New Handmade Book Design by Urban Reiver
February 13, 2012


The day has finally arrived that I am able to show off my most recent completed piece of design!

A lovely lady that I have known for a while asked me if I could create a one-off book to mark the Christening of her grand-son, containing  a collection of personal short stories.  Well, I was very excited, as there’s nothing I love better than working on a proper, traditional book.  Although, it was quite a daunting task considering it was somebody I knew well.  I decided nothing less than perfect would do, so set about to achieve this.

I began by taking my time choosing a good old-fashioned book binder.  I came across the cheap, the extravagant and the plain incompetent, but finally settled on one which looked just right for my price range as well as the quality I needed.

Then onto the design!  After carefully reading through each story to check for any typographical errors I laid it out on a book template I had created on Adobe Indesign.  I had to keep it simple in terms of text size and fonts as it needed to be suitable for a child to read.  The next stage was to illustrate each story – some had two images (as in photo opposite), some only needed one.  I played it by ear according to the story content and the space I had left on the page.  I drew the illustrations by hand, before scanning them to the computer and converting to vector files, then colouring.  My client and myself decided on a clear, cartoony style for the drawings, in bright shades to appeal to a young boy.  I love how well the printing has turned out on the lightly textured paper.

And then onto the cover!  My client and I chose a lovely baby blue shade for this and I began work on a suitable illustration.  As the sea was an obvious fixture in the grand-son’s local area and featured in several of the stories, it seemed very fitting to use this as inspiration.  I sketched out stylised waves and little boats by hand before scanning these in and also hand-writing the name “Isaac”.  The result was a lovely, flowing design that wrapped around the book, travelling from the front across the spine and onto the back.  The binder that I used commissioned a printer to print onto fabric which was then covered with a sealant – a great technique which allows complete freedom with your artwork.

So, the book arrived and it was fantastic.  Great quality, hand-stitched, also supplied with a fabric-covered hard slipcase and my favourite bit – a little ribbon bookmark, how sweet!  This is the second traditional book I have designed (I’ll put a post up on the first one later) and I must admit it’s far better than a flimsy, mass-produced novel.  For a special gift, it’s just perfect and so meaningful.  I’m so happy to have been involved in this project.  Thanks to Otterbookbinding for their great work on it, a really creative binder and highly recommended.