We’re talking about what makes a great cover today at Hammock. We follow some guidelines when we design a cover, but there’s a lot of feel to it, as well. I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts here.

I like to use bold fonts to deliver a sense of confidence and authority. A narrow font could appear wimpy. I also like to play with the size of the main headline on the cover. I usually like to see it really small and then blow it up really big to see what direction to go.

Juxtaposing the image and the banner
If you have a person on the cover, it’s important to play with the size and crop. Sometimes you have to figure out how much of the banner you can cover up and still be able to read it. With national titles, that’s not so important. Time or Sports Illustrated could cover most of the banner and still have an effective, instantly recognizable cover, but with our custom magazines and our clients, seeing the banner clearly is more important.

The role of the banner
A lot of our banners stay the same color from issue to issue. If they do change, finding the right color for that is very important. Sometimes, I like for the banner to blend in more with the image so that the focus is on the person. I don’t want the color of the banner to overpower the image in any way.

You also need to be careful choosing colors for other text blocks on the cover. You don’t want it to look like a Crayola box. I usually keep the colors choices to about two or three colors, with white or black being the main choice.

Finding the right person and shot
When a person is on the cover, their expression has to be engaging. You just know when you see a cover expression. Something about the eyes making a connection or the tilt of the head or the body posture.