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Graphic design is a creative process that involves conveying a message to the target audience. It is a combination of words, symbols and images to communicate a set of ideas.

Beautiful Boy is a book by David Sheff about his life as a father of a son who is addicted to methamphetamine. The cover page (attached image) has a photo of a man and a child, possibly father and child, that is shades of brown and beige colors.  

The intensity of the colors varies and it deepens towards the edge of the picture. Color intensity has also been used to bring out the facial features of the boy, and to show the difference in age between the man and the boy. Deeper shade of brown on the man’s moustache and hair has been used to bring out his age, while the softer shades of brown and beige have been used to bring out the boys juvenility. This image has not only been used for aesthetic purposes, but also to help the reader associate it with the book and create a certain perception. Proportion has also been used to show the differences in size, thus, putting forth the idea that the image is that of a father and a son.

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Texture refers to the surface quality, both simulated and actual. The texture of the given cover page is also actual and simulated. The words Beautiful Boy are written in red in a typeface with a finishing flourish. The word “beautiful” is not commonly used to describe boys. As such, it has been used to create deep sense of emotion and love a father had for his son. It goes to show the reader the life of the boy through his father’s eyes, his meth addiction notwithstanding. The The words are lower-cased and have the distinct shapes, which increase readability. The designer also managed to reduce eye movements by using short text lines.

Design principles

Balance refers to the psychological sense of equilibrium. This cover page cannot be said to have symmetrical equilibrium. Nonetheless, it does create a sense of informal balance that keeps the reader’s attention and keeps him or her more focused on the visual message.

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Perspectiveis an arrangement of objects in a two-dimensional space to make them look real. The designer achieved this by presenting an image of a boy cuddled by his father, which goes ahead to merge the general idea and picture that the writer wishes to communicate. Movement and emphasis in this cover has been realized through the use of a different typeface, and the color red which is a stark contrast to the main colors or brown as a form of emphasis. The red colored words have also been written on a background of white space.

Conclusion

A book cover is what the readers will first consider before buying the book, since this is what attracts them walking past a shop-front. Design is often a play on the human perception, as people perceive their environment with a help of their sensory organs. Perception is interplay of all the senses. Therefore, it is crucial to create book cover that uses all of them, as it is impossible to know which sense will be decisive. This has been clearly illustrated on the cover of Beautiful Boy by combining colors which appeal to the eye, as well as fonts where one letter leads to the other, thus, drawing eyes to the words ‘Beautiful Boy’. Meanwhile,  of the words ”a father’s journey through his son’s meth addiction” are written in a smaller but firmer font as a form of emphasis and contrast. To encompass all the above techniques and principles, the designer has created a variety of items that not only attract the reader, but also keep him or her interested, which is what the writer hopes to do. Therefore, the cover page of this book succeeds in calling to potential readers, and captivating them by creating harmony among all the elements found on the cover page. 

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