Key Steps in Illustration: Making a Mock-Up

This assignment asked to make a mock-up, i.e. give clients an idea of what the actual artwork would look like. Most mock-ups seem to be quite close to the final artwork. In particular, this project asked to grab a book from the shelves, and create an alternative cover.

The first book I grabbed was this one: The hundered-year-old man who climed out of the window and disappeared by Swedish author Jonas Jonasson. I read it a few years ago, and enjoyed it a lot. I actually like the book cover already, because it is eye-catching and represents the title’s notion. I like the limited colour scheme, and vector-graphic flat style.

kat-illustrates-making-a-mock-up (1)

I researched a few styles for the same book from other countries, and I find it interessting, how some are very similar to this English example, while others are totally different, like the German example, yet still capture the book’s contents.

See various examples of the book cover – and als the film cover as inspiration – here: URL, URL, URL, URL, URL, URLURLURLURL, and URL.

Some other book cover styles I enjoy are the following examples. Basically to a good book cover has to be simple, and grab the consumer’s attention. I prefer illustrations to photographs, and I find English book covers more to my liking than German ones.

You also have to consider that nowadays quite a lot of people read their books on e-readers, and purchase the books in the e-stores. So the visuals has to be great also at a smaller scale.


I started off with some inital ideas as well as writing down my thoughts of the book’s content, and narrowing it down further and further to define the main elements I wanted to use:

I felt that the main elements I wanted to use was the old man with his slippers, and the window, as well as indicating the movement away from the window.

I created a few thumbnails, also inclucing the book’s back cover, which would give me the opportunity to extend the actual cover.

kat-illustrates-making-a-mock-up (6)kat-illustrates-making-a-mock-up (5)

I continued with creating larger client visuals for my favourite ideas, and also tried one colour visual to get a better idea of the effect.

kat-illustrates-making-a-mock-up (7)kat-illustrates-making-a-mock-up (8)kat-illustrates-making-a-mock-up (10)

I decided I wanted to try doing this cover fully digitally to develop my digital illustration skills, also because I like the vector styles for book covers. So I worked with Illustrator to develop my ideas.

Here are some screenshots from my work-in-progress / working files. I used the same shapes over and over again, and adjusted the scale, and colours somewhat, as well as trying out different compositions from my sketchbook.

As you will note I went with very simple shapes, and simple colours here, and only used the basic elements I thought would be necessary to convey the idea.

The next few images show the “final” mock-ups, and different options for the illustration, and overal composition. I used sans-serif font to create a modern look-and-feel.

I like the bright red in the next one, and also went for a bit more creative approach to use the type in this example. The type would indicate the movement of the man jumping out of the window.

kat-illustrates-mock-up (5-1)

Based on a quick survey among some friends, I found that the most popular layouts seemed to be the following three. According to my test persons, these were the ones they’d pick up in a bookstore.

kat-illustrates-mock-up (8)kat-illustrates-mock-up (6)kat-illustrates-mock-up (1)


Number one is also my personal favourite. Number 2 I find a bit too monotone and not exiting enough, while number 3 is a bit too similar to the original one to consider.

What I like about this cover is that the man takes up most of the space on the actual cover, and that the flower bed that is mentioned in the text is also part of the design. The back extends the cover by including the open window here. I also like the limited colour scheme, which mainly consists of black and red.

kat-illustrates-mock-up (8)

In the process, I went from the red font to the black font because the red reminded me too much of a crime story. I like the limited colour scheme, and the white background.

When comparing the mock-up to the sketchbook, you can see that I show more of the person than initally suggested, but I found that it works better.


As a last step, I also printed the mock-up and made it look like a “real book” to see if it works in the finished dimensions. I believe it does.

Key Learnings:

  • Working with Illustrator is getting better. While I still need some further practise, I’m getting better with working with the basic tools. I am planning on using Illustrator more and more, because I think it’s necessary to be able to work digitally.
  • What I found useful is to reduce the project content to the key elements, and then go from there. I think having only a few elemtns to work with, helped me not to overload the image, and leave enough space for the text.
  • Playing with digital tools to try out different colour schemes quickly helps narrowing down what works best for a particular project. I think I should use this more often earlier in the process of developing a piece.


Google picture search: “The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared”. URL, URL, URL, URL, URL. Accessed on Feb 21, 2018.

Buecherherz, “Der Hundertjährige, der aus dem Fenster stieg und verschwand”. Published on March 5, 2017. Accessed on Feb 21, 2018. URL

Kohler Online. “The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared”. Accessed on Feb 21, 2018. URL

Hanbooks. “The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared”. Accessed on Feb 21, 2018. URL “The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared”. Accessed on Feb 21, 2018. URL

IMDB. “The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared”. Accessed on Feb 21, 2018. URL




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