Book cover: Mountains of the Mind

I’ve known Gillian Polack ever since, having read Diana Wynne Jones’s Deep Secret, I decided to go to a science fiction convention in Canberra. So I was honoured when Shooting Star, a brand new press, asked me to illustrate the cover for her collection of short stories, Mountains of the Mind, launched at Continuum earlier this month.

Here is the first round of thumbnails sketches (with colour inverted for ease of visualising possible treatments). I enjoy the challenge, with collections, of trying to get in thematic references to most if not all the stories.

KJennings-MOM-Thumbnails

We went with the first design at top left. Some details, however, required refinement — attempting to combine readability with some degree of historical accuracy, a nuanced line when illustrating stories by a historian. Here are some of those further notes.

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After a full pencil sketch was approved, I transferred the design to a larger than usual sheet of black paper: A3 instead of A4 — there’s a lot going on here and I couldn’t quite fit it inside the usual dimensions. I also forgot to flip the design before tracing it, so the original now runs the opposite way to the final design.

Cut, cut, cut.

KJennings-pencilling

Then I have to lift the design out without breaking any delicate bits.

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There’s a pure satisfaction in working the design out of the scrap paper and leaving the offcuts entire.

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Here is the image cut out and scanned in, waiting for a few minor tweaks where corners folded or joined, and general tidying. The grey overlay is to show the crop lines for the cover.

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And here is the final cover, designed by Wolfgang Bylsma of Gestalt Comics, art by me, book by Gillian Polack!

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(And if you like regular behind-the-scenes process glimpses, I show them (along with calendar designs, etc) to patrons on patreon.com/tanaudel).

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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Ditmars!

First of all, congratulations to all the winners and finalists for this year’s Ditmar Awards!

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If you were following the ballot announcements, you might have seen that I was shortlisted for “Best Fan Artist”, but that no award was given. This is because I asked the committee if I could be withdrawn from eligibility – it’s been such an honour to receive several Ditmars in this category, but there are so many wonderful and committed fan artists who should be promoted and considered, and as most of my illustration work is professional now I wanted to make sure attention goes where it should. Always happy to accept nominations in other categories, though!

However, I was a bit conflicted about withdrawing this year – because I designed the Ditmars, and I kind of wanted one!

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My part of the design was a cut paper silhouette – so much fun with the swirly bits!

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But the awards were cut and constructed by Allan Carey of the marvellous Type40 – your source for all your themed shield and weapon needs (check out the Wonder Woman shield!)

 

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Type 40

 

 

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Into the Woods: TOBEYOU exhibition

Into the Woods - TOBEYOU exhibition

This is a cut paper piece (c 8×8 inches) that I made for Light Grey Art Lab‘s exhibition TOBEYOU: personal narratives, tales and memory.

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It is called “Into the Woods”, and is about growing up reading fairytales when you live in the Australian bush. The protagonist of the illustration is far more willowy and on-trend than I ever was when I did this.

The original is for sale at Light Grey Art Lab (in Minneapolis, and on their website), along with many, many other beautiful works of art.

I also made a few cyanotype prints (sunprints) of the illustration.

Into the Woods - TOBEYOU exhibition

Tremontaine Season 2 Episode 13

 

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Here is the cover art for the final episode of Season 2 of Serial Box’s serialised prequel to Ellen Kushner’s Riverside novels, Tremontaine!

Earlier posts:

The final episode of a season is almost as difficult to illustrate as the overall season cover. How to represent what happens in this particular episode, while being true to the overall arc of the season and catching the right elegiac or hopeful note…

As a result, there were a lot of thumbnail sketches.

Tremontaine S2 E13 thumbnails

We went with the image of a Kinwiinik ship taking to the waves. Here are the final pencils.

Tremontaine S2 E13 pencils

And at last, alas, the finished cover (I’m particularly fond of the poppies). The final layout and design is, as ever, by Charles Orr.

Tremontaine S2 E13 final cover

Illustration Friday: Mischief

The Illustration Friday topic is “mischief”, which has a rather softened meaning in modern English.

The illustration, however, turned into the love child of The Cheshire Cat and Tailypo, and other things that hang head-down from the trees and whisper to you.

Illustration Friday: Mischief

I’ve also been playing around with cyanotypes (sun prints), so here is a print made with the original silhouette.

Illustration Friday: Mischief

Illustration Friday: Internet

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I had the blinding epiphany today, after trying out some white graphite transfer paper (Royal Langnickel which is the best name) that instead of squinting to see lead pencil lines on black paper, I could have been using a white pencil this whole time.

This isn’t a complete conversion: the lines aren’t as fine and don’t erase (whatever Royal Langnickel claims about kneadable erasers), so it’s only really good for designs that are fully developed before I transfer them to the paper – direct composition will still be pencil.

But good grief.