Here's the final, client-approved version of a stand-alone custom cover for James Bond Dr. No. 50th anniversary edition.
He just wanted the one, noting that it is this particular film that is 50, not the entire catalog.
Those of you familiar with the film will no doubt see the connections to the title sequence. This was the client's idea, that the cover take inspiration from the credits. It's a very good concept, and could indeed be carried over to further Bond covers, making for quite a unique series of customs. With the advent of all the Bonds being released on Blu-ray, high-res screengrabs from every credit sequence could provide excellent raw material.
Not being set up for taking screens of my Blus, I downloaded the title sequence in 1080p from youtube and used screengrabs from that to build the cover. The youtube video had heavy compression artefacts and couldn't be used as-is, so once the design was nailed down I went in and rebuilt all the type. Perhaps a direct Blu-ray capture might have done the trick, but I suspect I'd still have to redo the type to get it crisp and clean.
Like in the credits, the basis of this cover is a blank, black background. In the credits, elements pop up in different corners of the screen at different times, but the big empty spaces didn't translate well in still form. After a little back and forth with the client, we settled on a subtle depiction of Dr. No himself in the background, after numerous attempts to use Connery were deemed unsatisfactory. What we wound up with bears more than a little resemblance to, dare I say it, Criterion-inspired minimalism.
The image of Dr. No is a heavily filtered publicity still, with some hand-drawn touch-ups here and there to not interfere with the text. I left it at a low opacity, but it will be more/less prominent on different monitors and printers. When it comes to subtleties of grey within black, it is difficult to make a call on how it will look in the final print.
Having the gunbarrel in the logo was also the client's request. The gunbarrel image of Bond is the actual one from the credits. According to Bond lore this is not actually Connery, but it is still authentic. All I did was center the figure a little and spruce up the colour of the blood.
I was trying hard to recreate some of the idiosyncracies of 60s design, ignoring my instincts to make everything ordered and level. The back was originally worked up to look exactly like a still from the actual credits, but again it just didn't look good in still form. The back as it stands now, is a compromise to cater to modern aesthetics, while still having some apparently random colour spots and the occasional weird line-break. I think it makes for a more exciting design. Turns out they used Franklin, or something close to it, in the actual credits, but that font didn't look good with large chunks of text (too blocky). I therefore exchanged a lot of it with Futura, which still feels appropriate to the era but is easier on the eye.
When doing a vintage-looking cover, I always try to limit the amount of logos I use, as they make everything look more modern. For studio logos I try to use the ones specific to the time the film was made, if possible. I didn't adhere strictly to that rule here, though. My one concession in this case is the DTS-HD Master Audio logo, besides the essential Blu-ray logo. The United Artists logo is so closely associated with Bond, I wanted that in there somewhere too. You will also note that I type out the credit blocks in regular type, not the modern-looking Universal Accreditation variety.
When doing commissions, the client has the final say in what goes or stays on a cover. The one thing I am delighted the client went for is the orientation of the Title Treatment on the spine. It is a brave choice to leave it looking that small, but it made sense to me to keep the exact layout of the title from the credits.
All in all, it's nice to sometimes do something besides fitting posters on the front. It's a lot of work though, to do something from scratch, especially when you're doing it for someone else and it takes a long time to lock down. In the end, this may not be to everyone's taste, but my client said he thought it was perhaps the best cover I'd ever done! High praise indeed.
Finally, the client wanted me to share this cover with anyone interested, so if you want a printable copy, just send me a PM.