well I've been away for too long, making amazing books for Carlton Books Ltd has taken up a lot of my energy, and now it's time to get some new posts written.
Last year I started a series of large drawings about Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell BBC TV drama. The portraits are in the previous post, but last year I decided to make a set of book pages.
It was created as a challenge to make consistently good drawings for a project, and as the work progressed it became more and more enjoyable. It was very satisfying to be totally creative and push myself, to really improve my drawing and colour skills.
Spread 1- The Characters
Below is the background drawing. This is taken from a drawing which became an etching a couple of years ago. I wanted something suitably spooky and rich, with lots of branches which I could 'hang' the characters' pictures from. In the series there are mirrors which are portals to the Raven King's world, some of it is in a forest. I also wanted to make the artwork rich and detailed, to match that luxurious quality of the Regency era.
Spread 2- The King's Roads
This is the beautiful and decrepit kingdom of the Raven King, which Jonathan explores via mirrors. I wanted to mix the text with the imagery, without it intruding on the main scene- which was the amazing piled up view of towers. The original was created by Milk-vfx, and was absolutely stunning. I was really impressed with how they'd turned a corner of Fountains Abbey into a different world.
When I was an art student at Harrogate College we used to go drawing in the Abbey, getting very cold and sore knees bending down to draw on huge pieces of paper on the ground, and covered in pastel dust. I suppose this is why I have a soft spot for the place.
Spread 3- Strange and Norrell summon the Raven King
This is the climax of the series, when the two magicians summon the very powerful Raven King to help Strange rescue his wife from the evil 'Gentleman'. Again, I had to judge which part of the scene to use, (and then go down a different route), and finally return to the most powerful image of the storm of ravens entering the library.
Final main drawing.
I love book covers, and realised if it was to be a complete project, it needed a cover. All the design is illustrated, no photography, and a lot of time was spent in deciding on the layout, mostly where the 2 ravens sat on the front. Would it be a subtle cover where the design hints at the content, or make it rich and detailed? The latter won- it has to spring out from a bookshelf to catch the eye, and I'm a big fan of dramatic imagery. The BBC and Bloomsbury logos are included as they deserved mention, being the publisher and producer of the book and TV drama.