mathematical exploration

Cover redesign of The Fourth Dimension

Cover redesign for a book on mathematics … and philosophy

The science philosophy book “The Fourth Dimension” by mathematician and author Rudy Rucker has been on my bookshelf since the 80’s. Unfortunately, in the years since I first read this book, the dust jacket from the original Houghton Mifflin edition was lost; plus, I didn’t care for the version on the Dover republication. I decided I needed a new cover for this book and set out to create one.

The Fourth Dimension, Cover Mockup by Paul Nylander

The book is a great mind-bending journey into a world of imagination, where the concept of a fourth spatial dimension almost can be visualized. Capturing this idea in the mere two-dimensional space of a book cover would be challenging. The design started, as any cover would, with sketches.

The Fourth Dimension, cover ideas by Paul Nylander

After rereading the book, I created dozens and dozens of ideas to covey both the information of the title and author, as well as a hint of the concept of the book. And create and engaging shelf and catalog presence.

The Fourth Dimension, Box Imagery by Paul Nylander The Fourth Dimension, Box Imagery Paul Nylander

In the end, to convey the visual concept of dimensionality, I settled on the simple notion of a box to represent our three-dimensional space. The fourth dimension could be considered, simplistically, to be this box placed within another box. Within yet another box, to reinforce the beginnings of the idea of an infinite number of boxes within boxes.

Building the boxes provided an excuse to play around in the 3D rendering software SketchUp. But colors and shading were ultimately added in Adobe Illustrator. From this basic idea of boxes, I played with scale and a contrasty color scheme to emphasize the physicality, and create a more visually jarring appearance. The title and subtitle were incorporated

Other details were also included, such as the impossible shadow representation of the authors name, and the pattern of flattened hypercubes (as also used in the foil stamp of the book jacket).

The Fourth Dimension, Cover Mockup by Paul Nylander
The Fourth Dimension, Cover Mockup by Paul Nylander

Envisioned as a dust jacket (as originally found on the book), inside flaps were created to continue the visual styling to the inside cover. Final printing on heavy stock completed the fun personal project.

Explore Other Projects…

Design is process of creative problem solving as applied to challenge of controlling how a user (i.e. a reader) interacts with their environment (i.e. the book). While Book Design isn’t writing, editing, or illustration, it affects the success of all three. It is part production minded, and part visual story-telling.

learn more about paul nylander and illustrada design

I encourage you to step through my recent projects and learn for yourself how I have applied a design process to a variety of different challenges. Or jump back up to the overview.