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

Ditmar

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 This is because I asked the committee if I could be withdrawn from eligibility – it’s been such an honour to receive several Ditmars in this category, but there are so many wonderful and committed fan artists who should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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kjennings-patreonmice

Some tiny cut-paper mice I put together as printable gift tags for my Patreon supporters as thank-you gift for helping make art like this happen (the full set is for $3+ patrons, and one is available for all patrons).

 

 

On Tor.com, there is a cover reveal for the first three episodes of Tremontaine, the serialised prequel to Ellen Kushner’s Riverside novels, to be published by Serial Box Publishing beginning at the end of October 2015. It is written by written by Ellen Kushner, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Malinda Lo, Joel Derfner, Racheline Maltese, and Patty Bryant, with covers by me.

Tremontaine Omnibus cover

The Tor.com post also has lots of behind-the-scenes pictures, but here is a quick time-lapse of the sketching process to whet your appetite (if I can get the video to work):

Middlemarch sketches

George Eliot’s Middlemarch is a very large book. I know this because I speed-read it last month, and that isn’t actually possible. It is also a very wonderful book: all the summaries, while strictly accurate, make it sound depressing but it isn’t – once you commit to the 1000 pages of it, everything becomes inevitable and deserved and in character. It’s a very tender, human novel. I like it so much.

I am not the only person to feel this way! Due to the machinations of master-conspirator Ellen Kushner, I met Danny Fein and Benjy Brooke of Litographs, and was commissioned to illustrate Middlemarch.

Middlemarch roughs for Litographs

A lot happens in 1000 pages, and the novel has an ensemble-cast, so the process of finding an iconic image was complex. In the end, I simmered the ideas down to a focus on Dorothea’s story (since she begins and ends the novel), and the idea of how the choices we make, the context in which we live and the passage of time all limit the options available to us (I’ve been told that sounds depressing, but spread over 1000 pages it’s almost reassuring). So the sketches featured Dorothea, her husband the elderly, academic Casaubon, Highly Symbolic Trees (TM), and passionate, unsettled Will Ladislaw.

Who lost out in the final design. I listened to many episodes of 99% Invisible in the process of cutting out the final illustration.

Middlemarch - Original cut paper illustration

 

The 1830s did not have the best sleeves.

I then scanned the silhouette in and moved a few elements around – detached the bird, extended the line of hills, and so forth – before adding colour, converting it to an appropriate vectorised image and sending it off to Litographs, to be overlaid on text and printed (here is a video of their process).

Middlemarch

 

It can be produced in black and white or other colourways, on posters, wall-clings, tote bags and t-shirts – all through the Litographs website. They also have lots of other books, and are reprinting Alice in Wonderland on people using temporary tattoos, so have a look around while you’re there!

KJennings LItographs t-shirt

Black-Winged Angels cover

I’m a huge fan of Angela Slatter‘s work (which just keeps getting better and seriously, you should read The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings and put it on all the award lists, and of Angela, so I was thrilled to illustrate Black-Winged Angels,  Ticonderoga Publications’ limited edition of some of her earlier dark fairy tales.

Angela had seen some illustrations I was working on for an art show, and asked if several of these could be illustrations for the stories in this collection. We discussed the others and I put together very rough digital sketches.

Black-Winged Angels sketches

I then sketched the final pieces loosely on the back of some black paper and cut them out. Silhouettes don’t have quite as many stages as other art styles.

This is for “Light as Mist, Heavy as Hope,” a story of lost parents and Rumpelstiltskin-bargains:

Light as Mist, Heavy as Hope

“Bone Mother”, a Baba Yaga tale:

Bone Mother

And “The Girl with No Hands”, whom I gave hands in the original paper piece, because I could only bear to cut them off digitally (painlessly, reversibly):

The Girl With No Hands

Altogether, I made 16 illustrations for this book, but I’m not posting the rest until it’s sold out!