Julian from our design department takes us through the process that lead to the striking cover for Destination Berchtesgaden, the history of the US 7th Army during World War II.

Stage one - The Brief

Destination Berchtesgaden proved to be a real challenge to come up with artwork for. For a start, time was against us and we had to put some sort of cover forward to meet distributor deadlines. So in my mind I was designing more a place holder cover rather than final artwork. 

Things were complicated further because we didn't have any images of Hitler's mountain retreat or the US 7th Army from our previous series books. We were going to have to start from scratch.

Stage two - Research

So, to begin with I did what any self-respecting designer would do - I went on Google. After a quick search, I found this image.

mountain ranges
I was immediately impressed with the panorama of this image, Hitler's retreat nestled between stunning mountain ranges. There was a snag, however, and it was a big one. This and many other images showing Hitler's retreat were taken in peace time, with tourists enjoying the views with an array of parasols to protect themselves from sun burn rather than gunfire. 

I decided to keep trawling through Google images until I stumbled across this picture.


Though this image was in a pretty poor state, I wondered whether I could use as a base for more original artwork. Using different treatments and colours, we might be able to achieve the feel we wanted, and it meant I could finally get creative!

Stage three - Design

Using Adobe Illustrator I began to trace the image in a more simplified way to put across the essence of retreat against the grandure of the surrounding peaks. Initially I created this slightly spooky image.


It certainly shows Hitler's mountain retreat in stark contrast, but I felt the location needed to show more of the surrounding mountains to give the message that this retreat was pretty much impregnable.

The cover also needed font, which was a research project in its own right. I thought that this nostalgic Germanic font from this wonderfully titled old edition would fit perfectly. 

font example

With these things in mind, I went to work to update the image. And I was quite pleased with the result. 


Finished? Well not quite. We never design just one cover, as what suits the eye of the designer doesn't always suit the eye of the general public. So for every Osprey general book we design 3 to 4 covers, each exploring a different theme or idea, to present at the all important publishing meeting. One down, three to go... 

Stage four - Other covers

Fortunately I was in luck, as the Editorial department (with its impeccable timing) and the author of the book, choose now to send me a series of great images. These different pictures would form the basis for 3 distinct new covers.


This is a fantastic image, and the lone soldier seemed to sum up the composition really well; looking up in wonder at this man-made monolith and all it represents. This became Concept 2 

concept 2


This is another great image, with victorious American soldiers admiring the view once enjoyed by Hitler. What struck me as a designer was the simplicity of the natural silhouettes of the soldiers against the back drop of mountain. I simply enhanced the image to bring out the individual soldiers in Concept 3.

concept 3


This image doesn't feature the Eagle's Nest itself, but American troops advancing beside a destroyed bridge was evocative in its own right. This, I thought, was perfect for a slightly more academic look, enhanced with typography sitting within a red band - or Concept 4 as it became.  

concept 4

Armed with these concepts, I went off to the fortnightly meeting which decides which covers will be used. And unanimously, Concept 1, designed all along as a place holder, was chosen. Strange how these things work out!

To finish, here's another great image that we didn't have space for. Thanks for taking a look at what we designers do - just hope we chose the right cover!