Designing 3D covers for Random House's new Vintage line of classic novels

Vintage Books, an offshoot of publisher Random House, has just released a new imprint of classic sci-fi and horror novels that have anaglyphic 3D covers that leap out at the reader when viewed using traditional red-and-blue glasses (which are included with each book). We caught up with Random House creative director Suzanne Dean to find out how they were created.

The five books in the series are Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne, The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle and The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Tales by HP Lovecraft. Each features a 3D artwork created by a different illustrator, plus 3D typography.

"The 3D cover is an idea I thought of a long while ago and had been holding onto until the right book came along," says Suzanne. "This sci-fi project, with all its B-movie connotations, was the perfect match."

Suzanne notes that the covers also had to look good in 2D, to draw potential buyers in on bookstore shelves. Creating illustrations that work in 3D proved tricky for some of the illustrators, and Suzanne had to change illustrators twice for two of the books, as the work she received didn't work in both 2D and 3D.

"Creating a 3D image relies on the position of the red to the blue tones," she says. "Yellow and black stay on the same plain when looking through the glasses. This information was crucial to creating covers that looked attractive in 2D, but then had the added value of becoming interactive when you put the glasses on."

The Planet of the Apes illustration was by Mick Brownfield, The Lost World was by Sara Ogilvie, The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Tales was by Vladimir Zimakov. Both Jules Verne book artworks were created by Jim Tierney.

Suzanne says that she chose the illustrators "because their work was graphic, has the kind of defined linework that would translate well to a 3D illustration, yet hold together without the use of 3D glasses.

The illustrators were given guides on how to create 3D images, including how the split the reds and blues. Both the roughs and the final designs were tested using 3D glasses, so the illustrators could make adjustments for the maximum impact.

"It was a real team effort to produce the covers," says Suzanne. "Four designers were involved, and it was one of the most excitable cover meetings ever when we presented the series -- and everyone took turns to try on the 3-D specs."

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