This module has been a journey for me and has made me develop in terms of both my skills and my goals.

Narratives inspired me to learn more about book binding. Because we only got to learn one type of bind in Narratives, I wanted to look at making books for different types of content with a variety of binds. I really enjoyed improving my book binding skills and practising different techniques. If I had more time, I would devote as much time as possible to making as many different binds and books as I can. My love of book binding is probably the key thing I will take from this year and this module made me realise that.

I went into this project with an idea that I was confident in and really excited about. I had the goal and so I decided to devote more time to learning my craft than developing my idea. However, changing my idea during the project was a really good thing. Although persuading people to read more classic literature is something I would still like to do, making this project more personal by persuading people to read the books that are the most important to me felt like a good move. Because my project became personal, I was more invested in it and I think it improved my project. My passion for my subject came through in my work and I made something I was really happy with and enjoyed the journey to it.

I had a lot of trouble with time keeping during this module. Although I set myself many goals and set time limits to them, I think I overestimated how much I could do in the time I had. In future, I plan to set more realistic targets and stick to my schedules like glue.

I have greatly enjoyed this module and I think it was a really good one to end the year on.



I decided to make a vlog for exhibition showing us putting our work up and the exhibition itself. I really enjoyed this format because it allowed me to capture loads of footage and arrange it how I wanted it. It also means I have a record of my first year exhibition that I can look back on.

I’m really happy with exhibition, I think I arranged it really well, my tiny recommendations went down a storm and I got loads of praise from people about my work.


Tiny Recommendations

I thought that the ‘Tiny Recommendations’ I made earlier could be a good addition to my exhibition. This means that all the books I couldn’t do for my final piece get included and I can recommend a huge amount of books in a really quick and accessible way.


I made about 50 but some of the books I put were:

The Cat Royal Series by Julia Golding
The Maximum Ride Series by James Patterson
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
The Fault in our stars by John Green
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S.Lewis
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
A Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde
North Child by Edith Pattou
Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman
Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas
Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
The Spiderwick chronicles by Holly Black and Tony Di’Terlizzi
The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
Perfume by Patrick Suskind
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Lord of the Rings by J.R.R.Tolkein
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
The Inkheart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke
The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce
The Luxe Series by Anna Godberson
The City of Ember by Jeanne Du Prau
The Uglies Quartet by Scott Westerfeld
The Troll King Trilogy by John Vornholt
I, Coriander by Sally Gardener
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
And of course The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

Every recommendation I made was individual so it was complete pot luck what book people picked up. There was only one series I felt it wasn’t necessary to recommend among my favourites and that was Harry Potter because almost everyone who wants to read it has.

I put all my tiny recommendations on a shelf underneath my main books for people to pick up whichever one the like the sound of. I’m going to put a sign saying people can take whichever ones the like with them and how many are left can contribute towards my feedback.


Making Final Books

The process of making my four books was a long and arduous one that I documented as much of as I could without wasting time.

I began by drawing up a template for the various sections of each cover and beginning with the sections that needed the most paper on them and outlining the eyes. I used plain cartridge paper because it was something I had in abundance and was extremely malleable when wet. It took a long time to make all four because of the time needed for the glue to dry, but I managed to keep to the schedule Alex and I made and completed them all in 5 days.

Every few layers, I made notes on them about which bits I needed to change the relief of and which direction I was sculpting in. This helped me to mould the covers exactly how I wanted them.

The advantage of working on all four covers at once was I wasn’t wasting time at any point. I would do a few layers on one book, then move to the next, do a few layers, move to the next, do a few layers, move to the last and by the time I’d done the layers on that one, the first one was dry and I could repeat the process.

Once the relief was to my satisfaction, I covered all of the books with a layer of newspaper because it gives a smoother finish to paint onto.


From here, I painted all of them with a layer of PVA then several layers of white paint to cover the pattern and any overlaps of the newspaper.


Once this was done, I was ready to add paint. I began by adding a base coat of the primary colour of each book. Once I’d done a layer on each, I noticed there were gaps and lighter patches on them where the white was visible through the paint so I added two more layers to all of them.

From there I began painting and blending the highlights and lowlights into the books. I realised that the strokes didn’t reflect the texture I wanted so I changed my technique to a stippling technique with multiple shades of each colour. This made blending much smoother as well as creating the texture I wanted.

Part way through painting I realised I couldn’t paint until the back covers were attached otherwise they wouldn’t be blended properly. I decided on soft spines so I made them out of softer grey board that I could manipulate into a curve and attached them to the front and back covers with more paper mache.

I made notes about painting on the morning of the last day about the final touches and improvements each book needed.


I managed to do all of these except scale lines. I decided against the scale lines because I wanted to keep the look of the skin being smooth but hard, like and exoskeleton.

I kept to the plan Alex and I made again here, even with the unforeseen work of having to attach the spines and re-blend the paint.

The morning I made my painting notes, I also made an update checklist on what I had left to do. I felt confident that I could do it all in the time I’d allotted.


I quickly edited the titles and set up my screen for screen printing them. I discovered that because my covers were 3D, I would have to print my titles on pieces of paper and stick them onto my books afterwards. This meant painting 8 bits of paper and colour matching them to what was already on the books.

I used my positives as a size guide and painted my papers to match.

While my screen was drying, I began to format my books. I started by converting the type to black and white. I knew I wanted to keep the same type because this type has always felt like an integral part of these books. With these as an image file, I could just paste them into my InDesign document.

I made my InDesign document slightly smaller than my book so that my book would fit comfortably inside. I decided to put roughly two chapters of each book in the middle so there was some kind of content for people to look at.

I found the ebooks online and thought it would be really simple to copy and paste the text into my document but there were a lot of unforeseen problems that I had to deal with. The text from the website lacked a lot of spelling and grammar so I had to proof read it several times. Because Saphira’s voice can only be heard in Eragon’s head, it had to be in italics and it wasn’t. There were no paragraphs at all in the text so I had to guess when to put them in. Some of the chapters were so long that I had to cut them off before the book exceeded 40 pages and finally the chapter starts and ends were virtually impossible to find because the only marker was the chapter title in uppercase mixed in with the text.

This meant that formatting took the rest of the day I had planned to screenprint my titles and some of the next day too. However it didn’t put me behind because screen printing itself was so quick.

I printed, cut and bound my pages with a pamphlet stitch bind because there weren’t many and I thought this would work well. I wanted to print my titles and stick them on before I stuck the book in because they wrapped round one edge of the book. Once they were printed, I stuck them on and I was ready to hand my books in.

I mistook which day the crit was on so I had to hand my work in without feedback but I think I have done a good job regardless.

There are a few minor details of my books that I’m not pleased with. Once the paint dried on the title and blurb strips, the end curled up and the paint cracked on some of them, meaning when they’re stuck down, they don’t fit seamlessly like they did when I was painting them. The end papers don’t stay very stuck as the book is open and I’m not sure why, I tried sticking them multiple ways and it was the same every time. And the exposed bits around the edge of the content aren’t colour matched to the level I would like them.

I don’t think these things are horrible, horrendous mistakes, but they are things that don’t make the books as flawless as I would like them and they are things that I will take forward and keep in mind when making books in the future.

For the most part, I am very proud of my books. I think they are beautiful and they will definitely be displayed on my bookcase after this project.


Tutorial 3 – 25.4.16 & Tutorial 4 – 3.5.16

I had two tutorials with Alex towards the end of the project.

At the first tutorial I showed Alex my paper mache test and told her my plans for finals. She told me that the best thing to do was just to get started on them.

They’re going to be very time consuming pieces so it will take a while and if I get started now then I have time to make mistakes and correct them.

So between these tutorials I began making my books and got quite far with the paper mache on two of them.

At the second tutorial, I showed Alex the headway I’d made and she was pretty worried. I told her how much I had left to do and she didn’t think I could get it done in time. We decided the best thing to do was list what I had to do, in order and how much time I needed to do it. If I stick to the schedule, I’ll be finished in plenty of time.

Things to do on finals

Paper Mache – 4/5 days
Format and Print pages – 1 day
Paint the books – 3/4 days
Print titles and backs – 1 day for setting up and printing
Binding – 1 day, possibly the same day as printing the pages or titles

On the Friday after this tutorial, I had a meeting with Alex to discuss some things and I showed her the progress on the paper mache. I was already keeping to schedule and was almost finished on all of them with a day to spare.

If I keep going like this, they will easily be finished on time.

Paper Mache test

I thought that paper mache would be a good medium to make my final piece with so I decided to do a quick test to see how it would work out.


First I started by drawing the lines on my base and lining them with paper.


Then once I’d done all the lines I started to cover it with strips of paper to make it smooth and flat.


Once it was all covered, I painted on another layer of PVA so that the whole thing would be really solid and smooth.


I then gave the piece several coats of white paint so that the printed paper couldn’t be seen through.


Then I began to paint the colour onto the piece. I had about 6 colours that included 3 shades of blue and 3 shades of yellow/brown so I was pretty limited in what I could do.

After having done several layers of light blue, I decided to add in some darker blue scales so I drew out my pattern.


I painted in the scales and covered the entire thing in another layer of PVA to give it a shine.

This was a good practice for my final books because I know know I want to use this medium and I know which areas of using this medium I need to improve upon.

I liked working in this medium because it’s good 3D work that isn’t heavy so could work for a book cover. For my finals, I’d like the general quality to be better, especially of the painting so I’ll need more paint for that. I also don’t want any part except the back and where the titles are to be flat so I need to make the entire face 3D.

This means everything will take longer so I will have to set aside a large amount of time to make my final books. I feel confident with enough time, I can make something really good.

Dragon’s in film and tv

I decided to look at how dragons have been done in film and tv to see how they’ve been portrayed and how their skin had been done. I also wanted to look at how the effects and aesthetic give an insight into personality and the history of the dragon.

The Desolation of Smaug

Everything about Smaug’s design is made to make him terrifying. His skin is full of grooves and looks really rough. The intensity in his eyes make him really scary. At Thorn (The red dragon on Eldest) is supposed to be an antagonistic dragon, he looks quite intense and scary so I would like to take inspiration from Smaug’s design for that cover.



Although a minor feature of the film and only seen in a very dark room, I really liked the dragon in Maleficent. The dragon is a transfigured crow that Maleficent transforms so he can protect her. I really like how his scales still look kind of like feathers as a nod to Diaval’s true crow form.


How to Train your Dragon

How to train your dragon has a variety of dragons with different skin types and features. This film does a really good job of matching the aesthetic of each dragon to its personality and movement. Toothless is a Night Fury so he’s supposed to be a huge, dark, flying shadow of death but his personality is also very playful and cat-like. His deadliness is portrayed by his skin and intense eyes. His playfulness is shown by his eyes widening and his cat-like movements. The variety of expression is something I looked at while designing my own covers.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

The dragon in the 7th Harry Potter film is very different to the Hungarian Horntail in the 4th film or Norbert in the 1st. This dragon has been beaten and abused for a long time and that is shown through the sickly pallor of its skin and how tight its skin is over its bones. The effects here reflect the health of this dragon which is something I’ve not seen that often other than some having battle scars. I really like how the effects tell the story of the dragon and it’s something to reflect on within my own work.


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The Hungarian Horntail was done fantastically in this film. The description in the book focuses heavily on its size, ferocity and spikes which all came across really well in the film.


Game of Thrones

We follow the three dragons in Game of Thrones as they grow and the effects team does a very good job of showing their ageing process. Because all of the dragons I am working with are different ages, some are hatchlings, some are ancient, I thought game of thrones would be a good reference to see how young and old dragons differ from each other. When they are young, Danerys’ dragons don’t have many spikes or sharp teeth because they haven’t fully formed. Their skin looks like it isn’t very hard and they’d feel like a lizard. As they grow older, their teeth and spikes grow bigger and look sharper as well as their skin looking harder and thicker. They also appear to have more personality as they grow and experience the world. Drogon, the black dragon is shown to be quite cruel and bloodthirsty where as the other two, Rhaegal and Viserion are shown to be gentler and more loyal to Danerys. This is one of the few times where you can hold two dragons from the same universe side by side and compare their personalities which was really helpful when discerning how to show the difference in personality between Saphira, Thorn, Glaedr and Firnin.


The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

This was a terrible adaptation of my favourite of The Chronicles of Narnia but that aside, the effects on Eustace in dragon form were stunning. I particularly looked at the detail around the eye in this shot because the eyes are what I want to focus on when making my books. There is so much intricate detail in this shot. Every individual pore on his skin is shown as well as all of the wrinkles and texture which I really loved. The eye itself has Eustace’s humanity shining through even though he is in dragon form. It has a lot of personality to it and shows all of his sadness about being trapped in dragon form. This level of detail and emotion is definitely something I want to come across in my own work.



While this is an absolutely awful book to movie adaptation, the effects on Saphira are really good and she is exactly as I imagined her in the book. This was one of the most important ones to look at as this is the film adaptation of the first book in the series I am creating. More like a bird than a lizard, Saphira’s skin looks more feathered than scaled which is something I really liked here. She strikes the balance between gentle and powerful really well and her personality comes across in her face and her eyes really well.

Looking at these representations of dragons has been really helpful in working out how to portray personality and skin type and I will keep it in mind whilst making my books.

Research – Caitlin Schafer

While looking around for people who had made art around dragons, I discovered Caitlin Schafer’s work. Caitlin Schafer made models of the dragons on the books I am looking at.

Although I think her models are incredible, I don’t think she’s translated the colour and tone of the skin very well from the covers. Their skin is described as being very shiny and glistening so she could have added more highlights to the work to show how they reflect the light.

As well as this, Glaedr (The yellow one) isn’t yellow. He is very strongly described as gold in the book and if you she didn’t want to make him gold, I think she should have gone with a more yellow ochre tone as that would work better. Glaedr is supposed to exude wisdom, strength and elegance and I think the colour she used strips him of that.

I found looking at Schafer’s translation from 2D to 3D was really helpful when thinking about how to do my own books. Because I want my books to be relief covers, seeing the things I’m working with in a 3D context helped me to envision my work a lot better.


The book series I have chosen to work with

After the crit, I looked back on the books I’d sketched ideas for and realised I wasn’t excited about any of those ideas any more and they didn’t meet the balance that I’d discussed in the crit.

One book series I thought could fit this if I modified my idea slightly. I now want to work with The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. Looking at the illustrations of the dragons on the cover, I want to take these and make 3d covers. I want to experiment with making them look and/or feel like how I imagine dragon skin would feel.

The inheritance cycle is one I have mentioned a few times throughout this project and with all the development and discussion I’ve done throughout this project, it stood out as the series I wanted to work with and seemed like a good next step.

As soon as the idea came into my head, it felt like the right one. I am very excited to get working on these covers and experimenting with dragons.

Books I could work with

Before the crit, I started to think about the books I may want to work with for my final piece. I had a lot of different ideas which I noted in my sketchbook.

If I do a book series


If I do a solo book


If I do classics


The next step is to pick which books I actually want to do. I don’t know if I’m going to pick one book or series, one of these categories or books from a mix of categories but I’m going to start sketching ideas and see what works before I pick.