Ben Hur Book Cover Design

Client Hesperus Press

Format 195 x 125 mm, paperback

Skills InDesign, Photoshop, picture research, art working

Ben Hur, first published in 1880, is probably better known from 1959 film version, which starred Charlton Heston. Growing up in the 1980s, I remember it as being a regular fixture on Bank Holiday television schedules. Ben Hur, written by Lew Wallance, told the story of Judah Ben-Hur – a fictional Jewish prince from Jerusalem. A Roman slave at the start of the novel, he later became a trained solider and a charioteer.

Ben Hur book cover design. The front cover shows the a close-up of the left should of an armoured Roman soldier against a fiery looking background. The image is dark and moody. The title ‘Ben Hurr’ is split across the cover and is in a Roman looking typeface and has a weathered stone texture effect applied to it.

The brief: Ben Hur

Hesperus Press wanted to reprint the novel to coincide with a new film adaptation. The brief was to try and make the cover look like a modern film poster.

The design: Ben Hur

For inspiration I looked at examples of modern day blockbuster movie posters. These included Marvel Studio’s films The Avengers, Thor, Captain America, etc., and recent ‘biblical’ epics Noah and Exodus. I approached the design with an idea that I would need to artwork several images together.

The first options I presented to the client included combinations of Roman stadiums, chariot racing and roman soldiers/gladiators fighting. I wasn’t happy with the end result – the covers looked too cluttered and over-complicated.

In the end, the best approach for the budget, was a more simple solution. I found a photograph of a group of actors re-enacting a Roman battle. From this image I isolated one of the soldiers. This was a close-up of the shoulder of an armoured Roman soldier, who was staring into the distance.

I added extra colour and shading to make the image appear more dramatic, and replaced the background with some fiery-looking clouds. For the title I chose a Roman-looking typeface and added a stone texture with weathered effect, which gave the type more impact.