The human face is instantly recognisable, and can be the centrepiece of an eye-catching image. Whether celebrating the great and the good, or offering a perspective on a personal, interior world, the use of portraiture is strong on this year’s shortlist.

Amanda Arlotta: Violeta

This book cover commissioned by Penguin Random House features the story’s protagonist Violeta. This softly sensuous illustration captures her beauty and youth, as well as the finality of life.

David Humphries: Moby Dick

This mixed-media speculative book cover features an abstracted, period silhouette style portrait. On closer inspection, we see his face is constructed from the shape of a whale, and a cohesive image is formed from the wood-cut texture and linear patterns that form the ocean waves.

Isaac Spellman: Love after Love

This magazine cover features author Eileen Chang, whose book Love after Love has recently been made into a film. The image feels both contemporary and traditional, capturing the author with elegance and poise.

Christian Inaraja Genís: Poetry Book Cover

This charming illustration is inspired by the book’s author who dedicated it to his daughter. Christian decided to create a portrait of his own daughter. The naive style and bright colours create an inviting book cover for the reader.

Erin Royce: Rachel Carson

This conceptual illustration of the scientist Rachel Carson features elements of her environmental work ‘Silent Spring’ to create an understated poignancy echoing the tragic decline faced by the environment.

Ruxue Chen: She and Her

This series of digital self-portraits show different representations of the self. Using variations on perspective, repetition and scale, they show how one can exist in the modern world.

Fiona Hewitt: Double Happiness Ocean Dreams

This nostalgic illustration reminisces on a childhood spent growing up by the coast in Scotland. It features an array of sea creatures and patterns created from memorabilia to create this piece that is a homage to kitsch.

Wyn Godding: Your Face Is Not Your Own

This softly textured piece is made as a speculative illustration in response to an article. The peeled back pixeled square shows how we can no longer control our image online.