Emily Courdelle on Designing Is Butter a Carb?

Emily Courdelle is a freelance graphic designer based in Cambridgeshire, UK specialising in book cover design, lettering and illustration. Here she takes us through her process for designing Is Butter a Carb?

I designed the cover for Is Butter a Carb? while I was working in-house as a junior designer with the wonderful design team at Little, Brown Book Group. I put myself forward for this project in the cover briefing for two main reasons: 1) the title (who doesn’t love a Mean Girls reference?), and 2) that I felt this project could give me a chance to experiment with my love for hand/digital lettering.

The brief gave me a general sense of what direction the editors/authors felt this cover should go in and included some cover comparisons in the same genre that have sold well on Amazon due to their fun, somewhat quirky designs, which work really well at thumbnail size as well as in print.

Because I was working with such a fun title, I felt that the cover should be largely typography focused and so kept this in mind when looking for images. Believe it or not, in the beginning my image research included looking at lots and lots of pictures of butter! Butter on bread, butter in a tub, butter in a bowl, etc. I think I have looked at 99% of all the butter images available on Shutterstock. Once I had found some appropriate images, I started adding the text. I tried a few versions using fonts, and others with hand lettering, which I created on Photoshop using a Wacom tablet and some amazing brushes by the incredibly talented Kyle T. Webster (kylebrush.com).


I had a couple of clear favourites that I started to get attached to from the beginning, which I usually do with every project I work on. Luckily enough, the authors also preferred one of my favourites (Top row, second from left), but it was mentioned that the wrapper didn’t feel quite right.


I removed the wrapper from the image and started adding bold coloured backgrounds. Finding the right colour was almost as tricky as finding the right image to use – the authors didn’t want it to feel too feminine, so we eventually settled on the teal, which was a great contrast with the yellow butter.


The final cover was then presented at the cover meeting where it went down really well and was approved. I thoroughly enjoyed working on and experimenting with this cover and am really pleased with the end result.  A special thank you has to be given to The Rooted Project and Little, Brown for giving me the opportunity to work on this amazingly fun project!

Design Editor, Painter, Designer, Lifelong bibliophile.