Katy Dwyer

Katy Dwyer Design



Fight Evil, Read Books

**Check out my updates at the bottom**


I got a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas. While in search of a case for it, I found one where I could upload my own art for the front and back cover. What a perfect purpose for my hand-lettered project!


Since my project was a Kindle cover, I knew I wanted my phrase to have something to do with reading. After some internet research, I found “Fight Evil. Read Books.” I loved it. It screamed kitsch to me. Just perfect.


I actually already had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do with the imagery—a fun merge of good vs. evil--so I was looking mostly for color and letterform inspiration. 


Since my Kindle cover needed both a front and back, I also knew I wanted to do some little icons throughout the design that I could then use to create a seamless pattern for the back. 


Here's what came to mind:

Monsters, Skull & Cross bones, books, glasses, flowers, stars, evil robots, scary teeth, vampires, bats, ghosts, boxing gloves, red, clouds, sun rays, beach, cocktails, umbrellas, kitschy


I started with the word Evil. Played around with that a bit. Moved onto Read and Books. These are just some of my samples. 





Here's the small thumbnail (left) that I chose for my layout, followed by a larger sketch (right) I played around with. I already had a size I had to work with, as well as an orientation (vertical) that I had to stick with.


Next up, a more detailed sketch (in my sketchbook). You can't tell from this photo, but there was a LOT of erasing involved!


Then I moved out of my sketchbook and onto a true sheet of paper. At this point, I decided it didn't make sense to have the illustrated binding on the left, because the kindle cover I was creating this for has a black spine that wraps around the front. 



I knew there were a bunch of things that overlapped, so I had to draw a number of layers. I also had some shakiness as I inked (probably because this stage was so exciting and nerve-wracking!), so a few things (like the word Evil) I had to trace a couple of times until I was happy with it. Those cross bones were really tough to figure out how I would draw and assemble them in illustrator to get the right layering (same with the ribbon through the 'O's). More on that later!

I also knew that when drew this in one color, all the ornaments and little drawings were going to feel too powerful and overtake the words. But I knew that when I got to the digitized version, I would plan to use color to pull all the ornaments back.




It took me some time to get the live trace options right, but once I did, I was really happy with the results. Here we have the colorized version along with the color palette I wound up working with.


You can see that I added a slight drop to the word 'FIGHT' and a larger drop shadow to 'read'. 

I had to do a lot with the knife tool and layers to get the effect of the ribbons wrapped around the bones. I think I would up with 3 or four layers, and a very chopped up illustration to make that work. But I'm glad I figured it out!

Lastly, I had to allow for a good deal of bleed around the edges for printing on the kindle cover. So my illustration couldn't go too close to the edge.


I played with a few things I had packed away from my fine art days in college. Some old wax crayons and soft pencils. I also had some stamp pads that I messed around with, as well as a somewhat dry Sharpie. 



I wound up using all the textures I created in some way or another throughout the drawing, as well as some photoshop brushes. Here's how far I had come!



Once I printed my creation, a saw a few things I wanted to fix. The biggest was that the 'E' and 'vil' seemed too far apart. I needed to fix the spacing. But because the 'vil' and green ribbon were all connected, that would have meant a LOT of time to redraw, digitize, redo all the chopping up and layering, etc. I admit, I wanted a shortcut. So instead, I made this change in photoshop by flattening and grouping some of the layers (savings a layered version too, of course!), moving them around, and a little work with the paintbrush tool. 

I also fixed some sizing issues (the skull and book towards the center seemed too cramped to me, so they got smaller), and added a slight leathery texture behind the words to give it that book feel. Here's my final result!


Throughout working on this project, I knew there were parts of my illustration that weren't perfectly symmetrical. But that didn't bother me. For me, that's the appeal of hand-lettering and illustration, as opposed to something crafted entirely on the computer.

My personal final step was to create the seamless pattern for the back of my Kindle cover. So I've added a pic of that for fun. To see the final product, click here.


I really enjoyed these classes! As a graphic designer, I spend too much time behind the computer screen, and this gave me a chance to be creative on paper first, and work on a fun project for myself, rather than for a client. I ordered my cover today, and will post a  pic of it when it arrives! Now all that's left is for me to find a new lettering project to work on...


UPDATE: 1/17/14

My Kindle cover has arrived! And I love it! This was such a great class. And I'm thrilled with what I came out with. I'm already planning new projects. It's great to have some personal creative outlet--especially since my days are filled with making art/design for clients. 



Also, a couple of the comments mentioned websites where you can make your art available for others. So I signed up for one! Click here!

Thanks to EVERYONE for your encouragement!


2016 Update:

What an amazing project... I still think back to how much fun I had with this one. BUT the frosting on the cake was that last year, I was contacted by Quarterly, and they licensed my Fight Evil Read Books print to go out in one of their Young Adult boxes. Seriously.... that was awesome! Check out the YA Quarterly Unboxing here: https://youtu.be/iWXNvopulwE Jump to the 2 minute mark to see the print unveiled! 


Please sign in or sign up to comment.