Of all the books I've designed, this is one of my favorites, Happy Trails: A Pictorial Celebration of the Life and Times of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. For use in this blog, I had to scan the book jacket in two pieces and join them in photoshop. The scanner added some weird colorations which I negated, but the real cover looks a lot better, trust me!
B O O K D E S I G N A N D P R O D U C T I O N — This book was a heck of a lot of work! Every page is photoshopped. While all of the photographs are from the Rogers family archives, virtually every other piece of art used was from my collection or was photographed for the book at my direction. I scanned everything from original records, to my grandmother's jewelry (for Dale's early glamour days), to ropes and pieces of velvet, to theater tickets, to toys and New Year's Eve noisemakers. Let's just say it pushed the envelope for 2004 in terms of file size and color work for the printer for a book at this relatively small press run and price point. Hey, that's the way I roll! I have the awards to back up my work, so I get to do pretty much whatever I want to on my books. I'd say that my own book will be very similar to this book in terms of each page being photoshopped and there being a collectible or something vintage on every page as well as all of the text. ( I won't reveal the title yet, but it's good!)
Amazon has a great feature for this book called "Look Inside" which allows you to see some of the interior pages as well as the cover. When you click the link to bring you to Amazon, then click on their cover and you'll be able to see some of the interior pages. You'll get a feel for what the book looks like for sure. I was going for a family album look, so every two-page spread has what looks like rings in the center with a sewn-in leather binding like a vintage photo album. There are some good customer reviews too.
The book has been reprinted several times and is still sold in the Roy Roger's Museum in Branson. Missouri as far as I know. Shortly after the book was published, their last remaining son sent the publicist two of their trademark Roy Rogers' watches, and the editor and I both received one. It was absolutely great to know that such a close family member valued what we had done enough to send a gift. I always like to please the author, I like it a lot when a book sells well, or needs to be reprinted, but to have someone personally connected with the subject matter love the book and let us know in that way that it touched them, well, it doesn't get any better for me.
Sent in appreciation for the book by Roy Rogers's son.
A Note About the Cover Design
The cover looks fairly simple but was a true photoshop project.
First I scanned one of my vintage family albums complete with the green yarn tying it together. I scanned a piece of old leather and superimposed it on the album cover in a square, covering over the original album's embossed title type. Then I took a couple of photos from the book, one of Dale Evans on her horse Buttermilk and one of Roy as a young singer. I overlayed them on the leather in a way that made them look like they were 'tooled' into the leather, like a western saddle I suppose. On top of that I created an old photo border, the one with the frilly edges, and I placed a black and white photo of the two of them together with Trigger. I then colorized that photo, which isn't as easy as it sounds, lol. I spent a lot of all-nighters working to get the various pieces to work together in a seamless fashion.
After the art was finished with, I had to design the cover type, which in this case consisted of a LOT of words for the title and subtitle. And Roy's and Dale's names. And the two author's names. It was a lot of text and I messed around with various incarnations for a long time. I think I created 15-20 versions using different fonts and sizes, having to make sure it was all readable, that it didn't cover the imagery too much, and that it was pleasing to look at, with no odd spacings or awkward ascenders/descenders.
I'm VERY picky about my type. I customize the space between every letter and then every word—I'm not usually pleased with the way fonts are spaced automatically in paging programs, You'd be surprised at the number of graphic designers that just type the words and pick a font and never even think about the intercharacter spacing, or kerning as it's called. When I was an art director in charge of production designers, perfect typography was something I really insisted on, to the point of being nicknamed the King of Kerning and trust me they didn't call me that out of love, lol. I was a tyrant I guess, but when you're dealing with a book, everything has to be as perfect as possible or there is no reason to do it. In the end I think Happy Trails worked out quite well.
(By the way, the type controls on Blogspot are beyond rudimentary, they're maddening, lol. Sometimes it just doesn't publish the way I tell it to, or it publishes differently after an edit for no apparent reason!)