Many scenes in the Toffle Towers series happen in and around the eponymous hotel. So it was down to me – an illustrator with absolutely no architecture experience (!) – to design the exterior of the building. It needed to look historic, a little shabby but also exciting and quirky. Here’s how I designed it.
To celebrate the upcoming release of Toffle Towers book 3, I’ve prepped a bunch of behind-the-scenes blog posts. I’ll show you how I designed the characters; how I designed the cover for book 1; how I designed the hotel’s lobby; and how I designed other elements like the shuttle bus and the title typography. But today, I’m showing you how I designed the exterior of the hotel.
Tim described the hotel pretty clearly; it had three floors and a symmetrical design. It had ivy growing up the walls, and it also sounded a bit old-fashioned and quirky. This is the very first tiny scrappy sketch I made while reading the book.
Through some google image searching, I found a real location that felt like what I had in mind: Belton House in the UK. The problem was, it only had two floors. So I photoshopped another one on (and added in some extra turrets).
From there I could have a go at drawing it and simplifying it. I tried one version that was pretty much the same dimensions … … but it wasn’t quite quirky enough, so I smooshed it – I made it narrower and taller. It still wasn’t quite quirky enough, so I mucked around some more, and started adding some colour – I made three more versions.
Here’s a timelapse of me sketching those three versions.