Here is the scratchboard Dancing Jack I designed for Laurie J Marks’ classic fantasy of mysteries and magic, automata and riverboats, is out of print no longer!
Now back in print, from the acclaimed award-winning author. Memories of loss drive Ash of Ashland to take her dog and leave her farm, to seek out the fate of her brother’s children. But she is taken hostage on a renegade riverboat and is forced to travel against the current, toward the past, where a lost king, lost friendship, and lost power offer danger and hope for the plague-devastated land.
Dancing Jack is officially available on 18 March 2023, but you can pre-order it now via Kindle and Smashwords. It is such a beautiful, enchanted, flowing tale.
Laurie asked for the eponymous paper Dancing Jack — but the details were still to be worked out.
As usual, I began by reading the book, sketching elements that appealed to me, seemed thematically central, suggested movement, and would suit both the shape I was working in (the Dancing Jack instead of the rectangle of a book cover, since the commission was for the figure himself).
Here are some extremely tiny details — you can see them to the left of my thumb in the photo above.
Out of these, I refined the various districts of the body, the pose, and the balance of black and white (in pencil). I scanned those in and printed them in a few sizes, so I could pick the version that felt most sensibly sized for working on scratchboard.
I rubbed pencil on the back to transfer it down — you can see here that I taped the sketch to the top of the board so I could pencil it in sections without losing my place. This kept things cleaner, and avoided lines being rubbed away as I worked. Then I inked each section and scraped the design out, referring back to the sketch.
The board I used was Ampersand Claybord, and the pigmented inks were applied with a marker. (I do sometimes use pre-inked boards and/or brush ink, but this technique I learned from a workshop Nicholas Delort gave.)
I like those almost block-print style roughnesses and remnants around the edges, so I deliberately overink areas just to scratch them back.
And here is the final Dancing Jack, of death and roses, life and seasons, crowns and rivers.
You can preorder Dancing Jack now via Kindle and Smashwords.
And while you’re waiting, why not catch up on the Elemental Logic quartet, now all available from Small Beer Press (print and digital).
If you do get them in print, those designs interlock. (I posed about them here: Elemental Logics.)