Cover design for a book series requires attention to, in addition to the usual cover design concerns, two aspects:
- Do the different books look like they’re in the same series?
- Do any of the books look too much alike?
This series by Katherine M. Lawrence lives in rather particular subcategories: Historical Fiction > Japan and Fantasy > Historical > Japan.
Even though we were straying away from the typical shiny three-dimensional representations popular in historical fantasy, we felt that the covers helps convey two important aspects of Katherine’s books:
- That these books are meticulously researched and favor authenticity of life in 12th-century Japan.
- The action and gravitas of the story(ies).
We drew from the thousands upon thousands of historic Japanese woodblocks in the public domain for iconic imagery, but isolating and stylizing the figures to give them an updated feel.
Cold Saké: the Beginning
We set the general look of the series with a novelette released before that introduced Yamabuki.
The design concept was to draw from historic Japanese woodcuts. We bought a font for the main titles, and improvised the rest. Because the Sword of the Taka Samurai series featured the same character—albeit younger, some years earlier—we decided to stick with the general approach.