I listened to the audiobook of The Signature of All Things during my first trip to Kew Gardens last year and was completely swept away in the historical world that Gilbert created. I wanted to make a cover that represented the beauty and strangeness of this novel, while also conveying the core theme of connection. The title, Signature of All Things comes from an theory developed in the 1500s of all natural things being marked by God with clues as to their purpose to humans, implying an interconnectedness of all living things. This is what I wanted to capture in the typography that I used.
To begin with I sketched out the words, experimenting with different ways they could connect. I looked at creating swirling flower patterns that looped into the type. I liked this, but it looked a little too quaint and manicured, and the aspects of nature that Alma, the protagonist, explores are wild and mysterious.
The island of Tahiti is a key component to the novel, so I looked for plants that were native to that place. I discovered that the Strongylodon Macrobotrys vine is native to Tahiti, and it was a plant that I had seen on my trip to Kew. I decided to incorporate this, as well as some other vines, into my design. The Strongylodon Macrobotrys' vibrant blue-green would also be the base of my colour palette.
I drew what would become part of the final design on tracing paper, allowing me to isolate the different layers ready to import into Illustrator.
This was coming together, but was still looking a bit flat when I put it into Illustrator. I tried a few different colour combinations, but they needed more depth.
I took the design from Illustrator and transposed it into Photoshop, deciding to try some digital painting to create more depth. This worked really well.
The first iteration was a bit light, so I added more contrast, along with some patches of complementary red and orange to bring out the greens and blues.
Finally, I added a coloured foil effect on the text for an added touch of luxury.