Andrew Davidson’s hand engraved Harry Potter covers

Illustrator Andrew Davidson has produced a beautifully detailed set of hand engraved covers for adult editions of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter novels.

Andrew Davidson has produced a beautifully detailed set of hand engraved illustrations for the cover of adult editions of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter novels.

Davidson was commissioned by Bloomsbury, who will publish the series and Webb & Webb, who are designing the covers.

The illustrations were created by printing hand crafted wood engravings made on nine by seven-inch English boxwood onto Japanese paper, “which seemed to create the perfect effect,” says Davidson.

“I wanted them to look as if they had come straight from the pages of a book taken from the library at Hogwarts [the boarding school for wizard’s where the books are set].”

The finished book covers will look something like this, and will be on sale in September.

The project took around two and a half months to complete, and each of Davidson’s illustrations represents a key scene, character or setting from that novel: designs for early books in the series feature the Hogwarts Express train and Gothic castle, while later covers have a darker feel and feature ghouls, skulls and serpents.

“Each image aims to capture the spirit and setting of each book – as the stories become darker, so do the engravings. There are also hidden clues in each of the illustrations to look out for…” he adds.

“The brief was to create a set of covers that would stand out on the shelves of any shop and to make the author’s name a key focus, which is why we’ve used large type and bold colours,” explains Webb&Webb director James Webb, who designed the covers before commissioning Davidson’s illustrations.

“We wanted to steer clear of using photographs of the characters, or the black and white imagery used on a lot of teen fiction, so we presented the idea of using Andrew’s illustrations to Bloomsbury. We had originally approached Andrew to work on a set of Harry Potter covers three years ago, and are working on another project with him now for Royal Mail,” he adds.

Webb&Webb have worked on the project since August. “We had to devise around 100 variations before we settled on a set that would meet sales, marketing and design needs – it’s always a tricky process,” says Webb.

Andrew Davidson is represented by illustration agency The Artworks. To see more of his work, click here.

  • Way too much talent for one person.

  • Ed

    Those illustrations are absolutely beautiful.

    Those book covers are bloody awful.

    Let the illustrations do the work, don’t bury them under over-done type and unnecessary colour blocking!

  • WOW! Just wow! what a great work! Andrew Davidson is truly an artist! His art is very detailed and realistic! Love it! Can’t wait for the books!!

  • Inder


  • These are stunning

  • Natacha

    Agree with Ed. Colour block and huge print titles ruin the fantastic artwork.

  • maxworth

    haha, what a waste, all his hard work is covered with bad typography and color blocking. hope he got paid well at least.

  • w

    Couldn’t agree more, Ed!

  • Zeo

    Absolutely gorgeous. They should have kept the images black and white for the books though. They don’t look half as good as theses originals.

  • I agree with Edd – such a shame that these intricate masterpieces will be hidden behind a contemporary design. The book covers should all look as though they’d come from the Hogwarts library as the artist was intending. Very poor art direction.

  • Fantastic stuff! Just brilliant artwork!

  • Eli

    I totally agree with Ed. It’s just stupid to cover up these amazing and beautiful drawings like that.

  • Amazing illustrations. Hopefully they will be used more sensitively on the book covers.

  • Amazing illustrations. Hopefully they will be used more sensitively on the book covers.

  • Agree with Ed, a real shame to lose the clarity of these – would feel no less ‘adult’ to keep them simple as they are and use a coloured belly-band wrap or even an easy-peel sticker. Lovely lovely work.

  • Steve

    May I remind you all that a book, yes, those bound editions of paper, aren’t just a flat jpg on a screen to be looked at for two seconds on a Kindle, but an entire package. I bet these amazing pieces will be used on endpapers etc to contrast with the covers, no?

    Also, think of the nightmare process of getting this signed off and for everyone to agree on a style for the most significant book series in living memory. Not easy I bet.

  • Steve – I hope you’re right. As for your second point, see Penguin.

  • Stunning stuff. now, Steve is correct to say that they will probably have endpapers etc but still a shame they didn’t go the whole Hogwart’s and produce editions that look like magical old tomes as would seem to be the best way of showing off the work

  • Phil Mottram

    Why whack all that colour over the top of hand crafted illustrations? The type isn’t over done, it’s just considered. But should they go together?

    Let’s see a living example… role on September.

  • Amazing work. I agree that the type and block colour looks pretty ugly. As suggested, you can’t really tell much from the picture. It could even be a plastic dust jacket that you could just bin. I really hope that it isn’t printed on.

  • Amazing craftsmanship taking place in this work. I can not comprehend why anybody would want to overshadow the detail in this very difficult and wonderfully executed illustration with a colour filter and sans serif typeface.

  • Cheryl Hooper-Feeney

    I think you should leave these books alone!

  • Marketing departments don’t care about the art, sadly. Once the work gets past the Creative Director, it will get stomped on and go through a formulaic approach. Which is odd in this particular case since these books will sell regardless.

  • It would have been great if the use of such lovely illustrations were as considered as the ones for Naomi Novik’s Temeraire books. Where the text and illustrations complimented each other.

  • John

    There you have it folks! This is the HOW TO tutorial for taking brilliant art and turning it into mass-market bargain bin offerings. Amazing restraint not filling the ENTIRE cover with type.

  • John D

    True artistry ruined by an insolent designer with bad taste.

  • Alex

    Very impressive. This Harry Potter craze has completely gone over my head – I’ve never read any of the books, nor have I seen any of the films. I don’t quite understand the “adult” version of the books concept – they are children’s books, no? I can understand adults with kids reading them to know what their children are on about, but anyone else should be reading proper literature.

  • It’s like ordering the chef’s special at a four star restaurant and then drowning it in ketchup.

    I can only hope this was just the victim of too much design by committee, and not complete incompetence.

  • Patrick

    Why did they ruin the artwork?

  • Alex Jones

    Love it Peter

    ‘Why did they ruin the artwork?

    When was the last time you saw a mass market paperback without a title on it!

    29 comments and only one sane one from Steve. Do CR readers have any professional experience or are they all back seat designers who know better than a design company, publishing house, marketing team, sales team, agent and author?

  • Andrew Davidson solo exhibition opens at Tinsmith, Ledbury, Herefordshire on 7th September, 2013 for info visit Tinsmiths website and look at artists’ prints section. Andrew will be showing sets of his prints (editions of 20) for Harry Potter’s Bloomsbury series.

  • Alex Minton

    From one Alex to another…your comment was pointless! It simply does not make sense, financially or artistically, to get an artist to work two and half months on wood engravings only to cover it with a filter and large text…that’s just mad.

  • Alex Jones

    No Alex my comment along with Steve’s is perhaps the only non-pointless one, what I am saying is that you simply have no idea what the brief was or what the input from the author and publisher was.

    I stand by my previous comment ‘back seat designers’!

  • I’m with Ed. Why have someone do such fantastic artwork only to cover it up with colour and type?

    if I was the artists I would have the right raving hump.

  • Ed

    Hi Alex Jones,

    Knowing the brief and client input wouldn’t change my opinion that the covers look rubbish while the illustrations look fabulous. The designers aren’t going to be able to stand next to every copy and explain their decisions or the reasons behind spoiling the illustrations with colour overlays. No excuses, and certainly not for a franchise on the scale of Harry Potter.

    Excerpt from a conversation with George Lois (video here:

    “If you have talent what you have to be able to do is sell your work. And to sell your work you have to have courage. And you have to have the courage to say to yourself every single minute, ‘I will never run a bad ad’ or, ‘I will never do something I think is at my best’. Never!”

    “No matter what it is?”

    “No matter what it is. And young people say to me, ‘Sometimes we have to do something bad. Y’know I work at an Ad agency and I’ve a Creative Director and I get forced into doing some bad work sometimes.’ And I say ‘You know what you just told me? You told me you’ll never be terrific. You told me you’ll never be great.'”

  • F

    Alex, having never read the books or seen the films (which are a bit of a poor substitute for the books, I feel!), you might like to know that they’re the sort of books which are accessible to children but, especially as the series progresses, discuss an awful lot of themes that only older readers would fully understand.

    When I read the books as a little child, it was the story of a boy who gets whisked away to a magical world of adventure where he fights the good fight against evil wizards. When I read them as an adult, it was the story of a child who is neglected and abused by the adults who are supposed to love and protect him, used by the ones who are supposed to keep him safe, and who loses every parent figure he ever has because of all-too-human intolerance and cruelty. It’s a very dark and adult series disguised as cute and simply worded children’s literature. That’s why adults read it.

    Anyway, back on topic, these illustrations are beautiful, but those covers are the ugliest things I’ve seen in a long time. I wonder if I could obtain some prints of the artwork and bind my own covers with them?