Carmilla Book Cover Design

Client Hesperus Press

Format 195 x 125 mm

Skills InDesign, Photoshop, picture research

Carmilla is the classic vampire gothic novella, written by J. Sheridan Le Fanu. In the story a young woman who falls victim to a predatory, female vampire named Carmilla. First published in 1872, it predated Bram Stoker’s Dracula by 25 years.

Carmilla book cover design. Full book cover design for the classic vampire story Carmilla, designed by Roland Codd for independent publisher Hesperus Press. The book is written by J. Sheridan Le Fanu. The front cover depicts a creepy looking girl, dressed in black, standing alone in a wood. The front cover features a dark gray/blue duotone effect. The back cover features a quote – 'You are min, you shall be mine, you and I are one for ever', against a close-up of the trees from the front cover. The back flap features an illustrated image of Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu and a brief biography about the author.

Carmilla book cover design. Front of the book cover design for the classic vampire story Carmilla, designed by Roland Codd for independent publisher Hesperus Press. The book is written by J. Sheridan Le Fanu. The front cover depicts a creepy gothic looking girl, dressed in black, standing alone in a wood. The front cover features a dark gray/blue duotone effect. The title text, 'Carmilla', features a scratchy, distressed effect on the type.

The brief: Carmilla

Hesperus Press wanted a subtle approach for the cover design. I was told to avoid the use of any blood-soaked, clichéd images.

The design: Carmilla

I looked for suitable images from online picture libraries. Some images were unsuitable, either too modern due to the wrong type of clothing or too ‘vampire’ like – fangs, buckets of blood, etc.

In the end I chose a photo that focused on a character in a setting. I liked the image of the young woman who, dressed in black, is standing alone in a forest – it had the suitable creepy atmosphere that I was looking for. The image was already in black and white, but I added a slight blue-tone effect so that it appeared more colder.

My first option had the title at the top of the image but it was hard to read against the background of the trees. The title worked better at the bottom of the front cover. I added some extra black shading to make the reversed out title even more legible, and I added distressed effect to the text to give it more character.