Little Monsters of the Ocean: Book Design

Little Monsters of the Ocean

By Danielle Carnito, Trade Art Director

I’ve done my fair share of designing books about ocean life, and it doesn’t get old. Despite my inability to appreciate visiting aquariums (sorry, folks, I have no logic behind that. But I do enjoy watching jellyfish.), I love images of the creatures themselves and working them into a design. I love the shapes and unique adaptations of the critters, I love the colors, I love the otherworldly appearance of these creatures that live in a completely different habitat than we land-dwelling organisms. Underwater photography is always a monstrous challenge, and in the case of our book Little Monsters of the Ocean by Heather Montgomery, even more so as were dealing with metamorphosis—images of microscopic to very small sea life.

The book design has its own metamorphosis as I was working on it. You don’t get to see the early design drafts, they’re not nearly so engaging as the images of the critters. Really. Have you SEEN the picture of the Phyllosomas eating a jellyfish?

little monsters of the ocean photo

Mostly I try to keep out of the way of images while designing a book to let them shine, but i realized as I was working that this particular book required a bit more. Not many of the images were large enough to reproduce at a large size — even very cool images need to be a high enough resolution to print at full page —  so a few more design elements than my usual were in order. Creepy-ish display type fits the theme, alternating between orange and blue between main text pages, secondary pages and sidebars gives some grat contrast, and filling the pages with light- to mid-blue tones helps pages blend in with the water background of some images making to help the critters stand out even more than they would on a white page.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed putting together the cover and layout! And next time you visit an aquarium, enjoy the jellyfish.

More posts by Danielle.

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