This book cover illustration/design for "Coraline" by Neil Gaiman uses the front and back covers to show the real world, and the "other" reality created by the antagonist of the story, the Bedlam, to try and trap Coraline. The back cover is rendered more naturally to represent the real world. The front is rendered in a hap hazard, cubist inspired style to represent the "other" world that was created by Coraline's "other" mother, the Bedlam, who tries to convince Coraline to stay in this alternate reality. All Coraline needs to do to stay is allow the Bedlam to sew large black buttons over her eyes so she will be like everyone else in this other reality. The cover shows Coraline has passed through a doorway that was sealed with a brick wall to separate the house they recently moved to into separate flats. She had been drawn to the sealed doorway out of curiosity, and finds the brick wall gone. She's able to walk into what she at first thinks is the apartment next door. It turns out to be an almost, but not quite, identical copy of her family's apartment, with copies of her mother and father, as well as the neighbors. On the back cover, the doorway still appears to be sealed with bricks. A feral black cat from the neighborhood however has the ability to move between the two realities, and is able to speak to Coraline when it is on the other side. On the back cover the cat sits in the real world, but can see through to the other side, having the ability to travel to the other side at will. The spine of the book is designed to look like the structure of the wall separating the two apartments.
Below are some of my thumbnails. I originally had it in mind to just to a front cover to keep things simple, but the idea to use the front and back of the book to represent the two realities is conceptually much more interesting.
Once a direction was chosen I gathered reference, searching for pictures of Victorian homes, as well as taking photos of my cat and my son who was happy to stand in for Coraline. I thought more about the story, and decided that the mantle in the story was very important, and should be included on the cover. One of the reference photos I found of a mantle over a stone fireplace inspired me to make the stones look like teeth, and the sconces resemble eyes. Everything in the alternate reality was the creation of the Bedlam and seems to be keeping an eye on Coraline. In the final illustration the chair also starts to take on the look of a creature, with fang like legs, and buttons on the armrests that resemble they eyes of some creature.
I'm planning on creating some spot illustrations to further develop the look and feel of the book. I hope you check back in to see the progress!
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