Frankenstein Book Design

Book design for Frankenstein: or Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein Book Design by Jacob McAdam

Project Brief

Design Challenge: How can visual elements communicate dysphoria and the fragmented soul?

This book is about understanding an internal conflict by analyzing an external process or subject. These often appear as fragments which need assembling into a singular concept through a vague or unknown process. Once the fragments are assembled as a whole the conflict can be clearly perceived and used as a means for resolving the internal conflict.

Skills & Tools Used:

The Final Product

The final printed design is photographed in a series of images below which highlight chapter openers, text-flow across spreads, and the overall variety of typesetting design. Select spreads from the design reveal contiguous chapter flow mixed with striking graphic chapter openers.


All collages were cut by hand and photographed. These were integrated into chapter openers and in chapter breaks.

"Fish Face" collage from Jacob McAdam's Frankenstein book design
"I am Viktor" collage from Jacob McAdam's Frankenstein book design
"Owl Eye" collage from Jacob McAdam's Frankenstein book design
"Nakey Boy Bug Toy" collage from Jacob McAdam's Frankenstein book design
"Apocalypse Fairy" collage from Jacob McAdam's Frankenstein book design

Design Research

Research involved narrowing down options for a literary concept and type of medium.

Perception & Tone

The tone of this book will communicate elements of dysphoria and the fragmented soul. In life there are individuals who experience dysphoria. When this condition has stifled one’s own ability to function within the perceived “norm” we might take a look at ourselves to understand what inner workings have gone awry. Sometimes the discoveries we make are more haunting than admirable, especially when there’s a lack of guidance or clarity for resolution. This can leave the individual broken, incomplete, or disgraced. It’s often these “broken” individuals who create a perpetual deconstruction.

In application to the text: Frankenstein has issues which consume him—these issues are transferred into his work and manifest as a monster. The monster is a culmination of Frankenstein’s desire to understand himself among some of life’s greatest mysteries. In application to life: Sometimes people who are struggling never find solace. This leads to self-harm, child abuse, violence, neglect, or other undesirable outcomes we find within the family or society.

Sketches exploring concepts for the design narrative and layout.

Visual Langauge

Visual communication will reference both Frankenstein’s quest for truth and the underlying condition of dysphoria. Visually the project must portray knowledge, truth, conquest, and desire; as well as fragmentation, suppression, and dysphoria. Color should be dominated by a high contrasting value scale. Lighter colors could represent fragments while darker colors could represent internal conflict. Visual techniques could include: fragmented subjects, layers and depth, lost and found, disorientation. Subjects could include aspects of identity, deconstruction, reconstruction (from fragments of various sources), and a first-person perspective.

All images were hand-cut, collaged, and digitally enhanced.

A digital copy of the entire book design.


Frankenstein is a story about a monster who becomes a man, and his creator, a man who becomes a monster. This concept is portrayed through a series of collages which are folded into the literary work itself. The book design utilizes typesetting and layout which draws the reader into the story and enhances the experience with an assortment of original artworks throughout the narrative.

ISBN 978-1-36-420898-1

This was made by Jacob McAdam in “Graphic Design I” course taught by Mimi Sheiner at SFSU (2017).

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