Analysis of Olly Moss Harry Potter cover

A large man and small boy hold hands while looking up at a looming castle

I have chosen to review the first in a series of covers designed by Olly Moss for the release of digital Harry Potter books.

The single typeface used seems to be a custom font that emulates a neat paintbrush, sans serif, with regular lines.


Harry Potter cover with a breakdown of colours used

The colour palette consists of 3 main colours; orange, yellow, and blue – which are complimentary colours. The shades of each colour vary a bit, but I have displayed the 5 most consistent shades in the top left of the image above. I find it interesting that the image is for the release of digital book versions, but the colour tones and brushed style are so reminiscent of physical paper.


Harry Potter cover image with red lines depicting margins

The cover has clear margins, with a little paintbrush spill that ties in to the overall style of the image and adds a bit of a dynamic feel, as if the image is spilling out of its bounds, perhaps into the real world.


Harry Potter cover image with demarcated grid overlay

Although there is not a clearly delineated grid, the image seems to have four distinct rectangular layers, each containing a single important feature of the image. Further explanation is embedded in the image above.


Harry Potter cover with a grid of thirds overlay

The image has clearly been designed with the rule of thirds at least in mind. When a ‘grid of thirds’ is laid over the image, three important key features are revealed:

Firstly, the imposing castle in the image is situated along the top right point of interest, immediately catching the viewer’s eye.

Secondly, the characters central to both the cover and the story are placed along the horizontal lower third.

Thirdly, almost as a bonus, the mountain peak in the background could be lost in obscurity, but its placement on the top left point of interest draws it back into the image, creating a little bit of extra detail right where it needs to be.


Harry Potter cover image with red lines depicting diagonal features

In addition to all of the above, the artist makes very astute use of diagonal lines, drawing the viewer’s eye from one feature to the next in such a way that their eye never needs to skip over empty or dull parts of the image.

Two striking parallel lines (indicated in bold above) slash across the image, replacing the need for a grid by separating the three key features: the castle, the characters, and the copy.

Almost perpendicular to those lines is a central diagonal line. This line connects the castle in the top right to the central characters near the bottom, demarcated by a well detailed and exquisitely shaded cliff.

Additional diagonals are revealed in the details; the line of boats heading towards the bridge, the orthographic structure of the castle.

All of these large and small diagonal lines serve to draw the viewer’s eye across the image, telling an entire story in a single frame.

One Reply to “Analysis of Olly Moss Harry Potter cover”

  1. Thank you for the post! Great job on your first assignment.
    Try to find an underlying typeface although, the typeface is textured as you said. To me, it looks similar to Brandon Grotesque.
    I agree with you that all the style choices made on this poster are reminiscent of physical paper. A consistent art direction makes a successful poster.
    You nailed it on the four horizontal rows and the rule of thirds. The position of a castle draws the audience. I am impressed by your diagonal line analysis. The diagonal directions are dictating how the eyes should flow. Hence, effectively telling us a story.

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