Roald Dahl Book Cover Design and Illustrations
September 01, 2016

Roald Dahl Book Cover Design and Illustrations

When I was studying in the HND illustration course, one of my teachers gave us a project to illustrate and design four book covers from Roald Dahl‘s book “Kiss Kiss” short stories collection. This was the first time I had read a Roald Dahl story.

Before I read “Kiss Kiss”, I thought “Ah! Roald Dahl’s books must be child friendly but he wrote a lot of great stories for children!”. But after I read the first couple stories from this book it was mind blowing. First, these definitely aren’t children’s stories. The stories in “Kiss Kiss” are quite creepy and scary and involve stories of the dark side of humanity, murder and even cannibalism. This book is very easy to read so I had no problem understanding it even with my English. The length of each story is perfect as well, as I don’t have a lot of time to sit down and read for myself as I have a four year old daughter. So this kind of short story collection is perfect for me as I also love films and books that contain horror, serial killers etc. A lot of the time when I’m illustrating cute and happy things I’m actually watching horror films at the same time.

So recently I started a personal “book cover illustration and design” project and I decided to go back to illustrate some of the stories from “Kiss Kiss” in my current illustration style. One of the book covers is based on another short story collection from Roald Dahl called “Someone Like You“. I also wanted to use this project to prove that I can illustrate something more mature, dark and less happy.

The stories I choose to illustrated from Roald Dahl’s book are:

Lamb To The Slaughter 

For this book cover, I decided to illustrate a lamb leg, if you’ve read the story you know the “lamb leg” actually plays an important role in this story. I made the trimmed part of the lamb leg look like a silhouette of a lady to try to engage the read. I decided to illustrate a raw lamb leg because I’ve found a lot of people are disgusted when they think about “raw meat”. Some people even feel extremely uncomfortable to touch or smell raw meat – it’s almost like a kind of raw meat phobia. I used this kind of uncomfortable feeling and phobia to build up the atmosphere of the story.

Mrs. Bixby and Colonel’s Coat 

I decided to illustrate a black mink coat right after I read the story. This story is about adultery and betrayal. I illustrated a black mink coat just like the one in the story. It’s my first time illustrate a mink coat and they are not the easiest thing in the world to illustrate! I had to look for a lot of fashion illustrations from other illustrators to figure out how to illustrate a mink coat and the most challenging was creating the right texture. I used a lot of “wet paint brush” in Adobe Illustrator for this mink coat to try to get the fur texture and I used a bright red colour for the background because it has an alluring look. The colour red also means “seduction and forbidden to me”, it’s very sexual and it contrasts perfectly with black.

Royal Jelly

This story is about bees, a creepy father, a worrying mother and a very sick baby who refuses to eat anything. I decided to illustrate a baby sitting on the floor with lots bees on it. I didn’t illustrate a “face” on the cover as quite often adding a face can damage one’s imagination. If I see a face on a cover and don’t like the face or don’t think it’s believable, this will instantly make me want to not read that book. So to date I haven’t drawn a person’s face on a book cover.

Another creepy and uncomfortable factor I used for this book is bees. I suffer from a little bit of “Trypophobia” so a lot bees crawling on a baby creeps me out. That’s how I got this book cover idea from. If you’re curious about Trypophobia, an excellent article about it can be found over at babbleout.com (here is the link for that article: http://www.thebabbleout.com/health/fear-of-holes-trypophobia/)

The Landlady

I use the landlady’s deathly tea as inspiration for this book cover illustration.

Pig

I use different parts and cuts of raw pork as inspirations to create this book cover illustration. A lot of people feel uncomfortable around raw meat and blood and this gives the cover a creepy factor.

 

roald dahl lamb to the slaughter illustration
Roald Dahl Mrs Bixby Illustration
Roald Dahl Pig Illustration
Roald Dahl Royal Jelly Book Cover
Roald Dahl The Landlady Book Cover Illustration
Roald Dahl Lamb to the Slaughter book cover illustration
Roald Dahl Royal Jelly Book Cover Illustration
Roald Dahl Mrs Bixby Book Cover Illustration
Roald Dahl Pig Book Cover Illustration
Roald Dahl The Landlady Book Cover Illustration

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