Every time I find a book with illustrations I notice them more. There are a surprising number, varying from brilliant to not so helpful. Sometimes I think really excellent illustrations are less atmospheric than those that are more … stylistic, let’s call it. Which is interesting, because I would call E H Shephard’s illustrations for Winnie the Pooh more in the atmospheric than excellent, in this case. Maybe it’s their apparent simplicity, which is in keeping with the stories.
Illustrations in my Princelings books
I decided right at the start of my publishing career that my books needed illustrations to start each chapter. At one time I thought I’d made a rod for my own back; once I’d started, I couldn’t very well stop in the middle of the series. Sometimes even the Christmas tales on the Princelings website get their own illustrations.
Last year, I had two books to illustrate, and I happened upon a meme called #Inktober, where artists do pen and ink (or similar) sketches every day through October. I jumped on the bandwagon to push myself to complete the drawings for Willoughby the Narrator, and The Princelings of the North, books 7 and 8 of my Princelings series. I found it interesting how much I’ve improved since the first book I did (which really need redoing), but also, how doing one a day really pushed me. Stylistically I think I’ve improved, but I hope they haven’t lost the atmosphere!
I always start them in pencil, then go over and shade in drawing pen, before erasing the pencil and completing them. My cover illustrator, Danielle English, got me interested in some new pens she was trying out, which would give me block shading. Dani is a fine artist, and you can see her work at Kanizo Art on Facebook, her website, Twitter and her new buying page at Society6. She has a penchant for dragons and strange, steampunk-like beasts!
The trouble with doing them on paper, is that I have to scan and import them. I’ve been tempted to get a tablet just for drawing, but it seems an indulgence. I tested an iPad Pro with the Apple Pen and it did seem very easy to draw with. Can I justify the cost?
At one point, I wondered if I’d get on better with rewriting my Viridian series book if I did illustrations for that, too. Well, there’s nothing stopping me doing the illustrations, I don’t have to put them in the books!
If you want to see what I did for Princelings 7 and 8, they are all on my Pinterest #Inktober page, but here’s a selection for you. The funny thing is, since then I’ve been more keen on drawing than writing. It’s been really hard to get on with the editing!
all pictures copyright 2016-7 J M Pett