Whitney Manger on Designing for Tangled Webs

Whitney Manger is a senior designer at HarperCollins Children's Books in New York, NY. Her previous work includes the cover of Tangled Webs for Disney-Hyperion. Spine contributor Vyki Hendy asked Manger about her process for developing the cover. 


How did you develop the concept for this cover?

We wanted to do something really different and distinct for this cover. I started out creating cover comps of full bleed scenes – girl running down alley, girl in masquerade mask, girl with dagger, etc. But none of them felt special enough. So I decided that a conceptual cover might be better. I liked the idea of lace and luxe dress materials of the era, which also had an element of beauty that I try to capture in my covers when applicable. I started researching textiles and lace imagery and added them to my Pinterest board for this book (I like creating mood boards for fiction covers when I start the design process.) The Lead Designer at Disney-Hyperion, Marci Senders, pointed me towards illustrator Teagan White, who had samples of incredible, intricate illustrations of lace with lettering interwoven. Teagan was fantastic to work with and delivered stunning art for this cover. It was important to represent the grittiness of this period and the underbelly of London in which the story takes place, which is what led to the tattered bits of lace, set over a dark image of a cobblestone alley. The imagery in the lacework (ship, dagger, mask, key), are all components from the story.

The lace effect is beautiful, what technique did you use to create this?

I believe the illustrator started out with a hand-drawn rendering and then finished digitally.

How did you select the colour palette?

I knew I wanted the background to be dark, so the lace needed to be light in color in order to pop. Some light colors for the lace didn’t feel right. White, for example, reminded us too much of a wedding dress. The story has romantic and sexy moments (but G-rated, of course) between the protagonist and her love interest, and I think hot pink sets that mood.