The Judas Bird was the first novel by Wake Forest professor David Evans. At first it looks like I'm being "typecast" as a designer for covers of pirate novels, but this book does not feature piracy as such a strong element of the story as Vow of Vengeance did. Instead, the island of Roatán itself, off the coast of Honduras, is the major player in the story, which was why he wanted an old-fashioned map on parchment paper as the cover.
This is a good example of how a complicated design gets simplified as the design process goes along. The author originally wanted a number of elements, all of which had something to do with the story, to be displayed on the cover. I came up with the first design above, which I still like for the skewed angle of the map, the random placement of the coin (called a cob) on top of the map, and the more authentic-looking old-style map fonts. But we all thought it was rather cluttered-looking.
After a number of rounds of pairing down and removing elements, the final design was arrived at. The map was faded out in the background so it was still part of the cover, but now the cob is the major, front-and-center element. The coin in the first design was a downloaded graphic from the web; the one used in the final design came from a hand drawing of a specific coin by the author himself. I digitized his drawing and used Photoshop to create the metallic shine, texture and lighting effect.
The parchment itself came from layering three or four different kinds of paper I bought at a paper store, most of which were parchment, but one was actually a sheet of handmade paper with pieces of leaves and plant matter embedded in it. That's where the big ripples you can see in the texture come from. You can also see a slight faded line running vertically that separates the spine on the left from the cover on the right. This line is repeated where the "parchment" wraps around the book to include the back cover and flaps. They wound up looking like the book jacket was actually pre-worn where it was folded around the book- it was a complete, happy accident resulting from the way I put the different panels of the design together in Photoshop.
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