The Marvellous Mr(s) Fox

Early last year, I was asked to illustrate a Theodora Goss poem for Enchanted Living magazine (a very beautiful magazine that’s a commitment to an aesthetic if ever I saw one).

As usual, the first step was to sketch my way through the manuscript, working out ideas and elements to play with as I went.


From there, I worked up a few more detailed thumbnail sketches for the editors to choose from.


We chose D, with its stand-alone illustration (I’m still quite fond of some elements of A, with its little hanging masks and insets).

The next step was a more detailed sketch, fairly small, but blown up to fit the page layout for approval. At this stage it’s all hand-drawn (with plenty of erasures!) except for the oval because we only have so much time in this life.


When I’m doing work for myself, I don’t usually work the pencils up to this level of detail — in fact, usually I sketch directly onto the back of the paper. But when approvals are needed, and it has to fit someone else’s precise dimensions/layout, I push the sketch a lot further.

Then I scan, darken and (hopefully remember to) flip the image, and trace it down on black paper using some white carbon paper (I’m using Royal Langnickel which seems to last for ever, and smells like warm velvet if it were made out of damp chalk). If I forget to flip the image, I can always fix that in post, but it’s nice to have an original that matches the final publication!


Then I cut it out, scan it in and tidy the contrast and edges digitally (I usually render it as a vector image: it gives a very solid black, with clean edges for reproduction, but preserves almost all my hand wobbles and unexpected angles), and add a slight paper texture and tint to it. Usually I will adjust to a suggested tone, but if it has to integrate with a larger design I let the art director play with tone and texture. Silhouettes are extremely forgiving in this regard!

And here is the finished piece (and a header) in Enchanted Living #46, Spring 2019.


1 thought on “The Marvellous Mr(s) Fox

  1. Pingback: February post round-up | Kathleen Jennings

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