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.
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.