“On Pepper Creek” — illustration process

South of the Sun: Australian Fairy Tales for the 21st Century is now published and released (and can be bought)!

A particular shout-out to Lorena Carrington who did so much wonderful art & design AND illustrator-wrangling for the book! You can also support her on Patreon.

The anthology includes my short story “On Pepper Creek”, a story of a preoccupied (and morally ambiguous) family and an anxious (and amoral) stowaway.

It was a slightly tricky story to illustrate because (a) it’s mine and (b) it’s about something that largely isn’t seen (also, to the extent it is seen, I was picturing it in Emily Hare‘s style).

Here are some of the early thoughts I was working through.

16 ballpoint thumbnail sketches

As usual, I was charmed by the idea of doing a silhouette, and started working through the design for that, but as much as silhouettes leave to the imagination, they make it difficult to outright disguise something, unless you want it to be thoroughly camouflaged or confusing. Also, I was getting stressed by some other deadlines.

Pencil drawings of trees and waves and creatures with long tails.

In the end, I decided that since this was my story, I could have as much fun with negative space as I wished, and just hint at what was within.

The final illustration was in pencil and watercolour, and I did a few versions, until it was as loose as pleased me.

So here is the final illustration for “On Pepper Creek”, in South of the Sun.

Pencil and watercolour drawing of a long hairy arm and clutching clawed hand reaching towards a red spinning-top.