At some point earlier this year, I came across some Tiktok videos of folks creating gorgeous, custom hardback covers from softcover Percy Jackson books.

I then remembered I have first edition hardback copies of all the Heroes of Olympus books, as I was obsessed with the series as it released, and middle school me insisted on having hardback copies for each one. For years, they’ve been sitting on a shelf untouched. I threw out the book jackets as soon as I got them, and they aren’t in pristine enough condition to be worth selling, so…

I A) have bookbinding supplies in abundance, B) have been learning bookbinding skills and C) use Adobe Illustrator for a living. Custom hardcovers was a natural next step for my beloved old books.

Stack of Heroes of Olympus books

I waffled on the project concept for at least a couple months, not quite making any progress other than thinking fondly on the idea. Finally on July 16 ’23 I had enough free time & grew sick enough of my own inaction to just do it and busted out all 5 designs in the span of a couple hours.

I took measurements of each book’s cover, spine, and hinge dimensions to give myself accurately-sized canvases to work with in Illustrator. I then used the above linked TikToks as design inspiration, taking from them the idea to use a circular Greek key pattern & symbols important to each book’s story.

I printed each design on legal paper to see physical mock-ups on the actual books & make tweaks as needed.

The Lost Hero

For this book, I chose a dragon for the spine symbol as Festus is the most memorable part of the book for me. It was tricky to find one that didn’t feel like a flesh and blood dragon, and I’m happy with what I picked! I also have roman numeral 1 on the spine as this is the first book in the series. Each book’s design has the Heroes of Olympus coin present on the original designs as well as its corresponding roman numeral.

I chose some mechanical gear motifs for the front & back cover to represent Festus’ mechanical nature and the many gadgets Leo constructs out of nothing throughout the book. He is my special little guy <3

The Lost Hero alternate front cover design
The Lost Hero custom back cover design

The back cover has this book’s quest prophecy on it. It reads:

Child of lightning, beware the earth,
The giants’ revenge the seven shall birth.
The forge and dove shall break the cage,
And death unleash through Hera’s rage.

– tha oracle

The title & author font is Vectis, the original font used for the Heroes of Olympus books. The prophecy font is Trajan Pro.

The Son of Neptune

This one features an eagle on the cover to represent Camp Jupiter, the proper introduction of the Roman Pantheon to the Percy Jackson world, and the Twelfth Legion’s lost golden eagle.

The spine is a trident because I forgot the plot of the book when I was choosing the symbols and thought the golden eagle was actually a trident, but also it’s Percy’s re-introduction so it stays 🙂

The back quotation is this book’s quest prophecy, split into the two fragments we get from Ella and Mars.

To the north, beyond the gods, lies the legion’s crown. Falling from ice, the son of Neptune shall drown-

Ella the Harpy

Go to Alaska. Find Thanatos and free him. Come back by sundown on June twenty-fourth or die.


Although the group receives Mars’ quest instructions first in the book, I have Ella’s recited prophecy first on my cover as I find the idea of Mars’ blunt instructions cutting off the partial prophecy very funny.

The Mark of Athena

This one’s much of the same in terms of design principles. The cover has a spider web to represent Arachne’s presence in the story and literal spider webs and more abstractly, Athena and Annabeth’s internal conflicts in this book. The spine is an owl, as Athena, the Athena Parthenon, and Annabeth center very heavily in the story.

The back symbol is abstracted vector art of the Argo from the Odyssey floating through the sky, as the Argo II is modeled after the original Argo and does a significant amount of air travel in this book. This book’s back quote is, as expected, the quest prophecy.

Wisdom’s daughter walks alone,
The Mark of Athena burns through Rome.
Twins snuff out the angel’s breath,
Who holds the key to endless death.
Giants bane stands gold and pale,
Won through pain from a woven jail.

Ella the Harpy

The House of Hades

The cover is admittedly cheesy on this one. The zombie hand breaking free from the ground was the best way I felt I could showcase how monsters returning from the dead immediately is the center of the conflict in this book.

The spine has the least suburban-looking door vector I could find, to symbolize the Doors of Death.

Given the ah, circumstances surrounding the beginning of this book’s plot, there is no quest prophecy. In its absence, I included the one line from this book that still makes me emotional, even after not having read the book for many years and seeing the quote on the wiki page.

The rest of the heroes continue on toward Athens on the Argo II, and Percy, remembering that Bob missed seeing the stars and had asked Percy to say hello for him to them, looks up at the night sky and says to the stars, “Bob says hello.”

The House of Hades, Riordan Wiki

There’s broken chains on the back of the book to symbolize the climax of the plot, Hazel breaking the chains holding the Doors of Death in place.

The Blood of Olympus

I think I should read this book again. I remember giving it hell on release, but I also had 4-5 years before it dropped eagerly imagining an epic, satisfying ending. My standards were thus set impossibly high.

The cover of this one features an ancient Greek war helmet on a vaguely feminine head to symbolize the Athena Parthenos. I was going to use a statue vector resembling the real-life Athena Parthenos, but this is much more visually appealing.

The spine has a Roman gladius crossed with a Greek xiphos to represent the war between Camp Jupiter and Camp Half-Blood. The back design is the symbol of Asclepius, who creates the plot-important physician’s cure. The back quote is the Prophecy of Seven that hangs over the entire series, summing up the massive conflict that comes to a close in this book.

Seven half-bloods shall answer the call,
To storm or fire the world must fall.
An oath to keep with a final breath,
And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death.

The Oracle of Delphi

Next Steps

Next up is physical construction! Each book will have a different dark color of bookcloth based on the original hardcovers. The designs will be done with silver metal heat transfer vinyl, cut on my Cameo 4.

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