Toffle Towers: old-school hand-lettering & a rocket-powered bus

Ever wondered how the title type for a series gets designed? I’ll show you my inspirations for the title type of the Toffle Towers series. I’ll also show you how I designed the series’ quirky shuttle bus vehicle.

My new book Toffle Towers book 3 is out now! It’s written by Tim Harris and illustrated by me. You can grab a copy at the links at the bottom of this blog post.

To celebrate the release of third book in the series, 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 exterior; and how I designed the hotel’s interior. But today, I’m showing you how I designed a couple of other things – the hotel’s unique shuttle bus, and the title typography.


Title typography

I’ve always loved typography; in fact I’ve designed the title type for a bunch of my books (see The Last Viking and my S.Tinker Inc graphic novel series). So I mocked something up for the Toffle Towers series too. I looked at old-fashioned shop and hotel signage for inspiration. Here are some reference pics I collected. Then I started mocking something up. I wanted it to be old-fashioned but quirky and fun. This is what came out. Luckily, the publishers liked it. It was a rare case of the first idea being good enough!


The ‘Shuttle’ Bus

Tim described it as an old bus with wings and 6 rocket engines bolted on. I wanted it to be an old chrome bus, so that it would look retro and space-age. I found what I was looking for on a google image search.

I also had to figure out in my head how it would be able to take off and land in small spaces without destroying anything. I settled on VTOL  (vertical take off and landing) engines like you find on Harrier jump jets. There would be a rocket in each of the shuttle bus wings, and these would be able to rotate to provide both downward and forward thrust. I needed to figure out if the whole wings would rotate, or just the engines, so I tried it a bunch of ways. Once the design was finalised, I could draw the bus in action. Here’s a rough of one of the internals from book 1:

… and here’s the final. And here’s the bus as it appears on the cover of book 1. You can check out more behind-the-scenes blog posts for Toffle Towers here.


Toffle Towers 3: Order in the Court

Buy online:
Booktopia (Australia/NZ only)
Dymocks
QBD (Australia only)
Readings
Angus & Robertson (Australia only)
Book Depository

Toffle Towers 2: The Great River Race

Buy online
Booktopia (Australia/NZ only)
Dymocks
QBD (Australia only)
Readings
Angus & Robertson (Australia only)

Toffle Towers 1: Fully Booked

Buy online
Booktopia (Australia/NZ only)
Kinokuniya (Australia only)
Dymocks
QBD (Australia only)
Readings
Angus & Robertson (Australia only)

Author: James Foley

James makes books for courageous kids. He’s the author/illustrator of the S.Tinker Inc graphic novel series for middle primary: Brobot (2016), Dungzilla (2017) and Gastronauts (2018) star Sally Tinker, the world’s foremost inventor under the age of twelve, and Joe Tinker, her stinky baby brother. The fourth in the series, Chickensaurus, is out in late 2020. He is also the illustrator of the Toffle Towers series written by Tim Harris. James’ earlier books My Dead Bunny (2015), In The Lion (2012), The Last Viking (2011) and The Last Viking Returns (2014) have all scored several honours, including children’s choice awards, shortlistings in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year awards, and selection to the International Youth Library’s White Raven list. The sequel to My dead Bunny - There's Something Weird About Lena - is out in late 2020. James comes from a long line of queuing enthusiasts. Follow him on FB/twitter/insta/youtube @jamesfoleybooks, or at www.jamesfoley.com.au .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s