Cover to Cover

Posted on 22nd July 2016 by Sally Campbell
Great book jacket design is often based on the unique harmony of design and illustration, a delicate balance that has the potential to make or break a title in a sometimes rich marketplace. Stormdancer creator Jay Kristoff’s epic new fantasy Nevernight provided HarperCollins designer Cherie Chapman with the opportunity to create one of the most striking covers we've seen this year and the chance to collaborate with master-illustrator Kerby Rosanes. Writing exclusively for Waterstones,  Cherie takes us from concept through to print.

Nevernight was presented as an open design brief, which means that the whole team had a chance to come up with ideas and designs for it. I was intrigued by the fact that it was a new epic fantasy trilogy, and because the imagery within it seemed right up my street. I read the manuscript and thoroughly enjoyed the world, characters and their stories; there’s so much to pull from this book, so many possible routes!

I decided to explore what design could work across a trilogy instead of thinking solely about the first book. What really stuck me was the idea of the three suns: Saan (red), Saai (blue) and Shiih (yellow). They are central to the novel and rotate for nearly three years before they set into nighttime (truedark). I thought there could be something really nice in this idea, I just had to figure it out. I knew I wanted the suns to have a sense of movement. In the end I went with stretching the three suns across the cover layout so that there was always one displayed on the front, spine, and back cover. As the series progress the suns position would move across the covers, gradually sinking to give the impression they are also setting. I wanted other parts of the design, like the flaps that fold into the book, endpapers and the book edges to represent the darkness/shadows.

Image: Original rough concept

My idea was chosen to progress to the next stage.

I knew I wanted the central icon to be illustrated in black and white so that it would present a nice contrast to the bright colours of the suns. After looking through numerous illustrators I finally came across Kerby Rosanes’ work. I fell in love with his detailed ink style and I knew right away that he would be the perfect illustrator for this trilogy.

Images above and below: Illustration work by Kerby Rosanes


A crow was chosen as the main icon, because it is representative of the central character, and is a repetitive image in the novel: 

“The blade was crafted of gravebone, gleaming white and hard as steel, its hilt carved like a crow in flight. Red amber eyes gleamed in the scarlet sunlight.” Jay Kristoff, Nevernight


A crow in flight – and in an aggressive pose – felt like a good match for Mia’s personality and her quest for revenge (also great against the red, bloody sun on the first cover). What initially drew me to Kerby’s work was the way that he so naturally incorporates other imagery within his main illustration, and I thought this would add richness and significance to the icon. Exchanging ideas and suggestions for the detail worked wonderfully, and Kerby even suggested using a night sky within the bird’s wingspan, which I thought was a lovely touch.


 Image: Cherie Chapman at work


I do have some basic plans for book two and three but I don’t want to give too much away yet! I’m sure that once you see the full jacket illustration for yourself you’ll have a good feel for what I’m going for.

I really love the final illustration and design, and am very much so looking forward to reading and working on Jay’s Kristoff’s next book with Kerby.


 Image: The final cover design

"It is such a pleasure to illustrate a glimpse into the world of Nevernight through the cover. The elements and the level of detail I put on the illustrations represent some key themes from the story - dark, intriguing and deadly."  Kerby Rosanes


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