancy went on that really intrigued me.
The character was conceived by Edward Stratemeyer and he wrote plot outlines but hired ghost-writers. Nancy was first introduced in the 1930s but it was the late 50s revised version that saw the most success. The books are written by ghost writers under the name ‘Carolyn Keene’.
The covers that appealed to me most were the range of ones from the 1940s created by Bill Gillie. They capture the era beautifully and represent what Nancy Drew was most recognised for; being a strong and curious teenager who wasn’t afraid to investigate.
Later editions didn’t hold the same interest and the books from this era were largely criticised later for their classist depictions.
The book covers were very consistent and always depicted Nancy at a key part of her investigation. Quite often she would appear with her friends on the cover, other times she would be alone and in near danger.
There was always a sense of tension, suspense and thrill about the cover and Nancy had a very distinguished look with her red hair and often blue coloured clothes.
In this image Nancy and her two friends are on the cover, looking cautiously around the doorway. We can see that it’s the ghost but the girls may not have caught a glimpse of it.
The cover holds our attention at a key moment in the story and makes you want to read it to discover what happened. Our eye moves from left to right, starting with the ghost, then Nancy, then Friend 1 and 2. The light from the flashlight directs your attention there too and the title and author have ample space and are clearly legible.
For a mock up cover I decided to take the same layout with the main focus for the investigation on the left and the right hand side featuring Nancy and her friends. At first I wanted to keep with the 1940s/50s vibe and use some of the styles and hair from that era.
As I began to sketch it out though, I felt my version had to be more present day but with an acknowledgement to the style of the past. I did a quick mock up in PS to see what way I wanted to do this, using various modern images of women that trekked.
I felt these would represent the same type of curiosity and fearlessness that Nancy had, but bring it into something more relatable. Next I tried out the images and layered them with a lighthouse image that had been flipped and adjusted to suit. A few other images of sky and lightening were also added to give some sense of danger and intrigue to the place.
The positions of the women worked well I felt so I went on to the next stage and used my light box to get a cleaner background and foreground image.
I used a pencil and brush pen on the light box then scanned them in separately and created a PNG file for the image of the 3 women.
Next I used PS to layer the image and printed it off a few times to experiment with various mediums and figure out which one would work best. The mediums used were pencils, markers and then digital colouring. I didn’t have thick enough paper to use watercolour or acrylic, and using cut out paper didn’t catch me as something I could do for this type of drawing.
The results were mixed. The pencils and markers didn’t scan well and even with some adjustment I felt they just underwhelmed. The digital version may have had more scope to play with but the length of time it took to do the pencils and markers left me with little patience to play around with PS. I don’t have enough skill in it yet to fully utilise all the brushes and techniques, so what I ended up with is a very amateur hour finish.
Overall, I felt that the best image was the simple black and white one, but that wasn’t close to what I had wanted to achieve so that felt a bit disappointing.
Doing it again I think I’d see if there was a better way to print the image onto higher quality paper. My printer isn’t the best so I might try a printer shop. From there I might try watercolours or acrylics to see if that would work, but it would be the lightest layer possible.
End result is that I am happy with the cover layout, but disappointed with the mediums used. There is clearly something missing here so a bit more experimenting would be worth it.