Wednesday 19 September 2012

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A Novel Cover Up: Lorenzo Etherington on Muddle and Win by John Dickinson

A Novel Cover Up

A Novel Cover Up is a semi-regular feature that looks at how covers are made. Thanks to Random House Children's Books, today Today I have the great pleasure of having Lorenzo Etherington - one half of the Etherington Brothers - stopping by to talk about how he designed the cover for Muddle and Win: The Battle for Sally Jones by John Dickinson. All images in this post are copyrighted to Lorenzo Erthington and used with permission, and can be clicked to enlarge.

Photo of Muddle and Win by John DickinsonBecause most of my time is taken up with creating our comic books, I only take on book jackets when the book itself really inspires me. Muddle and Win was one such adventure because it is so alive with creatures and magic and weirdness - right up my street!

The first step of my design process was to create the logo. I feel book covers often work best when the typography and the art comes from the same hand, and I wanted the illustration to really hang off a bold and brassy title. The main lettering was created by hand, laid up in the center of all three of the initial roughs to give all the designs a common centerpiece. The proportions of the book were such that I knew I could have fun with the spine too, so I had to make sure the text would reconfigure nicely to run vertically.

Of the three initial designs two dealt solely with characters, one representing a parade of good and evil around the book's title, the other more simply showing Sally and Agent Windleberry with the hands of Muddlespot reaching up for our young heroine.

Muddle and Win Rough Draft Muddle and Win Rough Draft

The third design, which ultimately became the final cover, dealt more with the internal struggle of the book, that of fighting over Sally's mind. This is the cover that was ultimately selected and with a few compositional tweaks (the original had the eyes of Corozin at the foot of the design and a different pose for sally) I then went about painting the final design up.

Muddle and Win Rough Draft   Muddle and Win Rough Draft

I wanted the palette to be relevant to the story theme, and so used the red/bleached white to represent the heaven/hell divide of the book's protagonists. I continued this theme, using the smoke and various little beasties and characters onto the back cover and flaps of the final jacket.

Muddle and Win front, back and flaps

The black and white chapter header was approached in much the same way, with three initial ideas boiling down to one which again had the heaven/hell theme, albeit in a simpler, diluted form.

chapter header roughs

final chapter header image

chapter header in the book

And now the finished article!

Muddle and Win - Photo of one book standing on top of another

Muddle and Win Photo taken from Above

Muddle and Win - Photo of one book standing on top of another one that doesn't have it's dust cover on

Muddle and Win - Photo of the spines three copies of the book, the middle one without the dust cover

Muddle and Win - Photo of one book open to the title page, with another copy standing behind it

Muddle and Win - photo of one book open to show inside cover flap, with another copy on top, at an angle, holding it open

Thank you, Lorenzo, for such a great guest post, and all the brilliant images! Isn't it amazing how many stages there are to illustrating a cover? Look at all those rough drafts! Just awesome!

Lorezo Etherington is one half of the Etherington Brothers. The Etherington Brothers are the creators of Monkey Nuts, Baggage, Long Gone Don, Freaky Giblets, Von Doogan and Malcolm Magic. They have also worked on Transformers, Star Wars, Dreamworks, The Dandy, The Terminator and Wallace and Gromit and comics. Their clients include Dreamworks, The BBC, Aardman, Lucasarts, Random House, The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, David Fickling Books, Titan, D.C. Thomson and Simon and Schuster.

Be sure to visit the Etherington Brothers' Blog, and check out Muddle and Win by John Dickinson, which was released on 30th August 2012.

Enjoyed this post? Then check out the previous A Novel Cover Up posts.


  1. What an interesting post! And I love all the illustrations and photos. It turned out to be a really great cover :)

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! It is an awesome cover isn't it? It's so cool!