Exercise: Making a mock-up


“For this exercise, you are going to mock-up a book cover. From your bookshelves or the library choose a book title that appeals to you. Read the blurb on the back of the book (or the whole book if you have time). Examine the design of the cover to identify what the brief would be for the illustration and establish the function you want your image to perform.

You may already have done an illustration you can use or you may be inspired to make a new one. If you are using one you have already done you may need to modify it in some way. You may need to play with the colours, edit or adjust the composition or alter the size or scale. Don’t make changes to the original.

Either copying the design of the cover and adding your illustration or designing the cover from scratch, make sure that you incorporate the title, author and publisher’s details.”

For this exercise, I chose the novel “Empire of the Sun” by JG Ballard


I saw this book and remembered my love of the film which Spielberg adapted from the novel.  I wanted to create a new image from scratch so after selecting the book I moved on to creating some rough ideas for the mock-up.

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I feel that most of these would have worked but for my first attempt, I tried to see how the illustration would work if I masked the Japanese naval flag over some images.  I found some images from the film adaption to work with and made some rough process images to see what would work.  I also found a very old rough drawing of some P-51 Mustangs I created which I also added.

Below are the process images of my first mock-up:

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I liked the look of this mock-up but I wanted to create something a little more minimal.  Staying with the idea of the flag, I decided to tidy up the fighters and play around with different layouts


This was my second attempt.  I liked the idea of the P-51’s silhouetted in the Japanese flag, the minimalist and artistic strokes of the flag, so I started putting together my final piece.

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I eventually finished the main image by drawing a new set of aeroplanes which I feel look quite accurate and blend nicely with the flag colour.

Below is my final piece:


I liked how the final image is rendered.  I would have liked to of added a few more details but did not want to stray from my main idea too much.  I think the font also compliments the cover quite well and fits the look of modern publishing.

I’m not sure how I fell regarding the “publisher” location or scale.  Reflecting on the final image I could have made this element more subtle as I maybe distract the main image.