Stylish and on-brand PDF design with bespoke illustrations

Stylish and on-brand PDF design with bespoke line-art illustrations by Kerri Awosile

Behind the Scenes of Janet Mactavish’s Vegan Handbook Project

Janet Mactavish is a luxury travel designer. She’s also a vegan. Having stayed at numerous luxury hotels and properties over the years, she’s had first-hand experience of what’s on offer (or not on offer, as the case may be) for vegan travellers. With a goal to help places be more vegan friendly, and a knowledge of both the travel industry and vegan lifestyle, Janet decided to write a vegan guide for hotels and properties. She knew what she wanted to say, but she also needed a stylish and on-brand PDF design, with bespoke illustrations, to get her message across. That’s where I came in…

pdf design with watering can illustration
Text has been blurred to protect Janet Mactavish's copyright

The Brief

“I admit that I was worried as some past design projects have not been a success. You inspired confidence in me, after discussing a rough idea of what was in my head, I was happy to hand it over to you to interpret. You are the design professional after all.” – Janet Mactavish

Janet is every designer’s dream client. She had a rough idea in mind for the feel and style she wanted but, she entirely put her trust in me to create a bespoke design.

We discussed imagery and how to best get across a more natural and grounded look, whilst holding on to the luxury quality her brand is known for. Janet’s materials usual include very aspirational and inspirational photography of the gorgeous hotels and locations she recommends. The kind of images that make you drift off into your dream holiday or retreat. Not the kind of imagery needed to get across an informative and passionate message about being more vegan friendly.

“I wanted to use my brand colours, and to maintain a luxury feel, also for it to be more natural and earthy. Given the subject matter, using the terracotta, which is usually just an accent colour, was key to this. I envisaged it to be beautiful, with simple illustrations and easy to read. Oh and, no fuss.” – Janet Mactavish

on-brand pdf design with carrot illustration
Text has been blurred to protect Janet Mactavish's copyright

The Bespoke Illustrations

To create a stylish and on-brand PDF design with bespoke illustrations, choosing the right style of artwork was really important.

I’m an artist, as well as a designer, and I love creating both watercolour and line art. The beauty of watercolour, in the way I like to paint, is its light and inspiring feel. However, this meant watercolour illustrations would have been far too fresh and airy for Janet’s vegan handbook project. Instead, line illustrations with a light hatching technique (creates shading) gave us a slightly more grounded and natural feel, but still with the elegance needed for luxury quality.

wheat illustration for stylish pdf design

I drew a collection of illustrations by hand, inspired by Janet’s written content . Then digitised each one (which basically means putting them on to the computer) and converted them to graphics. This allowed me to edit them and perfectly match Janet’s brand colours.

“The bespoke illustrations… make it really special and unique. I think that commissioning bespoke illustrations gave it more personality, a touch of nature, and it reinforced that it is something that I care about.” – Janet Mactavish

The Stylish And On-Brand PDF Design

It’s funny, for some design projects it takes a bit of time and experimenting to find the right style but, for Janet’s vegan handbook, I knew immediately what I wanted it to look like.

Using Janet’s brand colours, and making the terracotta a feature colour rather than just an accent, I created a clean and simple layout (my favourite kind of design) with a solid page colour and off-centred border. It instantly felt on-brand for Janet. However, to elevate the overall PDF, I knew I needed to bring a stylish sense of space to the design. Otherwise it risked feeling too heavy. So, I created wide margins and allowed plenty of room around the illustrations.

“I wanted them [readers] to be drawn in by its appearance, to be able to tell that it is something I am passionate about and that it was written by someone who has a lot of experience in the travel industry. I wanted them to want to know more…” – Janet Mactavish

A PDF book design should never overshadow the written message. It should complement it, and add interest, but not overpower. The considered layout, bespoke illustrations, and rich colour palette all worked together in this project – creating the perfect backdrop for Janet’s passion and expertise.

The end result was a PDF design, and bespoke illustrations, that not only looked stylish and on-brand but also gave Janet the confidence to shout about her vegan handbook from the rooftops.

“I confess, I was in tears when I saw the finished product, you managed to make all those thoughts in my head look so pretty. I am so proud of it.” – Janet Mactavish

knife and fork illustration for pdf design

Find Out More

Brand designer and artist, Kerri Awosile profile photo

For those who don’t know me…

Hi, I’m Kerri Awosile (pronounced Ah-woh-she-lay) and I’m a brand designer and artist with a love of helping others do what brings them joy. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Take a look at my About page to get to know me better, or why not get in touch if you’d like to chat about this post.

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