I am an enthusiastic fan of science fiction / fantasy literature. Always have been. My sprawling collection of books threatens to take over all of our bookshelves and other genres at a moment’s notice, and I like it that way.
Earlier this year, I got an email message about the possibility of illustrating a cover with spiritual elements and a totemic hedgehog for an upcoming short story anthology from one Juliet Marillier, for Ticonderoga Publications. I remember thinking ‘wait, is this happening?’ In my sprawling collection were some of Juliet’s books, which I have enjoyed and devoured late at night, turning pages by lamplight with cats snoozing next to me. I also remember thinking, as I read the email, ‘it’s probably a good thing I’m already lying down.’ Heh.
I love collaborating with creative people, it’s one of my favourite things to do, so I thought I would share with you some of the process, from conceptualising the cover, all the way through to this week’s announcement of the official cover.
As well as a personally done colour sample, and individual sketches of hedgehogs for the delightfully named Prickle Moon, I did a few cover roughs, but the one we eventually agreed on, was one I developed in front of Juliet, discussing everything from colour, to tree symbolism, to placement and so on.
From there, I developed an official sketch showing all the compositional elements for a full-wrap cover.
And then, the process of inking. I decided to go with a more thorough style than what I normally use, to create a good sense of depth and texture. This part of the process took the longest, so I tied myself over by sending the occasional work in progress photo to Juliet and Russell. As you can see from the next photo, I was building up a lot of form with a technique known as stippling, or as we artists sometimes think of it: ‘oh god, my wrists.’ (Though I think it’s worth it!)
That said, I love stippling, because as time goes by, this incredible effect happens with the building up of simple dots. I was primarily using Artline Drawing System pens in the 0.1 size.
Which eventually lead to more detail:
And an ink illustration ready for colouring.
After inking, there is the process of overlaying colour to create a sense of depth. Juliet selected the colour scheme – a violet/purple monochrome palette and the effect of moonlight – and it was so much fun to work with. I have always been a fan of monochromatic palettes since they create unity and flow. Not only that, but it was also tremendous to work with the energy of hedgehog, and feel what it must be like to see the world from a perspective of toadstools and grass, where everything works on a different level than it does to us.
And now, I am so excited to show you the cover art for Juliet Marillier’s short story anthology, Prickle Moon, which will be launched officially early next year.
It’s been so much fun working in this way, and to have this opportunity. I’d like to say my thanks again to the awesome Russell and Juliet for the privilege. Let’s face it, what illustrator of narrative art doesn’t wish to see their artwork on a book cover one day. Not only that, but for a wonderful author, and publishing house, and a wonderful subject? Meanwhile, I shall be secretly (okay, not secretly at all!) thrilled to have another book to add to my sprawling collection of science fiction and fantasy books.