A Clockwork Orange: Minimalist Cover Design

I’m a big fan of minimalism. So, when I saw a minimalist book cover assignment in the DS106 Assignment Bank, I knew it had to happen.

I recently finished reading [A Clockwork Orange](http://www.amazon.com/Clockwork-Orange-Restored-Text/dp/0393089134/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1368718245&sr=1-1&keywords=a+clockwork+orange), and it was more powerful than I anticipated. The book is also very dense with Burgess’ made up dialect for Alex and his gang, so I thought a minimalist cover might be a good juxtaposition with the way the book reads.

minimalist, book cover, clockwork orange

CC by Brian Bennett

My initial thought was to use a knife or a record for the cover because of Alex’s dispositions. At times, he is murderously violent, while at others, he is thoughtful and poetic, especially when he’s listening to Beethoven. However, I didn’t feel like those really carried the main theme of the novel. After some searching and some rough trial and error, I ended up using a dentist’s chair as the main image.

If you’re not familiar with the story, a chair plays a major role in Alex’s development. At first, it shows relaxation, or comfort. But, in the context of the story, it is a tool in a method of curing social disease. It is a tool where the occupant loses freedom, choice, and ultimately, self. It is a symbol of terror and carries the weight of the story along with it.


This should have been simpler than it turned out to be…it really showed me that I have to work on my understanding of layers, paths, selections, and how they all tie into one another. I began with an orange background as a base. Then, I added a layer with the original chair image. I used the eraser tool to remove a lot of the extra detail in the drawing, until I was left with the outline of the chair, with the armrest included.

Next, I converted the chair layer to a 1-bit pallet, and I used the “Select by Color” tool in GIMP to grab the outline in one click. Then, I turned the selection into a path and removed it from the layer. Finally, I changed the layer opacity to zero and put it on the background. This maintained the white fill of the chair, giving some contrast to the image.

Finally, I added the title and author using Helvetica Neue Thin font.

I’m happy with the result, and the only thing I wish I had done better was smoothing the lines of the chair. I tried using a stroke command, but I wasn’t happy with any of the results. In the long run, I decided this was good enough for now. But, I’m definitely going to go do some more research so I can improve for next time.

You can grab the image on Flickr.

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