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Illustration Book Printing: Crafting Rodney Matthews’ “Oddney’s Otherland”

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254x203mm Case Bound Books.
Cover onto 170gsm Silk.
Matt Lamination to outer.
Gloss Spot UV Varnish to outer.
Wrapped over greyboard case.
2x 4pp End Papers Printed onto 170gsm Uncoated.
114 inside pages onto 170gsm Silk.

Four colour print throughout.
Trimmed, collated and case bound.

Welcome to an enchanting journey through the creation of “Oddney’s Otherland,” a masterfully crafted illustration book by Rodney and Sarah Matthews. This case study delves into the intricate process of bringing a whimsical narrative to life, from vibrant illustrations to high-quality printing. Discover how Ex Why Zed, a leading name in custom size book printing, played a pivotal role in transforming vivid artwork into a tangible masterpiece. Engage with a detailed analysis of the book’s design, thematic richness, and the collaborative efforts that ensured its success.

“Oddney’s Otherland” is not merely a children’s book; it is an immersive experience into a fantastical universe, crafted by the combined talents of Rodney and Sarah Matthews. The analysis below delves into the thematic significance, aesthetic styling, and design choices that make this book a standout piece in the realm of illustrated children’s literature.

Thematic Significance: A Quest of Whimsy and Wonder

The storyline of “Oddney’s Otherland” serves as a narrative backbone, guiding the readers through a world brimming with odd goblins, mystical dragons, and a uniquely whimsical professor and his magpie companion. The themes explored are rich in fantasy yet resonate with the real-world dynamics of companionship, adventure, and curiosity. It’s a journey that reflects the explorative spirit of its authors, who have embedded parts of their own life into the characters and settings, making the narrative both personal and universally appealing.

Styling Aesthetics: A Visual Feast

The book’s illustrations are a testament to Rodney Matthews’ renowned artistic skill, each page a canvas that blends vibrant colors with detailed line work. The colour palette uses a mix of warm tones to depict fiery dragon scenes and cooler hues for darker, mysterious segments, setting a visual tone that matches the narrative mood of each chapter.

Design Choices: Beyond Ordinary

  • Typography and Layout: The use of a clear, legible serif font for the body text ensures readability while adding a touch of elegance. The titles, stylized in a striking serif, capture attention and enhance the fantastical feel of the book.
  • Binding and Materials: The case-bound design with its robust greyboard cover not only protects the precious artwork inside but also gives the book a substantial feel in the hands of its readers. The choice of 170gsm Silk for the pages allows for high-quality, sharp printing that brings out the intricate details of the illustrations.

Colour Palette and Illustrative Detail

From the fiery reds and oranges used in the dragon scenes to the muted browns and greens in illustrations of earthy, gnome-inhabited landscapes, the book uses colour to convey emotion and action. This strategic use of a dynamic colour palette helps in keeping the reader visually engaged.

Typographic Usage and Page Layout

The typographic choices in “Oddney’s Otherland” are carefully considered to complement the illustrative elements. The body text is set against a clean background, ensuring that the words are easy to read without distracting from the accompanying visuals. The layout often incorporates full-page illustrations with overlay text, making each spread a dramatic piece of art.

Binding Style: Durable and Detailed

The case binding of “Oddney’s Otherland” is not only practical but also aesthetic. It ensures that the book can withstand the test of time and repeated handling, which is essential for a children’s book. The glossy spot UV varnish on the cover catches the light, drawing attention and adding a tactile element that children and adults alike will appreciate.

Actionable Insights for Future Designers

  1. Leverage Colour for Emotional Impact: Use a colour palette that complements the narrative to enhance the storytelling experience visually.
  2. Focus on Typography: Select fonts that reflect the theme of your book and ensure readability.
  3. Invest in Quality Materials: Choose high-quality binding and paper to ensure durability and an excellent print quality that makes your illustrations pop.
  4. Consider the Reader’s Experience: Design your page layouts to balance text and illustrations effectively, ensuring a seamless reading experience.
  5. Add Personal Touches: Include elements like sketches or notes that give readers insight into the creative process, making your book a more intimate experience.

“Oddney’s Otherland” is an exemplar of how thoughtful design and quality printing can transform a simple story into a cherished keepsake. This book stands as a beacon for aspiring creators and printers alike, showcasing what is possible when passion meets precision in the art of book making.

The email conversations between Ex Why Zed and the creators of “Oddney’s Otherland,” Rodney and Sarah Matthews, offer a detailed glimpse into the collaborative process of bringing a creative book project to fruition. Here, we break down the key interactions and insights from these discussions.

Key Takeaways:

  • Responsive Communication: Ex Why Zed demonstrated prompt and attentive communication, ensuring that all client queries were addressed in a timely manner.
  • Flexible Solutions: The email exchanges show Ex Why Zed’s flexibility in adjusting quotes and print specifications to meet the client’s evolving needs.
  • Technical Assistance: The print company provided comprehensive technical guidance on binding methods, file setups, and cover design specifications.

Aims and Aspirations of the Client

Rodney and Sarah Matthews aimed to produce a high-quality illustrated book that could stand the test of time both in physical durability and aesthetic appeal. Their primary concerns revolved around the choice of materials, binding options, and print quality, highlighting their commitment to producing an exceptional product.

Challenges and Solutions

Throughout the project, Rodney and Sarah encountered several technical and decision-making challenges:

  • Binding and Print Options: Initially uncertain about the best binding option, they considered both hardback and perfect binding. Ex Why Zed provided detailed comparisons and pricing options to help them make an informed decision.
  • Design Revisions: After reviewing initial proofs, Sarah decided to redesign the front cover to enhance its visual appeal. Ex Why Zed accommodated these changes without delay, showcasing their adaptability and customer-first approach.

Ex Why Zed’s Expertise

  • Guiding the Design Process: They provided templates and detailed guidelines for artwork creation, ensuring that the technical aspects of book design were clear.
  • Quality Assurance: The provision of flat sheet proofs allowed Rodney and Sarah to physically assess the print quality and make necessary adjustments, a crucial step in achieving the desired outcome.


The interaction between Ex Why Zed and Rodney and Sarah Matthews was characterised by mutual respect, professionalism, and a shared goal of excellence. This collaboration not only resulted in a beautifully crafted book but also exemplified how effective communication and expert knowledge can lead to a successful print project. The experience, highlighted by the detailed email conversations, positions Ex Why Zed as a leader in custom book printing services, fully capable of transforming creative ideas into tangible, high-quality printed works.

Synthesis of Design and Collaboration

“Oddney’s Otherland” stands as a testament to the power of creative synergy between visionary authors and adept printers. The book’s journey from concept to print exemplifies how meticulous attention to detail, in both design and execution, can result in a product that delights audiences and withstands the test of time. This case study highlights the seamless integration of aesthetic choices—from typography and layout to binding and material quality—that contribute to the book’s allure. Rodney and Sarah Matthews’ collaboration with Ex Why Zed reflects a perfect blend of artistic vision and technical expertise, culminating in a printed work that is not only visually stunning but also structurally sound.

Ready for a Quote?

We hope you find this case study inspirational.

For more information on this book or to discuss your upcoming project, do get in touch on:
hello@exwhyzed.com01206 766647
Ex Why Zed makes self publishing a truly pleasurable experience!
Brilliant communication from start to finish. Mike had endless patience for the many questions we asked. The guides provided were easy to follow and super helpful (the video guides are a must watch too). Our order of hardback illustrated children's books was delivered expertly packaged and on time. As for the finished product itself - stunning - a real joy to finally hold, beautifully made and perfectly printed! We couldn't have asked for more. Well, we did - we instantly placed an order for paperback children's colouring books too, which we are equally as happy with. Look forward to working with Ex Why Zed again in the future.
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