All weekend has been spent working on the cover design for the Project Portfolio Upgrade and it is turning out to be extremely challenging. There is a lot of pressure that rides on the cover. It’s the first thing the audience sees. It’s the first thing they judge. It sets the mood of the entire portfolio.

I have been debating in my head how minimal to go. For instance, do I just go with text and no graphics? I have always liked the portfolios that go this route because it gives the impression that the designer has a certain amount of control and refinement. In a way, it peaks my interest more and encourages me want to open up the portfolio to see what is inside. However, minimal can be difficult to pull off.  A lot of focus is put on the font, size, placement, alignments.

On the other hand, I could go with bold graphics. In a large pile of portfolios, unique geometry and strong color can get your stuff seen. The audience will most likely  remember a cover with bold graphics and colors over one with a white cover and some black text. The problem I have with a bold cover is if not done right, it can come off as looking desperate for attention, and in some cases competes with the content inside.

I wanted to see if I can find that sweet spot right in the middle of minimal and bold. In other words, I want a design that shows a certain amount of refinement and control, but still keeps a similar language to what is going on inside. If you have seen any of my project pages, they use very bold colors and textures. Therefore, I want to carry some of that texture and graphic style to the cover, but maybe leave behind the color. This will help to tone down the loudness of the cover but hopefully still grab the viewers attention.

Below are some of the first iterations that I did. As you can see, I started out very simple and slowly built in more texture and info. I used the favicon of my website as a large graphic to overlay the spread which gives some movement to the page as well as provides me something to relate text to.














The last two images are what lead to my final design. I liked the idea of using layers of transparency to build depth and thought it could transition well into other parts of the portfolio such as the table of contents. So I kept playing around with the favicon graphic along with text and texture and ended up with the image below.






The above image was close, but I still wasn’t getting the transparency effect that I was looking for. I then brought in some large text and placed it in such a way that it appeared to slip behind the white graphic. I sized the text so that the “03” rested completely in the white zone and so that the viewer would read “folio” and understand that it was the word “portfolio” wrapping around the book.






Once the cover was complete, I carried over much of this language into the table of contents. I like the contrast of going from light colored pages to dark color pages so I inverted the background to get a predominately black spread for the table of contents. I also set up a grid to help place the text and create alignments and relationships.





I still have a few more pages to work on inside the portfolio but once those are done, I will start doing some test prints from various online printing companies (The image at the top of this post is just photoshopped. I haven’t actually started printing yet). There are a lot out there and I am curious how the quality/price differs from company to company. I plan to post on every step of this process so be sure to check back often.