Lisa Brewster, on Designing for The Witch's Kiss & The Witch's Tears

Lisa Brewster, on Designing for The Witch's Kiss & The Witch's Tears

Editor's Note: The following is part two of a two part series on the making of The Witch’s Kiss trilogy, published by HarperCollins. Here designer Lisa Brewster discusses her process for the creation of covers in the trilogy.

Part one of the series is a conversation with the trilogy's creators, authors Katharine and Elizabeth Corr.

What is Blacksheep Studio and how did you come to work for them?

Blacksheep are a leading design team located close to London's South Bank. We work extensively within the publishing arena, and have been designing book covers for 21 years. 

I personally have been working with Blacksheep for 13 years since leaving my art education. Our design and creativity skills offer a wide spectrum of services specialising in publishing — this includes commissioned book design, (title) logo lettering, author branding, photography, illustration and photo manipulation to suit the brief we receive from the client.


Early concept for The Witch's Kiss


How were you approached to develop the series and What was your process in designing the covers?

The Witch's Kiss and The Witch's Tears were briefed by HarperCollins, requiring us to tailor a design for the Young Adult market. I love gothic paranormal themes, so I was very excited to work on these projects! 

A quote from the copy explains 'Meredith has lost her heart, but will she also lose her life?' Therefore hearts were crucial to the storyline because of the romance element and the wizard’s rage and plot fuelled by his own broken heart. I tried to work with hearts as a concept in a dynamic iconic manner. The brief required a fairytale theme and 'Maleficent' was a reference, so when I read about the setting of the black forest made from thorns, I knew this would be a great visual starting point. Witchcraft, vengeance, romance, enchanted forests sum up the brief in a nutshell so spiky thorns seemed fitting for a fantasy spooky forest. Initial visuals had hearts pierced by thorns in various styles of illustration, which later developed into a heart shape being organically created by the thorns themselves to have more impact. Evidently there are changes back and forth from the client to refine the design until sales are happy with the end results. HarperCollins really loved the strong, striking, graphic quality to this approach.


To evoke a Grimm's fairytale approach we chose a simple colour palette, red, black and white; the red for the blood being our accent colour to suggest a dark dangerous side to the story. The title lettering was developed to have sharp pointed edges to a couple of the serifs to complete the sinister twist to the design. 


The Witch's Tears was briefed later to follow the style we had already successfully created. Heartbreak after the loss of Jack in the second book allowed us to have continuity with the heart as the central focus again, but using a different nature element — this time the client suggested ICE. Ice was felt to be an equally edgy uniformed shape to work with but tying in nicely with the title — thought process was tears, water, frost, ice, icicles. Heart shaped ice block formations were explored initially, but [we chose] the fragmented solution you see here. A new colour theme to differentiate from book one was blue, white and red. Reasoning being blue was a reflection of the cold ice, and red blood drops for style continuation.