Art reveal: Castle Charming Bookplates

I’ve been designing bookplates for Tansy Rayner Roberts, for her (successful!) Castle Charming kickstarter (I previously posted about the enamel pin design for that).

Here is the first glimpse of the bookplates back from the printer (Tansy arranged all that end of it — I do particularly enjoy the moment where someone else takes art away and brings it back as a shining object).

It’s pen and ink with ink washes.

And here are a few of the sketches from which it began:

Books are fascinating as design elements. They seem so potentially decorative and yet they’re very… boxy, and make you make style decisions around e.g. perspective, and how shabby to make them in order to get some texture going.

Some of my favourite books covers are early 20thC school prize book editions. Mostly because of their spines! But the other sides are marvellously textured (and the insides are gorgeously mottled — blank pages in Mr Dalton and Janet have provided many of the textures I use with digital colour).

Almost all of these are from the Lifeline Bookfest, and are the primary reason I’m not allowed to go anymore until I buy more bookcases.

Process post: Castle Charming pin


I was going to save this post until later in Tansy Rayner Roberts‘ Castle Charming Kickstarter campaign, but it’s already been more than 3/4 funded in its first 24 hours!

Castle Charming is a collection of linked short stories and novellas about a year in the life of a fairy tale kingdom, by Tansy Rayner Roberts.

(Incidentally, while I’ve never run a crowdfunding campaign directly, I’ve been involved with quite a few, and the biggest lesson, from Kinds of Blue (9 years!) on, has been: the more complete a project already exists, the faster it funds.)


One of the reward levels is an enamel pin based on a design by me (the first pin I designed was also for Tansy’s Creature Court crowdfunding campaign (final pins here), and in the interim there was a hedgehog in a teacup, too).

Here are the early sketches (already seen by patrons, including a few I’ve trimmed off here because I definitely want to do something further with them at some point).

2020-02-20-CastleCharmingSketches for web-abbr

Tansy chose M, but with bean plants around the base instead of the generic flourish. I worked up a few approaches (bean plants are notoriously vertical, so working up a horizontal version was an enjoyable puzzle — we had to opt for a short-podded variety), but our favourite was the clustered beans and leaves.

2020-02-22-KJennings-Castle-Mockups for web

From there, I straightened it up and inked it with a brush, then tidied it (lightly — we wanted to keep the hand-drawn effect) digitally and added colour.

I’ll post a picture of the final pins when they become reality, but in the meantime, you can get one by supporting the campaign here: Castle Charming.