Cristina E. Garcia

Document Design

April 21, 2014

Don Quijote for Twentysomethings of 2014

        Although I’ve never read the complete “Don Quijote” by Miguel de Cervates, I’m familiar with the story. In fact many times throughout my highschool years we watched the movie and read snippets from the book. During that time, my teacher told us that the book was one of the most influential books in the world, next to the Bible. It changed the way literature was written after it was published. On top of that, according to her, it’s the second most read book in the world.

        Taking the idea from a recent blog post I saw where they rehashed book covers for classic books, I decided to try my hand with “Don Quijote.” It was really fun designing this book because it started one way and completely finished differently.

        Initially, I thought about making it very minimalistic, only playing with the font, then setting that on a beige or white background. I started making words out of horses to recreate the feeling of craziness that in a way made sense -- just how like in the book, Don Quijote is driven into a world of fantasy by all of the books (and words) he reads about knights and chivalry. However, I didn’t feel content with this because I didn’t think Rosinante, the horse, could be all alone on the cover. After researching other book covers, they mostly had Don Quixote on his horse with Pancho on his side.

It was difficult because I had to recreate something that had been done a thousand times. After the failed horse font, I remembered our lessons on copyright material and decided the best thing would be to draw something myself. Not only would I avoid using material other people have used, I’d put something fresh on the table and I wouldn’t have to worry about breaking any copyright laws.

However, "Good Designers Copy, Great Designers Steal” did come into play. As I researched book covers, I would run into elements I liked. Eventually, I had a solid idea of what I wanted. I wanted an emphasis on the windmill/giant scene. I wanted an abstract depiction of the blades and the giant. I also wanted bold colors like many of the other books I had seen. I felt they called attention to the reader.


The image above was the first rough draft. When I showed it to a set of testers, they reacted well, but all conceded it needed more refining. They didn’t like how clean the lines of the windmill were, but the lines of the eye, were not as sharp.

        Also, initially I drew the rough draft on Autodesk Sketchbook Express. Afterwards I recreated the drawing on Photoshop. It came it out much nicer. With some help from tutorials, I was able to harness the power of the paint brushes and came up with the book cover below. It wasn’t difficult to make. The trick to completing this successfully was working with layers. Whenever I felt I needed to do over something, I’d just open up a new layer and restart.

        It was a little tricky when I had to make decisions about the alignment because structurally it is asymmetrical: there are two font bits on the right and the eye is not aligned perfectly in the middle. However, because of the eye’s alignment and the weight of its gaze on the title, I decided to put the by line and my logo on the right. Very clearly there is evident a hierarchy of information: title (biggest) is first, then by line (medium), then my logo. I made my “logo” as small as possible so it wouldn’t interfere with the rest of the cover.

        My favorite piece of the whole cover has to be the eye. I actually got the idea from The Lord of the Rings movies. An example of stealing what works and making something different with it.

        The audience of this book cover would have to be today’s twentysomethings. From the feedback I received, they were very happy with it. Most remarked how they liked the abstractness of the eye. Also, I don’t think there’s another Don Quijote book cover like it on the market, so I’m very happy.