Get the look: Potter Perfection

PotterThe Harry Potter books continue to inspire some great themed yearbooks full of magic and mischief this year and it’s a lot of fun to see how people have really introduced this theme with a lot of thought- a particular favourite of mine was the Chamber of Secrets Confessions page I saw in a book a few years ago now but editors are always coming up with fantastic new page creations!

So where to start? Well let’s look at your font selections first 🙂 There are some lovely magical and old looking font options that work so perfectly for this kind of theme. Fonts like Diplomata SC, Bigelow Rules, Jim Nightshade ….


When it comes to creating your page, our parchment background is the best choice for you! You can also find these awesome scroll banners to embellish your title pages and add another dimension to your design in the clipart selection available in all books.


When you’re choosing colour schemes, you’ll probably want some nice earthy colours for parchment looks. Remember you also have black and white in addition to your palette choices 🙂


When it comes to cover designs, the Marauder’s Map has been a strong influence this last year. You can get the look using parchment style background, fonts mentioned above and a little creative drawing to map out your school grounds.  Alternatively you can make a nice Hogwarts style crest using your school’s house colours and images which looks fab too!

DSCF3966_FotorBanchory Cover Draft

the AYB team

Get the look: Comic book cool!


Marvel has taken over our screens in recent years and superheros are awesome again. Comic book style has become more and more popular over the last fear years so we’re bringing you a little theme guide of exactly that 🙂 Let’s look at the colour palette of the comic book style in a little more detail first- the palette is bright but the black and white nature of the drawings take priority and give it that bold graphic quality. Key colours such as red, yellow and blue feature heavily whilst black and white add emphasis and depth so a palette like this one is a great starting point:


Texture and depth are also used to create contrast. Take the infamous pow and crash signs of retro comics for example. Adding layers of these bold colours and teaming flat colours and dotty backgrounds is an easy way to replicate the look of traditional style comics.


You’ll notice a whole host of bright and exciting page backgrounds in the theme area which can be used for comic book page designs, like these for example:


When it comes to fonts, you’ll want a mix of bold, chunky options for page titles and smaller typefaces for main profile and body text. A palette like this one is a great starting point:


For those of you feeling adventurous, why not have a go at making your own comic strip 🙂 You could host a competition to collect the funniest stories and drawings and put them together for a unique and legendary page idea!comic

Moving on to your cover design, you might like to go for something bold and vibrant or keep it simple with a monochromatic base like this design from Blairgowrie High School. The superman style crest gives it an instantly recognisable superhero style whilst adding a big splash of colour 🙂


the AYB team

Get the look: Movie Glamour theme


Who watched the BAFTA’s at the weekend? Feeling inspired by Hollywood’s hottest? Why not recall all the famous faces of your school days and do it with style with a movie glamour theme 🙂

So when you think of the movies, you think of red carpets, lush velvet curtains and golden highlights right? Naturally you’ll want to build these colours into your palette so something like this is a great starting point:


When it comes to fonts,  there are some great theatrical choices that look awesome in this kind of theme. Limelight has been one of our trusty favourites for years now but be sure to create a nice mix of bold title fonts and stylised body text options too. Poiret One is a great choice for example 🙂


If you’re keen to develop your movie theme further, we’ve got a range of backgrounds that will look fab for your profiles, awards, collages and so on. Take this Oscars theme for example- it works perfectly as a background for your profiles as the colouring is light enough to support lots of text. We’ve also added this movie strip frame to a series of profile photos too 😀


Now obviously awards are a big thing in the movie industry and if you’re keen to follow suit, mix things up with some PNG frames and plaques. You’ll find these light box frames in the graphics and clipart draw and you can layer text and photos over them for some great results!

movie awards-page-001

Alternatively why not choose a specific movie or genre that inspires you and use this as a base for your design. I love this great Gatsby inspired book as it incorporated wonderful Art Deco graphics and styling. We’ve also seen Star Wars themed yearbooks and Mean Girls inspired books so there’s no limit to what is possible!


If you’re yearbooking this half -term, rest assured we’re still on hand to assist despite the holidays! If you have any questions about your chosen yearbook themes or your project in general, just get in touch by phone, email , instant chat or whatsapp 🙂

the AYB team

Exciting Endpapers


When your book cover is added to the printed pages, an endpaper is added to the front and back of the book so the cover seamlessly flows into the beginning of the internal contents. In our standard hardback yearbooks, this is left blank white and can be used to hand write messages on later down the line if you wish. With premium options though, you get to print onto these endpapers 🙂


As these inserts don’t need to take into account the gutter of the book, they are great places to add large group photos. If you don’t have a photo to hand though , you might like to go for a design like one of these:


For even more ideas, pop over to our Facebook page 😀

the AYB team

Stargazer Yearbook Theme


‘I know nothing with any certainty but the sight of the stars makes me dream’

Vincent Van Gogh may have been a little unhinged but he’s right sure right about this! We’re all dreamers when it comes to a beautiful night sky so it’s no wonder this has been so popular as a yearbook theme over the past few years. I’m not sure I’ve seen a year 11 yearbook go to print without at least 1 person sharing the ‘Shoot for the moon and even if you miss you’ll land amongst the stars’ quote! If you want to go for a stargazer theme, you’ll need to head in one of two ways- sci-fi style or dreamy journal style 🙂 Sci-fi styling looks fab with contrasting deep blues and silvers with title fonts like Megrim and body text in Orbiton.

If you’d prefer a softer approach, ‘Dawn of a new day’ is a delightful handwritten font that looks fab on our constellation inspired Wire Frame background and Starfield background that you can see in the example below.



Now we’ve addressed the fonts and theme choices, let’s see it in action hey?! In true Blue Peter style, here is a profile design we made earlier…


And for your cover design, a swirling nebular background teamed with a simple title creates a very distinct look… plus there is still plenty of room on the back cover to list peoples names, add a photo or maybe even an inspirational quote!


Reach for the stars yearbookers and you might just find the perfect theme for your book! Happy stargazing 😀

Get the look: Social Savvy


It’s said that teenagers spend on average 31 hours a week online so it’ll come as no big surprise that so many yearbookers are trying to incorporate social media styling into their projects. Last year we saw hundreds of snapchat collages going into books and there was a great celebration of all things social (and a little bit silly) about year groups today 🙂 I expect we’ll be seeing even more snapchat photos in books again this year! 

The key to replicating your online profiles with your yearbook ones first comes down to colour choice. Picking the perfect palette is super important so to help you get started here are the ones you’ll need:


Twitter Palette


Snapchat Palette


Facebook Palette


Instagram Palette

When it comes to font choices, you’ll need to have a look at the fonts used on your social sites and find a close match. Look at the qualities of the fonts to do this- are they chunky or thin, curvy or more angular?

Constructing your page layout may take a little time to get just right and you might need to tweak your designs according to how much text you want to show, how many photos a person has and so on. To prove it’s really possible, here is a page I made earlier:


If you’ve got your heart set on a social media style layout for your yearbook, do give me a shout if you have any questions 🙂 This theme will test you in terms of shapes and layering but the final effect is pretty darn close right!

Get the Look: Try our School Smarts Yearbook Theme

schoolIf you really want to capture your school life in your yearbook, you can opt to work in a school theme to your cover artwork and page designs. Uniform inspired covers have been really big in 2015 and they’re set to be in high demand again in 2016! So starting with this cover idea, how is it done? Well, you just need to supply your school colours and logo for this design. If you can’t get hold of a high resolution logo from school, try laying your uniform on a flat surface and taking a photo of the crest on there. Again, this image needs to be as high resolution as possible as it’s quite a big feature for this cover! With this cover, design you also have a lot of room to play with on the back cover so you can add a photo, word cloud or your year groups names in the shape of a 16 if you like 🙂


Setting your school colours as your palette is the easiest way to develop your school theme and personalise your book. Backgrounds such as paper textures work especially well but also ones like the chalkboard and pinboards look great in this theme.

custom background

Similarly, you can also ask us to create a custom background using your school logo 🙂 If you’ve got different house groups you wish to incorporate, you can easily create distinct sections in the book using the different palette colours and section dividers.


When it comes to fonts, you’ll probably want to select a combination of handwritten styles and bold title fonts such as Graduate and Vast Shadow. Graduate has a really American feel to it so would be perfect if you’re looking to recreate American style yearbook pages! For your main body fonts, you’ll want to pick something a little smaller but do ensure it’s clear enough as a smaller font size. If you need to squeeze in a lot of text in 8pt font lets say, you’ll want to avoid anything too skinny or swirly which may be quite hard to read. For more info on fonts, check out my last post on font pairing 🙂


Pinterest for all!


Like a lot of people out there, I enjoy Pinterest! It’s a fab site that allows you to save info and images to boards for reference later. If you’re in the process of deciding on a theme for example, head over and pop a few ideas in a search- you might decide that idea doesn’t work or you might find loads of cool examples to get your creative brain ticking 🙂 Either way, have fun and explore it I’d say. And if you’re interested, pop to our collection of yearbook quotes, typography and design ideas boards for more yearbook chat and tips! We’ll be adding to these throughout the year so do follow any boards that you’re interested in so you get updates on our latest pins.

Get the look! Your essential guide to journal yearbook theming :)


As a crafter, the idea of scrapbook style is very exciting to me. When it comes to translating this style into your printed yearbooks, you’ll want to use lots of different paper textured style backgrounds! Check out the backgrounds in the theme area of your book to get started 🙂 Whilst you’re in the theme area, have a look at your font options too- handwritten fonts will also really help you develop your theme so set your font palette up with a few choice ones such as Over the Rainbow, Fredericka the Great, Amatic and so on.


Handwritten fonts vary in style quite dramatically so bigger fonts, like Fredericka the Great for example, work perfectly for titles but not so well for profile text. Experiment with your designs to see which works best for you 🙂 Also keep an eye on the font size you choose as some handwritten fonts can be super swirly and ornate making them harder to read at 10pt or below.


When it comes to selecting colour palettes, you’ll probably want to go for something quite simple. Think back to those four colour pens you used to have in your pencil case and you’re probably along the right line. Reds, greens, blues and black will give you strong contrast but you might want to add some softer grey tones to the mix which will give you more of a pencilled effect. When you’re adding content to the page think also about how this is organised. Adding some photos in a more scattered manner or adding tape effects to show how things are stuck together will really build on the scrapbook style across your internal pages 🙂

contents1Journal style covers look great so you could opt for an old text book style or keep things looking slick by incorporating your font selections and giving your logo a painted effect. I love this cover for Langley Grammar School and even though the design brief is fairly simple, logo and title centred on the front, it looks super smart right? It’s very easy to overthink your cover design and throw lots of ideas into it but sometimes a stripped back approach just does it best!


For those of you making a books for your school trips, scrapbook styles look great too. If your group kept an actual diary throughout your travels, consider scanning your pages and/or its cover for completely unique design 🙂 Those little doodles and notes are all part of your journey so chat to us about how to best scan your offline documents and incorporate them into your printed books!

Your Cover Design

The cover of your yearbook is the first thing you’ll see. When the boxes of books arrive and you finally get to hold one, it’ll be the cover that will, if we’ve got everything right, make you go “wow”. Your cover should represent you and your institution and it’s the part of the book where you really do have complete creative freedom. Sometimes that can be a little daunting, so this week I’ll try and give you some tips on coming up with a great design and also how you can best communicate that design to us.

Some example cover designs 🙂

1. The Basics

Using your “Manage cover” button on the “Sections tab” you will find a page that will allow you to send us your ideas and for us to create drafts for you to approve or reject. This is very much a conversation so feel free to ask questions, even if you’re worried they may sound stupid, we’ll always do our best to explain things.

You can send messages to us from this page as well as attach files such as photos, logos and mock-ups. Once you feel you’ve submitted enough information remember to check the “Cover is ready to make” box.


2. Coming up with an idea

This is the hard part. There’s no right or wrong here and the possibilities are endless so you’ll probably want to do a little bit of research. Going to the library and looking at real, physical books is always helpful and we have plenty of examples for you to look at too.

To start with it’s useful to focus on three things;



What does the cover need to say? What font should it be in? Is that font a classy serif or a sleek sans? (Refer to last weeks article for some more ramblings on that subject!) Do you want the text in an unusual shape like an arch or a wave?




What colour is the background? What colour is the text? What’s the overall colour scheme? Does your school or uni have a set colour scheme that you’d like to use? Do you want it to be dark or light? Bright or muted?




Where do things go? How big are they? Is the logo above the text or below it? What do you want on the back cover? Is it nicely ordered or is it a glorious chaotic mess?


3. Communicating your idea to us

Once you’ve considered the above issues you may want to start coming up with drafts of your own to test things out and, eventually, be able to show us exactly what you’ve come up with.

You could simply write down what you want, this works fine, but doing a bit of design yourself can be very rewarding and means we’ll end up closer to your vision. Pretty much any image software, such as Photoshop, will do the job for this, even MS Paint at a stretch. Anything that allows you to roughly show what you want is fine, we’ll be using what you send us as a guide anyway. There are now even free online tools that will do the job of a professional image suite such as;

Alternatively, you can forget this altogether and send us a hand-drawn scanned bit of artwork by one of the creative people on your team. This is great as well and we can often put some filters and effects on these that will make them look even better. Just make sure these are print quality. By that I mean, the higher the resolution the better!


4. Getting the ball rolling

Okay, so maybe now you have some idea of what you want your cover to look like and you’re ready for us to start work, or perhaps you’ve still got no idea what you want on your cover, that’s totally fine too! Just let us know what it has to say on it and tell us “I kinda like blue” and we’ll go crazy! You can be as specific or as vague as you feel comfortable with during this process, though we will exercise our creative license when we have no information on an aspect of the cover. Whether that’s an awesome or terrible thing kinda depends on what you think of our creative license! 🙂

Whether it’s a long list of measurements and pantone references or it’s a sentence about how much you love unicorns, you’ll still need to jot this down in a cover message and attach any relevant files.

On the point of attaching files, I will reiterate; If you’re sending us logos or photos for the cover, these need to be of print quality.

“Oi Lee, you keep using that term but what on earth does it mean?”

Glad you asked. If you were to take one of the covers we create and look at it at full size on your laptop screen, chances are you’d be to see barely 1/8th of the whole thing. Printing is done at much much higher resolutions than the web so if that lovely image you want spread across both front and back cover looks a bit small on your laptop/web-browser chances are it’ll be far too small to be used for print. Below is an example of what we would consider a “print quality” logo.


Chances are relatively high that in the past your institution has created some form of printed work. If so, they will have print quality versions of their logo . . . somewhere. IT and Admin departments are the best place to ask. We do have the capability to clean up and even entirely remake low quality logos but never with 100% accuracy and the eventual effect may be a bit dissapointing.


5. The Drafting Process

If you’ve managed all that and the cover has been started, we’ll go into the drafting process. In this stage we take your ideas and create cover drafts based on them. Once we’ve got something that we think looks nice we’ll send it to you. This is where you can tell us you love it or that we’ve got it totally wrong. Feel free to be as honest as you like, us designers are well known for our thick skins. Do remember to check all text and pictures to make sure everyone who should be there is in there and that there are no spelling mistakes.

Once you’re happy with what we’ve done it’s time to hit the approve checkbox! Congratulations!

Check out some example cover designs 🙂