This is How a Book Cover is Hand-Lettered
We’re big fans of hand-lettering here at Chronicle Books—sometimes titles drawn by hand bring just the right amount of personality and style to a cover design. Whether we use lettering chops of our own or work with talented artists, we often incorporate custom elements into our covers. Here are some recent Chronicle titles that feature hand-lettering, with snapshots into the cover design process!
This book is filled with Katie Daisy’s paintings and lettering, so it was a no-brainer to ask her to hand-letter the cover. We wanted to give Katie a lot of room to be creative, but at the same time, we needed to be clear about the parameters for the materials that we had all agreed on—a separate front cover and spine, known as a two-piece case.
First, we created a very rough mock-up to give her an idea of the lettering style and color palette that we preferred. We chose a piece of art from the book’s interior to stand in for the front cover panel and just used some generic clip art to show how the back cover and spine could work. From there, Katie delivered rough sketches in black and white. We liked the sketch below best, but thought it would work better without the corner details on the right.
After this round, there were probably about three or four more back and forth rounds where we refined layout, color palette, and lettering to achieve our final cover. —Brooke, Lead Designer, Art
Initial Cover Mock-up:
The Quickest Kid in Clarksville is a picture book about a girl who loves to run and is endlessly inspired by Wilma Rudolph. After trying several different typefaces in various arrangements, nothing seemed to be matching Frank Morrison’s art style in the way I had hoped. I tried a few hand-drawn sketches of the title, and landed on one that seemed to work extremely well. The angled type conveyed the idea of motion and quickness of the main character, Alta. —Ryan, Senior Designer, Children’s
Start Now! is a guided journal and sketchbook of inspiring prompts for would-be artists; it’s completely hand-lettered and illustrated on the interior by author Kate Neckel. We initially designed a cover with a typeset title in order for it to stand out amid all the drawings around it, but it wasn’t quite coming together. The author suggested that she send us some hand-lettered options to try, and the energy and impact of them was undeniable! We ended up also shortening the title accordingly. —Emily, Senior Designer, Entertainment
Early Cover Design:
– – –
For more behind-the-scenes on the lettering process, check out Ryan’s post about the cover design of Old MacDonald Had a Truck. And for more hand-lettering eye candy, take a look at the Little Book of Lettering or, if you’re interested in trying your own hand at some lettering, start with the Hand-Lettering Ledger.
Latest posts by Allison Weiner (see all)
- Reading Rainbows: Books That Use Color in Big Ways - September 21, 2017
- Spine Design: 16 Sexy + Striking Book Spines - January 17, 2017
- The Awesome and Empowering World of Zines - October 10, 2016
Stationery for People Who Love Swearing + CalligraphyMay 29th, 2019
How to Go on a First Date with a PoemApril 2nd, 2019
13 Questions with Artist + Author Brian ReaFebruary 20th, 2019
3 Dangerous Ideas from Designer James VictoreFebruary 5th, 2019