Dulux heritage book covers

Rewriting the book on color choice

How our Dulux Heritage brand is bringing classic novels to life

Ever read a book and felt the story’s emotions leap from the page and paint evocative images in your mind? Now imagine translating those feelings into colors – and applying them to your walls.

Inspired by some of history’s most famous authors, and in collaboration with leading creative agency Ogilvy’s design team, our Dulux Heritage brand in the UK has republished 12 classic novels with reimagined covers – meticulously matching the artwork to a shade that captures the emotional narrative of each iconic story.

From Frankenstein, Dracula and The Hound of the Baskervilles, to Little Women, Wuthering Heights and Moby Dick, the new designs help transform the challenge of choosing color into an exciting and deeply personal experience.

All 12 of the stunning covers were intricately crafted by hand to demonstrate the genuine application of paint. They’re the work of the fabulously talented Marianne Shillingford, Creative Director for our Dulux brand in the UK and Ireland.

“Books help us feel an enormous range of emotions as we experience the lives of others through the medium of a story,” says Marianne. “By pairing 12 literary classics with 12 classic shades, the feelings they evoke are deliciously heightened, offering consumers an entirely new way to choose colors.

“For me, one of the most exciting and satisfying parts of this project has been the opportunity to use our paints and colors creatively to capture the essence of each title. We wanted to experiment with different ways of applying paint, such as using a brush, roller and spray, as well as trying drip, splash and pour techniques. No digital wizardry was involved at all, just good old-fashioned craft.”

The result of extensive research into the novels and their themes, each book includes a short text explaining why the specific color on the cover was chosen. “Dracula evokes feelings of sensuality, the artful use of power and giving into temptation,” explains Marianne. “This made it a perfect match with the equally ominous and glamorous Florentine Red – arguably the most impactful color in the Dulux Heritage collection.”

But how did she design the artwork? “To create the Dracula cover, a loaded brush was pulled along the top of a painted panel and then two pipettes of paint where squeezed in quick succession to produce the classic Vampire bite mark drips.” 

Amazingly, all 12 covers were created in just two days. For Moby Dick, it’s a combination of spatter and spray techniques to replicate the spout of a whale in Sky Blue. The Hound of the Baskervilles cover in Wild Blackberry was created using simple upward brush strokes to capture the wild location of the story and a creature’s claw sweeping across the surface.  

The most difficult? 1984. “It features a drip of paint in Oxford Blue that needed to convey the all-seeing eye of Big Brother,” notes Marianne. “So many drips, so many hours of frustration – but we got there in the end.” Her favorite? War of the Worlds. “I used Midnight Teal in a pipette to paint and spatter the image onto the surface. Like most of the book cover effects, it took just one attempt.”

And for Marianne, the experience of working on the project has resulted in a very happy ending: “This has been such a wonderful campaign to work on. The whole team gelled beautifully together to create something we’re all hugely proud of.”

The collection, published as a limited edition, also includes Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Sense and Sensibility, Mrs Dalloway and 12 Years a Slave.

For more information, visit Dulux Heritage.

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