Operation Alphabet is a new picturebook aiming help children learn their letters with a very creative heritage. It''s written by Al MacCuish, a creative director at east London ad agency Mother and designed by the same firm's head of design. It's illustrated by Spanish airport-worker-turned-artist Luciano Lozano in a retro-style book to help children learn their letters.
The book follows five-year-old Charlie Foxtrot and his adventures with the top-secret government department ‘The Ministry of Letters’, where all the letters and all the words in the world are created.
Barcelona-based Luciano was commissioned due to his work on an unpublished Spanish children’s book, which had been done in a 1960s style. The brief was to make the illustrations look as though they had been drawn in the 1960s and kept inside a drawer until someone discovered them today.
The project had a number of special considerations, as the target readership of seven to eight-year-olds had to be able to see the letters clearly.
It was here that Luciano’s degree in typography came in handy, as well as what he learnt during a short course on children’s literature.
"One of the first decisions was to make the letters flat, as it is the way children normally see letters. An A always had to look like an A," said Luciano. "An A in profile would lose its shape and might be confusing for someone who is starting to know them.
"For the same reason, we decided to add the letters as if they had been printed and then animate them."
Luciano normally draws by hand, scans in and then works in Photoshop, but as the project had to look older he was forced to work differently.
"I started drawing the whole spread by hand but then realised I couldn't work on the composition once it was made. So I combined both techniques and was really happy when I saw the result," Luciano says.
"I drew all the elements with watercolour pencils, watercolour crayons and ink, then scanned them and made the layout with Photoshop layers. In that way, I could have the freshness of something made by hand but could move all the elements within the page."
Here are some of Luciano's illustrations from the book:
Operation Alphabet, which comes with a special alphabet poster jacket, is published by Thames & Hudson and costs £9.95.