Kij Johnson’s The River Bank is now a real, published book that exists in the world. It is a beautiful story – charming and jaunty, and a delight to read as well as illustrate.
In addition to its many native felicities, the text is embellished by Kathleen Jennings’ beautiful incidental illustrations, grace notes sounded in E. H. Shepard’s mode with a line reminiscent of Beatrix Potter and a sensibility all Jennings’ own.”
— Amal El-Mohtar, NPR
One final, important point: Kathleen Jennings’s period-style illustrations add just the right extra magic to make “The River Bank” a complete triumph. If he were still around, Kenneth Grahame himself would be wildly applauding.
— Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
I’m away from my scanner at the moment, but will put up some process details. In the meantime, here is one of my favourite drawings:
I’m delighted to show you my cover for Christopher Rowe‘s collection Telling the Map, now available for pre-order from Small Beer Press. Wonderful strange stories of post-singularity hope and cycling, with one of my favourite gentle story endings. I can’t wait for you all to read it so that I can finally talk about it!
Here are some of the early thumbnail sketches. The art direction was for a map with vignette illustrations inset. Fitting the relevant geography around the necessary images and text was a spatial challenge, as I couldn’t purely invent it but did need to make it serve the design.
I’d previously illustrated the first story in the collection, “The Contrary Gardener”, for Jonathan Strahan back in 2013(!), and it was such a pleasure to come back to this world.
I’m very much enjoying working on illustrated maps. Stay tuned for another coming up soon! (Or join us on Patreon to see these projects in progress and get early reveals).
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.
We went with the image of a Kinwiinik ship taking to the waves. Here are the final 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.
I hadn’t yet read any of Frances Hardinge‘s novels when Gili Bar-Hillel of Utz Books asked me to illustrate the cover for the Hebrew translation of The Lie Tree. And oh, it is so very good!
Here are a few of my first thumbnail concepts for the cover.
The novel is a beautiful combination of gothic mystery, scientific discovery, faith, lies, ambition, hubris and secrets. Part way through I realised that it felt like Matthew Arnold’s poem “Dover Beach”, and then a particularly apt sentence sent me back to the beginning to check for a nonchalant line that convinced me this was entirely deliberate on Hardinge’s part.
Here are the pencils. We decided to go with more open vinework around the title.
I then cut the final image out of black paper, and sent it through for the designer, Dor Cohen, to do wonderful things with.
The Hebrew translation of France’s Hardinge’s novel The Lie Tree, translated by Yael Achmon, is now available for pre-order from Utz Books: The Lie Tree.
Thanks to my supporters on Patreon who help give me time to put together these process posts (and who get to see projects like this early).
Episode 11 or The One In Which Nothing Good Happens. Since I read manuscripts to look for images to illustrate, my reader-reaction is usually somewhat muted. Not in Episode 11. I’ve obviously read Season 1, but also I’ve read the novels that are set later, and suddenly a whole lot of events started rushing together to squish my beloved characters.
I had to keep putting the manuscript down to worry, and then read on with my hand covering the bottom of the page so I couldn’t spoil it for myself. If you click on this link it should take you to the Twitter thread of me mostly just gasping and hiding under the sofa cushions:
So much drama! And everything is winding towards the TERRIBLE EVENTS of the last episodes.
So we went for pure drama – a scene at the theatre, and lots of fun to be had with draperies, fringes and evil leaning gentlemen.
And getting confused by all the curly bits.
I should have put together a selection of Diane reaction shots from these thumbnails. She’s such a contained, boiling character.
We had a bit of difficulties narrowing this one down – I ended up putting together full pencils for two of the thumbnail designs, and two of one image, because old fashioned locks aren’t always easily identifiable as such, especially at a small scale (worth image searching, though – so lovely).