The Exquisite Book – Designing the Chapter Openers

I have just received an advanced copy of our Exquisite Book! I couldn’t be more pleased with the final result! Today I wanted to share our ideas and process for creating the chapter openers in the book.

There are ten chapters in the book. Each chapter is a fold-out accordion of ten pages. Each of those pages has a piece of connecting artwork by one of our 100 contributors. Since each page connects to the next via the horizon line, we wanted to carry that through the book especially between each chapter. This way the entire book would be connected through the horizon line.

For example here’s three pages of one of the ten page accordions (artists: Mike Perry, Camilla Engman, Lab Partners- you’ve seen thumbnails of these pages before)

When thinking about how we should design the chapter openers spread we came up with a short list of ideas to keep in mind:
1. They should have something to do with the phrases we gave the first artists that started the chapter– In the Woods, In the Snow, In the Forest…
2. We wanted to make the chapter openers feel different from the artists pages. Since every page in the book was a full page of artwork, we didn’t want the chapter openers to be confused with those.
3. Even though they should feel separate from the artwork in the book, they should still feel handmade and feel like they matched the tone of the book.
4. The horizons needed to connect the last page of the previous chapter with the first page of the next chapter.

We decided immediately the chapter openers would be one color. That would set them apart from all of the artwork from the book which for the most part is full color. Then we brainstormed a bit and came up with the idea of using letters. Letters could spell the chapter opener titles but could also be the building blocks for the compositions we created. To make them a bit more intriguing we decided to make them look three dimensional. This way they could create a feeling of space in the drawings. We made the final letters using pencil, which allowed us to shade the letters and then made the pencil line blue, which made it feel a bit more playful.

The letters become tree trunks for In the Forest:

Giant A’s become mountains for In the Mountains:

To continue the theme of the book, where each artist was inspired by the last artist, we decided to use elements from the next artists page as a small teaser into the chapter.

For example, for In the Snow, we referenced Matt Leines triangle shapes that come one the next page. Triangles are popping up through the snow:

And in In the Ocean, we recreated Takashi Iwasaki’s crazy bubbles as a hint to what you would be seeing on the next page:

We also used the letters throughout the book as design elements like here on the bios pages- artists whose last names started with R or S had bios that appeared on this page covered is those letters.


How did we make all these 3-d letters? There were no rulers or protractors involved as you might think. We actually used a free 3-D modeling program called Sketch Up. Sketch Up is a Google program that anyone can download. Most people build shapes directly into the program but we brought letters into the program and 3-d-ified them. You can rotate around the letters and see every angle, you can add shadows by picking what angle you want the sun to shine. Here’s what a Sketch Up file looks like:


After we created the Sketch-Up file the way we wanted I printed it out and traced the letters in pencil onto tracing paper to give them the handmade feel. Then we scanned them into the computer to arrange in layouts.

Here’s some tracings:

The horizons were created just in pencil as well. Jenny went through many many pencils to color in all those hills.

Thanks for reading about our process. Let me know what you think! Pre-order the book here! More sneak peeks coming soon!


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