Last winter, I got the task to design the covers for a friend's doctoral dissertation. Here's how I worked.
Decide a concept
The client hoped to have some visuals hint about joint replacement surgery, so that the book's topic would be apparent without reading the title. First, I looked at some reference photos of joint prostheses.
My first idea was to make an illustration like seen in medical books, but with less realism and more artistic textures. I looked at some references and drew an illustration of a knee prosthesis with my iPad and Apple Pencil. This step took a few hours. I used a watercolour-like brush to have some of that effect.
Make some drafts
The client immediately liked the illustration and wanted to see some example book layouts. I made some really basic versions for him to comment.
Make more drafts
The WIP designs don't look amazing, but with explorations like this, we were able to decide the font. I didn't like the solid backgrounds so I made some textured ones with ProCreate.
The client really liked this direction and style.
I also wanted to design a more commercial-looking alternative. I made some vector art resembling an X-ray of a knee prosthesis, and laid out the text in an interesting way.
After some more explorations, I sent a shortlist of ideas to the client. He was quick to decide his favourite, and I made a set of versions based on it.
Tweak and publish
From here, I only needed to make small changes until the client was happy. Here's the finished cover:
I then made a back cover in the same style, and the book was ready for printing!
This process was very fun and taught me a lot. In total, I made about 100 versions of the cover. This type of work is definitely out of my comfort zone, and I think the quantity helped a lot.