Z :: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak | Skillshare Projects

Vicky G.

Graphic Designer



Z :: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Hi Everyone!

For this project I have chosen The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, so the letter I will be trying to illustrate is Z.

This is one of my all time favourite books.

The Book Thief is narrated by Death and tells the story of Liesel Meminger, a girl growing up in Nazi Germany. Key characters in the book are Liesel (a book thief), Hans Hubermann (an accordioniast) Rosa Hubermann (an iron-fisted woman), Max Vandenburg (a Jewish fist fighter) and Rudy Steiner (a boy with hair the colour of lemons). 

Here are some of my inital notes from rereading the book:

Following this I focused on a accordion, books and a weather report.

Concept 1 :: this focuses on the accordion (Hans's accordion a key factor in the survival of one main character and a reminder of a promise to a firend) and a book (in the story we follow Liesel as she learns to read and write, and we see how books and writing also save the lives of 3 peeple).

So for this concept I really liked the possibilty of trying to show both the book and the accordion using the structure of the 'Z'. 

Concept 2 :: this was based on Liesel and Max's friendship and a beautifully described weather report "The sky is blue today and there is a big long cloud and it's stretched out like a rope. At the end of it, the sun is like a yellow hole…" Max then paints a picture of himself and Liesel, walking on the cloud toward the sun. So this stuck in my head as you could create a 'Z' from this imagery. 

Here are some of my initial sketches:

Right now I think I'm going to go with developing the bottom left concept with the accordion which also kind of looks like book pages within the Z. 

I might now try starting on my concept in illustrator but any feedback on my sketches/thoughts so far would be really appreciated. Thank you!

Update 21 March

I've taken my design over to illustrator and have been working a getting the right curves and angles. Think I'm getting there slowly. 

Still not sure about colours – clolours are a big part of the book, you have the red, black and white of the nazi flag, the silver eyes of Hans and the blue sky descriptions. Think I need to try some options. 

Also I have started look at adding some textural details – still kind of rough but heading in the direction I want. Would be great to get some feedback so far.

Thanks for taking a look!

Update 24 March

Thanks for the feedback, I've tried brightening up the red a bit and also a reverse option. But I think I will stick with the red background – I think the 'Z' works better in black as it relfects the keys on the accordion. I have also added more detail to the drop shadow effect. 

I could keep tweaking this design for ages but right now I am happy with where the design has gone, so here is the final result:


This class has been really inspiring and a lot of fun to work on. Thank you Jessica for giving us all a wonderful insight into your techniques and processes, I can't wait to delve even further into the work of lettering. 


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