Cover story

David Doran on creating Alphabet Cities

Award-winning illustrator David Doran tells us about the process behind creating Alphabet Cities: Around the World in 32 Pull-Out Prints.

Alphabet Cities explores 30 different locations through travel posters. All of which take inspiration from vintage design, from 1950's adverts of the Cote D'Azur to early Underground posters.

This influence was further bought in through the concept of pull-out posters; taking the book from a classic picture book, to a collection of prints.

Each poster began with researching the cities, getting a grasp of iconic and recognisable landmarks, and trying to capture the atmosphere of each place. Once I had the key components together, it was then a case of sketching and composing the image in such a way that it highlighted the first letter of the city.  Some letters stand out clearly, whilst other are perhaps more subtle. 

London is one of my favourite cities and one I'm really familiar with. I wanted to feature iconic elements of the London skyline: the London Eye, the Shard, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben; aspects of the city everyone can relate to and recognise. 

My favourite times spent in London have been on cold, crisp winter mornings, the best kind of British days! I wanted to reflect this view of London in the colour palette so focussed on using the cooler tones for the image. 

The colour palette was integral to the book. I needed one palette to work across the range of destinations, capturing the many varying landscapes and climates across the globe.

As a result, the palette has a combination of both warmer pink, red and yellow tones and cooler blues and greens.

The lettering on the front of each poster was hand-drawn and designed in a manner which, again pays tribute to the travel posters of bygone eras.

Once I'd realised each city composition, it was a case of drawing each poster by hand. I find the hand-drawing element adds a personable aspect to my work.

Ultimately, each image is finished digitally, incorporating handmade print textures and tones.

More about the author

Alphabet Cities

David Doran

Travel the globe with 32 typographic prints inspired by the world’s greatest cities, all the way from Amsterdam to Zurich, with stops in Paris, Rio and Tokyo along the way. Perfect to pull out and frame. Also features quirky trivia on each city and a large double-sided poster.

Related features