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Creating an RSPCA Assured recipe book

Earlier in 2020, we were contacted by illustration student, Bethan Brook, who wanted to collaborate with us to create illustrations for some of our Eat Less, Eat Better recipes. We thought this was a great idea, and so we said, “OK”. After a few months of hard work and lots of emails back and forth, the finished illustrations were ready. This is Bethan’s creative journey.

Working with RSPCA Assured

As part of our third-year project, we were asked to find an external client to work with. After researching online, I came across RSPCA Assured. I was aware of their products and thought that they would be an excellent match for me.

The RSPCA Assured website contains a lot of recipe ideas containing not just their farm-assured products but also vegetarian suggestions. This is part of their Eat Less, Eat Better campaign which aims to encourage people to reduce their meat intake and to opt for higher welfare options.

After contacting RSPCA Assured and asking if they would be interested, I began creating with my preferred style of fine liner outlines. This project was a challenge for me since I normally work in just black and white but in order to bring the recipes to life and make them look as enticing as possible, I realised I would need to add colour: I decided watercolours would be best.

Starting the design process

After adding colour, removing colour, and adding colour again to my simple black and white line drawings, I decided to move my project to the digital arena. This would make revisions simpler and also meant I could share my work more easily with my clients.

But I didn’t want to waste the hand-drawn work I had done so far, so I scanned these and pitched the idea of using them as a border. The team at RSPCA Assured liked it and so my initial hand-drawn vegetables made it to the final version.

Drawing the fruit and veg

While I wanted to make the pages look full and colourful, I was also mindful of not overloading them. As we say in design, you need to let the eye breathe. After submitting various options, we decided the charcoal brush colours would show the food off the best.

One problem I ran into was drawing the meat in the dishes, while fruit and vegetables look colourful and appetising, meat can be a little trickier. In contrast, garlic was great to draw, there’s just something about its shape and the texture that makes it fun and easy to draw: it’s now one of my favourites.

Designing the right font

I originally created a different font for each recipe, but while this worked for the pages individually it didn’t really gel when I brought them together in booklet form. After reviewing this, I decided on one font which worked well and was most legible and redesigned all the pages to include that one.

Incorporating the RSPCA Assured logo

My early designs featured the RSPCA Assured logo on each page, often over a coloured background. In order to keep the company’s brand guidelines of only placing the logo on a white background, I removed this and decided to place the web address on each page and the company logo just on the front cover.

Bringing it all together

Like any cookbook, the food needs to entice people and the best way to do that is by showing the finished product. Taking inspiration from the recipe photos, I set to creating designs of the finished dishes. Some of these were more difficult than others, particularly when they featured sauces.

Once all the illustrations were complete and had been accepted, I created a virtual recipe book and selected one of the recipes to go on the front cover.

Take a look for yourself

My recipe book is now complete and available for download. I’m very grateful to everyone at RSPCA Assured who helped me with this project and has given me the chance to use my studies in a practical environment. It was a very insightful learning experience for me and I hope we will get the chance to work together again in the future. ​

About Bethan

  • Bethan Brook is a student at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, Swansea. Together with illustration, her other passion in life is food. “I very much enjoy buying fresh ingredients from supermarkets or even better from open-air markets (when they are open) and creating beautiful illustrations to accompany the delicious meals I prepare.”
  • As well as campaigning for endangered animals, the protection and welfare of our British farm animals are also important to her.
  • Check out more work by Bethan at 

About the author

Jodie Adam

Jodie is RSPCA Assured's Digital Communications Manager. 

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