Michael Rylander has designed advertising, logos, and all manner of great creative work for companies like Apple, BMW, Lexus, and Google. He’s also created a fantastic collection of Blurb books from portfolios of his work to photo books inspired by his travel.
Here, Michael shares some of his top tried-and-true tips for creating beautiful books. Read on and learn from someone who always inspires us with every Blurb book he makes. Plus, you can read more about Michael, Adobe, and Blurb over at Adobe.com.
Details, details, details.
The myth is that great designers and artists create masterpieces in an instant. But it rarely happens that quickly. The secret to any successful project, be it painting, writing, or design, is obsessive attention to detail in the revision process. While the basic idea can come in a flash of inspiration, fleshing out is where the real magic happens. Don’t shortchange the small stuff: tweaking font sizes, shifting colors, getting rid of red eye, etc. And don’t give up until you feel it’s perfect. It’s the details that will elevate your book design from the rest of the pack.
Proof, proof, proof.
The sweet little secret about Blurb is that you can proof your book as many times as needed before publishing, for relatively little cost. In the old days of traditional publishing, you had more limited proofing options; each proof was wildly expensive, and it often took ages to turn around. With Blurb, I always build in several weeks to see proof books. There’s just no better way to improve your design than by holding the real thing in your hands.
Keep it simple.
Unless you’re going for a scrapbook look, keep the basic design simple. Don’t go crazy with too many different fonts, sizes and page layouts. I prefer to let the images and text provide diversity, while the basic design structure provides the reader with a framework in which to view the material.
Size it right.
Choose a page size that is appropriate for your style of book. For example, photography books shine in the bigger sizes like Large Landscape (13 x 11 inches) and Large Square (12 x 12 inches). Even though a landscape format will play better with many photographs, I’m in love with the square format. It takes a bit more work to make crops feel natural, but it’s worth the effort. To me the square format feels modern and classic at the same time.
Mind the gutters.
Pay attention to images that fall across the gutter. In general, I “spread” the photos 1/4″ to 1/2″. If you’re using InDesign, this means that you will have two picture boxes (one on each page of the spread) that contain the same photo, with overlap in the middle. The amount of imagery that gets swallowed up will vary depending on page count, so be prepared to test and adjust your gutter spreads over the course of several proof books.
Play with paper.
Paper stock and weight are a personal choice, but I’m partial to matte finishes. The trade-off is slightly less dense blacks, but the overall impression feels more high end. And if you really want to make a statement, try the new ProLine papers. I love the ProLine Uncoated and ProLine Pearl Photo. These papers are much nicer than you’ll find in many traditionally printed books.