Cover art: Arcanos Unraveled

Arcanos covers

Meet Anya Winter, junior professor of magical textiles at Arcanos Hall. She spends her days designing invisibility cloaks and teaching reluctant sophomores to knit. If she can avoid her conniving ex-boyfriend and steer clear of campus politics, that’s a plus. But everything changes when her secret university is unshielded by a saboteur, placing the entire magical community at risk. Joining forces with a rebellious princess and a mysterious engineer, Anya must save her school—and her reputation—before it’s too late. But can she really change the world with just a ball of yarn?

This are the covers (e- and print) which I illustrated and Stewart Williams designed for Jonna Gjevre‘s novel of magic, knitting and computers, Arcanos Unraveled. (Print, Kindle).

Stewart did a splendid job, and if any of you are looking for a cover designer (and you should be, they are worth their weight in gold), his website is: Stewart A. Williams Design.

Every so often a project comes along which forces me to dust off my needles and knit a swatch for art-reference. I couldn’t find the needles this time, so ended up knitting with a pencil and the handle of a paintbrush.

Arcanos cover thumbnails 1

In the end it was decided to do a design that could function as two covers or a wraparound – there was some refinement, with boots.

Arcanos cover thumbnails 2

And sheep were cut out. They have these beautifully, misleadingly patrician faces. For scale, those are half-inch squares on the cutting board.

Arcanos cover art - sheep

I cut the illustrations out as two separate images which could be joined over the spine if so decided (although in the end they were framed by blue).

Arcanos cover art

Then I tidied these up, and sent the files away to be turned by Stewart Williams into something marvellous and blue.

And if you want to get early sneak-peeks and process details on projects like this, I post those for supporters on Patreon.

Arcanos cover art - sheep

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All the 2017 calendar art


Happy new year! This is a little round-up of the art from all my 2017 monthly calendars (made with the support of my wonderful patrons on patreon.com/tanaudel). More to come this year (January is already up, if you missed it: Clockwork Birds).

January calendar: highly artificial

Welcome to 2018 (almost)! I’ve started the year with a little clockwork bird calendar, because they are so cheerful, and also because I have a story coming out in April from Tor.com (!) in which I picked up a few threads from “The Emperor’s Nightingale” and ran with them. It is called “The Heart of Owl Abbas”, and like this calendar has a noticeable lack of owls.

As has been the case all this year, the calendar is brought to you with the support of my patrons over at patreon.com/tanaudel. If you’d like to sign up to support the calendar and other art (for as little as $1 a month), you’ll even get it a few days early!

There are two colourways this month, as I was feeling indecisive. Pattern to follow. Please feel very free to print these for your personal use – pre-coloured, or to colour yourself! And if you did colour any calendar pages this year, I’d love to see photos if you’re happy to share.

The Cruel Prince – ornaments!

Guess what! I’ve ornamented Holly Black’s newest book, The Cruel Prince which comes out next year (and is available for preorder now – if you are in the US and enter your preorder details at http://thenovl.com/cruelprince by 11:59 PM (ET) on 1 January, there are freebies).

I did not do the cover, but I did draw the map, chapter decorations and incidental ornaments.

The picture below links to a short Instagram video of a few pages, including the map.

I’ll post more as the book comes out, but I was so excited to work on this – the map especially.

December Calendar: The River Bank

The December calendar is here!

Clearly I haven’t quite got Kij Johnson’s The River Bank out of my system (and if you are looking for gifts for this time of the year, it is an excellent one – the Washington Post agrees, and included it on its list of “50 Notable Works of Fiction in 2017“!). I’ve started a series of posts about the process of illustrating it – they begin here: The River Bank Process – First Response.

While The River Bank doesn’t make it into winter, The Wind in the Willows of course does, and the image of the mice singing carols outside Mole End is one of my enduring memories of that book. So I ran with that.

I think Toad in his moments of mellower, generous pomposity would have the best tree, and insist on (recognisably) playing Father Christmas.

Beryl skating was one of the first sketches I made for this idea (also, if this were a climate in which sweaters were warranted, I would want hers).

Went a bit stocking mad here.

Now, all these pictures take a lot of time! They have been sponsored all year by my wonderful patrons at patreon.com/tanaudel – they get the calendar early and $3+ patrons also get occasional downloadable stationery (there will be print-at-home cards using some of the images from this calendar). If you enjoy the pictures, and would like to keep seeing the calendar happen, and want to be a patron of the arts, see sneak-peeks, etc, you can join in here at Patreon (a few more supporters and we might yet be able to restart the Dalek Game!). Or if you use the calendar and would like to fling a few occasional dollars in the direction of the artist, this is my PayPal link: paypal.me/tanaudel.

And at last! Here is the December calendar, to print at home – precoloured, or to colour yourself.

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The Silver Well: Book launch (with art exhibition)

The Silver Well

“One English village. Two thousand years of stories. Best-selling legends of Australian fantasy Kate Forsyth and Kim Wilkins have teamed up in this collection of 7 incredible stories, all original and never-before published.”

I’ve had the honour of creating the cover art and internal illustrations for this brand new collection by the inimitable Kate Forsyth and Kim Wilkins.

It is currently launching around Australia, with the Brisbane launch next Wednesday 29 November at Avid Reader (free, but bookings essential). That launch will be accompanied by an exhibition of the original cut paper/cyanotype cover (if I can get it to lie flat) and pen-and-ink internal illustrations.

The Sydney launch will be on 30 November at Galaxy Books, launched by Garth Nix (but the only art will be in the books).

The Silver Well - originals

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River Bank: Early design

This is the second process post for my illustrations for Kij Johnson’s The River Bank (from Small Beer Press). The previous post was on my first response.

The next stage of the illustration process was to work out the style I wanted to use, and the character design.

I’ve always adored E. H. Shepard’s illustrations for The Wind in the Willows. Many many other great artists (Shepard was the fourth, and Arthur Rackham followed him) have illustrated Kenneth Grahame, but for me, Shepard most perfectly captured the gravitas and pomp, the comfort and homeliness of Grahame’s little folk.

E. H. Shepard (you might also know his art from such books as Winnie-the-Pooh)

If I were to illustrate The Wind in the Willows I would, I suppose, have to take an entirely individual approach. But because this was a sequel, I wanted to do what Kij Johnson achieved (with such apparent ease and vivacity) in doing with the text. She honoured Grahame while being herself in the telling. In the same way, I didn’t want to try to be Shepard, but I wanted to pay respects to him.

So I began by studying Shepard’s illustrations – his lines and shapes – until I began to feel that I could in some small way see through them to the living characters he was imagining.

As well as the ‘master studies’ above, I began looking at other approaches to drawing the characters, and also at reference of real animals (if I were to design characters from scratch I would start there).

Then I began to work out the new characters, in keeping with the old. Rabbits are underrepresented in The Wind in the Willows, so I went further afield – that’s a mislabeled study of a Tenniel White Rabbit at top right, below.

Fortunately, Mole did wear a dress at one point in The Wind in the Willows, so I could start there for Beryl, and begin to work out the rough proportions of both Beryl and Rabbit at the same time as working out some era-appropriate clothes for them.

And also the sorts of movements that they would need to make in those clothes. Beryl lost her cardigan and lace collar (above, lower right) and got something soberer and more sensible.

Rabbit went in the other direction.

Having sounded out the characters, I then made a quick reference sketch of varying heights. This is not a particularly easy job. The original characters are wonderfully fluid, able to fit into holes in river banks and drive motorcars with equal ease. 

It amuses me how the various illustrations and adaptations treat this. I decided to keep close to Shepard and go for an implied but unacknowledged variability. If J. M. Barrie’s fairies were only big enough to hold one emotion at a time, I think Kenneth Grahame’s folk adapt, from moment to moment, as necessary to contain all the adventures of life on the river bank.

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