Reference objects: Clockwork Angel

Here are a few photos of reference objects for the 10th Anniversary of Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel (previous post about those illustrations is here: Clockwork Angel). They cover a few of my usual sources of reference.

The first is this little angel I found at ReLove Oxley, a wonderful local second-hand shop and cafe. The final angel design didn’t look much like this one, but it was useful for a sense of scale, how to handle fine features, and for the slight metallic finish.

I frequently go to ReLove for coffee, and often find useful reference — I buy enough that for this book they just let me borrow a violin. I walked home carrying it in its case, feeling like a gangster.

2020-05-18-Angel

A great deal of reference material, however, comes from around my house. Here’s a parasol that’s been in the bottom of the linen cupboard, a box of beads and bangles, The Myths of Greece and Rome (old books standing in for old books), Mortimer, my Year 12 formal dress, my grandmother’s gloves, and some crumpled paper. Not featured but also starring: spare buttons, fancy embroidery scissors (also a contributor to the Scissors calendar), and my letter-opener.

2020-05-18-Trove

Another old book: an 1887 volume of Cassell’s Magazine, printed on horrible Victorian wood-pulp paper which smells like burned sugar and is crumbling away at the edges. It’s a wonderful reference for illustration styles of the era, particularly homewares and mechanical elements, and its inventions page is delightful.

2020-05-18-Book1

Look at this: “a small pocket apparatus for the electric illumination of flowers, such as roses, to be worn in the hair or on the dress.”

2020-05-18-Book2

Architecture is always a challenge, mostly because I usually prefer to suggest it. Here I was mocking up light and perspective possibilities for a two-story library (the Hydralyte tin is a spiral staircase which did not end up in the picture due to dear lord spiral staircases).

2020-05-18-Dominoes

Fantasy frequently requires images of hands holding glowing things, and I’m gradually accumulating night-lights in order to work that out.

2020-05-18-Glow

Sometimes I just have to set up the image. Inkbottle, wine glass and magnifying glass on a sketch for a different illustration.

2020-05-18-Light

 

Cover reveal: The Spellcoats

2020-05-09-Spellcoats

A new cover! This one is for the Utz Books edition of Diana Wynne Jones’ novel The Spellcoats (part of the Dalemark Quartet).

The style is to match that of my previous cover for Utz Books’ The Power of Three (which in turn was to match the style of other Utz covers for Jones’s books). The process post for that is here: The Power of Three.

Gili Bar Hillel (of Utz Books) gave a fascinating presentation at the Bristol conference about the process of translating Jones’ novels — you can read that in the published conference proceedings (more information in this post: Howl’s Moving Contracts).

Australian Fairy Tale Society Conference

Bookings are now open for the 2020 virtual conference of the Australian Fairy Tale Society — Magic Mirrors: The Seen and Unseen (at which I am the keynote!).

The new format means they can have 6 sessions over the 3 days of the June Long Weekend: 9.30-11.30am AEST and 2-4pm AEST on Saturday 6, Sunday 7, and Monday 8 June. The rate is $30.

Signup information is here: AustralianFairyTaleSocietyConference2020

AFTS2020MagicMirrors

Flyaway in Library Journal

Flyaway is among Library Journal’s May reviews — with a star (and some other excellent books)!

You can read the whole review through here

2020-04-23-Library Journal 1

And you can preorder it here:

Beginning sketches: The Tallow-Wife

2020-04-17-KJenningsASlatter3

Since Angela Slatter has started posting teasers (instagram.com/angelaslatter), I can let you know about one of my current projects! I am currently sketching my way through her manuscript for The Tallow-Wife and Other Tales, the third volume in the Sourdough and Bitterwood Bible sequence. I also illustrated The Bitterwood Bible (The Bitterwood Bible Cover Art and Illustrations), and if the The Tallow-Wife sounds familiar, it might be because I previously illustrated the title story for a limited-edition chapbook: The Tallow-Wife.

As usual, I started by making a big pile of these little sketch-folds — cutting sheets of nice A3 paper into long strips and folding them with a bone-folder.

2020-04-17-KJenningsASlatter1

I like these mini-sketchbooks for several reasons:

  • I can make them of my preferred papers.
  • A handful of them will fit in a small pencil case, for working when I’m out-and-about.
  • They’re so short there’s no pressure to either fill or not ruin them.
  • They make a pleasingly fat little stack as I work through.
  • At the end, I can bundle them all up into a single book, and it’s a nicely shaped object that’s impressively long when unfolded.

Here’s a page testing pens, to see which matched best which previous illustrations.

2020-04-17-KJenningsASlatter4

It’s such a pleasure to just draw through these stories as I read them — they are very beautiful, and a chance to revisit a favourite world.

And finally, a long and angry fox.

2020-04-17-KJenningsASlatter2

For more, for now, I recommend following Angela on Instagram or Twitter.

 

Art process: The Darkest Part of the Forest

I was delighted to have the chance to design a header and ornaments for a rerelease of Holly Black’s The Darkest Part of the Forest.

TheDarkestPartOfTheForest

2019 edition, cover art by Sean Freeman, design by Karina Granda

Lately, I’ve been appreciating decorative illustrations more than I used to, and it was lovely to just spend the time designing faery swords and choosing leaves.

2020-03-21-DarkestPart-Sketch01

The header itself was an intriguing proposition. It was to be a specific object/scene from the book — the glass coffin in the forest. Glass coffins are their own challenge, of course, but for other single-header books (e.g. Holly’s Modern Faerie Tales trilogy) I’ve tried to pick images that are less specific and more broadly representative of elements of the book.

2020-03-21-DarkestPart-Sketch02

Holly has a very particular gift for combining the wondrous with the mundane, in this scene no less than others. Capturing the weeds and rubbish as well as the coffin and its occupant was a delicate balance.

It was also a slightly different style of drawing to my usual more 2d representations. This needed a dark forest to nestle into, as well as an ornamental frame.

Here are the completed pencils, to use as a base for the final drawing — you can see where I was moving things around digitally (e.g. the fox) as well as swapping tree sketches outs for different effects..

2020-03-21-DarkestPart-Pencil

I decided to experiment with more hatching, just because — in this case, leaving out the outlines in the background (which I am usually all about).

Here is the final ink drawing, as it appears in the book.

2020-03-21-KJenningsHeader

And a sword (and an epigraph, which Holly also always chooses beautifully).

2020-03-21-KJenningsSword

Exercises for illustrators and writers (from the perspective of the illustrator):

  • How much of an image can you show without outlines? How much of a scene can you write only by describing the background?
  • Think of a book (a favourite, or your own). Design a single iconic/thematic image that would work as an ornament to introduce all the chapters.
  • Find a single decorative image (the Public Domain Review is a good start — search ornament or browse around) that could work as a chapter header for a hypothetical book. Extrapolate from that to work out what sort of book it might be. In a book tuned to that image, what would the action/adventure chapters be like? What mood would the reflective sections have? What crises and reversals would happen in a book that could be summed up in that picture? Is this an image that necessitates the presence of a prologue?
  • You can do a similar exercise with an epigraph/leading quote. Let a book fall open, browse Bartleby or choose a random page from Wikiquotes (the ‘random page’ link should be on the right). That’s now the epigraph for an as-yet-unwritten book in your favourite genre. Proceed as above. (Or you could try a random quote as the lead-in for each chapter (or each scene in a short story) — choose a reasonable number, line them up, and work back from there to find out what the story (or an appropriate accompanying illustration) could be.