The artwork for Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends was designed by Coldplay and Tappin Gofton; the latter designed the X&Y cover three years earlier. The design style for the album took months to be completed; it was initially developed from a set of large-scale sketches and paintings of expressive typo. Lyrics and song titles were boldly painted across old maps, books, copies of old paintings, newspapers and various sorts of second-hand things. The final work was photographed and later some additional typography was added by computer.
Almost all tracks from the album and the Prospekt's March EP have one or more graphic images. On the album's booklet there are nine paintings made by the band. The first is a blue map of Brazil that includes part of the lyrics from "Glass of Water" painted in white. However, the image was later reworked and used as the artwork for the "Lost!" single cover. The second painting on the booklet illustrates the song "42". The image consists of part of the song's composition written in a red background, with a black stripe covering the center. The design for "Cemeteries of London" contains an illustration of London, the song's title and a messy violet background. A portion of the lyrics is used on the top of it. The visual design for "Reign of Love" has its lyrics drawn on a green background. In the middle of the booklet, most of the lyrics of the album are shown amidst an unrecognizable object. The artwork for "Yes" consists of a ripped heart, and a line from the song, "Lord lead me not into temptation". The painting next to the song's artwork contains lyrics from "Viva la Vida". The artwork for "Death and All His Friends" was made with scissors and paper. Lyrics for the song appear in the design. The last page in the booklet is simple: a roman numeral of the number 7 painted in red and green on a yellow background. Some of the paintings were shown on a screen during the Viva La Vida world tour, or used on big balloons inside of the venues.