image When I was growing up I remember lots of old Penguin paper back books being around our house. They were mostly my Dad’s books but I used to like looking at the covers. I had no idea that the covers were designed by someone, all I knew was that some were appealing and some looked very boring to me.

This one here on the right is one that I remember and I think it was the big orange sun that I loved. I gravitated towards the more colourful covers which were often made of simple shapes. I’m still very much attracted to that type of design now.

So years later, now as a designer, I have more of an appreciation of the genius that is the grid layout on many of the Penguin book covers, In 1946 German typographer Jan Tschichold was  appointed head of design and devised rigorous design templates for all Penguin’s books and also accepted illustrated covers for some books.

Inspired By Penguin

Last year, illustrator M.S. Corley created some absolutely wonderful Penguin inspired covers for Spiderwick Chronicles and Harry Potter and Littlepixel designed 39 Album covers in the classic Penguin style.


And so to my own efforts. As part of my own “create something new everyday” quest which is really more of a weekly thing, I decided to take a few well known cartoons and design Penguin style book covers for them. It keeps me off the streets 😉 Please note this project was purely for fun, and the copyright of the cartoon characters belong to the original creators.

Betty Boop

Bugs Bunny

Captain Caveman

Foghorn Leghorn

Hong Kong Phooey



Books About Penguin Covers

Last year I bought the book “Seven Hundred Penguins” which is a nice thick showcase of Penguin book covers, one cover per page. It’s a great source of inspiration and a nice one to have in the book case.




If you’re interested in Penguin book cover design there’s tons of great info out there. Here’s a few links you might find interesting:

The Penguin Blog (Design Posts)

The Penguin Blog Covers On Flickr

Things Magazine Pelican Project

Penguin & Pelican Book Cover Set On Flickr

Design Museum – Designing Modern Britain

Allen Lane Wikipedia

Jan Tschichold

Jan Tschichold Wikipedia

Reading The Cover

Excerpt From “Penguin By Designers” On Creative Review


So any cartoon character you’d like to see on a cover?

Jennifer Farley

Jennifer Farley is an illustrator, designer, author and design teacher based in Ireland. She has been teaching design for over 14 years and helps people learn Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom,Illustrator and graphic design skills to improve their job prospects and their business.

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