By Mark Sinclair

Vermilion Sands

The set is formed of nine novels –”books that are not only dazzlingly inventive, but that take on the societal issues of their day through the lens of imagined futures,” explains Vintage creative director, Suzanne Dean. “The graphic, stylised nature of the lenticular illustration 

[and] animation suited the futuristic nature of the series.” (The set will be available in the publisher’s international markets, but will not be released in the UK.)

The most challenging part of the design process, Dean explains, was working out how to space the lines on the acetate sheet and within the graphic image in order to make it move. “It took a lot of adjustments,” she says. “The images work on the principle of a frame animation with the gap between each bar being an equal division of a single black bar. As the acetate is moved across the book cover, the next frame of the sequence in revealed creating the effect of a moving image.”

A video of the various animations can be seen below.

“Until you drew the acetate over your cover, you had no idea if the image you had created would animate as you had intended,” Dean adds. “The images were refined in black and white, then the colour was added.”

When the nine books are turned over – and correctly aligned – they reveal Centrifugal, Centripetal Structure, a 1965 artwork by Italian artist and designer, Franco Grignani.

“The black and white line complements the lenticular theme of the fronts,” says Dean. “We always split a single image across the back covers of all our A-format series. I think the Vintage Future covers are the most successful, as the Grignani image has proved the most challenging to piece together. It also perfectly echoes the linear quality of the front cover illustrations.”

The full series, with comments from the Vintage cover design team, is as follows:

Vermilion Sands by JG Ballard
A collection of short stories transporting the reader to a dystopian future. Playing with the ideas of time – and the desert setting – the cover can be interpreted as the sands of an hourglass.

The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The female figure emerging from the redness represents the breaking free of Offred from the system of subjugation in this dystopian novel.


We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
The title of this book is a real a gift in that it can become an image in itself, and used to play on the themes of uniformity and loss of identity. The title is repeated in a grid formation where ‘We’ and ‘Me’ are one and the same.

Slapstick or Lonesome No More

Slapstick or Lonesome No More by Kurt Vonnegut
After attempting a head-scratchingly complicated image involving the Empire State Building and helicopters, we realised that this cover just needed a simple, witty graphic that conveys the exaggerated laughter and pain of Slapstick.

The Plot Against America

The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
What else could say America more instantly than stars from the star spangled banner?

The Foundation Pit

The Foundation Pit by Andrey Platonov
The cogs represent the foundations of the soviet system with the people working together.

The Aerodome

The Aerodrome by Rex Warner
The rotating blades of the plane were a great element to animate and perfectly summed up the narrative.


Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Describes a form of Utopia – a feminist paradise where the inhabitants exist free of disease and poverty. Set in the Amazon, the lenticular mirrors this concept with a rainforest ecology functioning with almost clockwork precision.

Brave New World

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Alludes to the conditioning the human embryo for its pre-destined caste – depicting it as a repetitive, emotionless process.

The Vintage Future series is out on April 7 (internationally, not in the UK). More of Vintage Books‘ cover designs can be seen at the CMYK blog at

Read more here:: Vintage Books’ new series animates the future