Reimagining the “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” Book Cover

Disclaimer: This design is for educational purposes only, and I am not associated with the book, author, or publisher.

Click on the images below for a larger view.

This week, I worked on applying all of my newly acquired Photoshops skills to redesigning a book. I decided to work on Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson. Hunter S. Thompson is one of the most famous literary journalist also known for “Hell’s Angels” and “The Rum Diary.”

Set in 1969, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas follows journalist Raoul Duke and his lawyer Dr. Gonzo on a drive from LA to Las Vegas. On this drive, they work on covering news stories, but the two also embark into the depths of a psychedelic world brought on by a drug binge. As news stories about Vietnam, Altamont and the Tate killings are shown to give readers a look at the society around the story, Duke and Gonzo see casinos, reptiles and the American dream.

My redesign process

The book was also adapted into a movie, and one of the most iconic scenes is at the beginning when the two are entering “bat country.” Raoul thinks there’s a swarm of bats coming to attack him and begins to swat at them. Additionally, Raoul’s character is heavily characterized by his white boater hat, aviator glasses, and cigarette. I decided to hone in on these symbols as they are so iconic to the story. In approaching the front cover, I thought of those minimalist superhero posters that hang all around my nephews bedroom. So I decided to take a similar approach for the cover. I drew the hat, sunglasses, and cigarette in Adobe Illustrator using the pen tool. I exported it as .psd file and opened it in Photoshop.

In Photoshop, I created a new 12×8 file set up for print. I used guides to set the space for the front cover, bind, and back cover.

The Background

For the background, I retrieved a picture of an old piece of paper. Then I created a fill layer and set the blending mode to “multiply” to make the texture come through. Then I created a new layer with a gradient from that same fill color to transparent because I wanted the paper texture to come through less on the front cover.

The Front Cover

Next, I created the front cover. I wanted to get the famous bats into the lenses. I placed a file using file > place. Then I used the quick selection tool to select the area of the lenses and then created a quick mask on the layer with the bats. I then set the blending mode to “difference.” Then I used a purple to pink gradient on another layer while the quick selection area was still selected to make it look more like sunglasses lenses. I set the blending mode to “multiply.” I wasn’t happy with the color of the sunglasses frame, which I originally made white, so I used a hue/saturation layer and set it to clipping mask. Next, I selected colorize. I moved the values around until I got a nice gold, aviator glasses color.

Then, I used brushes to create a smoke affect and set it to purple to make it look more psychedelic. I created two smoke layers to try to add more depth. I set blending mode for the bigger smoke cloud to “dark color” and the opacity to 59%. Then I created another smoke layer coming from the cigarette.

I used the font Trashhands for the title and Century Gothic in bold for the rest of the writing.

The Bind

For the bind, I wanted some of the smoke to be coming off from the front page. Then, I drew a large rectangle with the same fill color I used for the background. I set the blending mode to “multiply” and 40% opacity. I also added a drop shadow layer style. I did all of this to set the bind apart further.

I also created a smaller rectangle in a really desaturated purple that resembled black, to set the area for the author’s name apart. I again used Trashhands to write out the title and also the author’s name. I set the title at a larger font in black, and made the author’s name white. I also added a bat to look like it is coming out of the dark purple square and also gave it a drop shadow using layer styles.

The Back Cover

Finally, I started the back cover by getting a picture of Raoul swatting at the bats in the ever famous car used for the road trip. I used the quick selection tool and then created a clipping mask to remove all of the white in the background of the image. I then used the brush tool and white and black color to refine the selection. I later gave the bats an outer glow using layer styles to contrast them against the circle I used.

Next, I added the barcode and used the magic wand to select the white out of the barcode and then create a clipping mask. I wanted to bring in the smoke again on the back, so I used my brush tools again to create some smoke.

I then drew a text box to add the summary in the back. I set it to Century Gothic regular. It seemed kind of funny, just floating there in the midst of the smoke and bats, so I added an ellipse using the shape tool behind the summary in the same desaturated purple from the bind.





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