folio society competition illustrations and process

by emmaillustrates

I’ve entered The Folio Society illustration competition this year, because… well who wouldn’t want to win that, it’s every girl’s dream isn’t it?  Forget the princes and unicorns.  This year the book was Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.  It’s a dark, unsettling read.  Three illustrations and a rough of the binding were needed.  So here they are:

From the first chapter “I found nothing else to do but to offer him one of my good Swede’s ship’s biscuits I had in my pocket”

From the second chapter “…the man stepped back swiftly, looked at me over his shoulder in an extraordinary, profound, familiar manner, and fell upon my feet”

From the third chapter “…a cry that was no more than a breath: ‘The horror! The horror!'”

acuteangles emma russell

helmsman emma russell

horror emma russell

Layout 1

Some sketchbook and such


Initial doodles and thoughts from sketchbook.  I normally use ordinary sketchbooks so I’ve had this concertina one lying around for ages.  It felt too nice to start in some weird way, but after a few weeks with it I LOVE it!  I like being able to fold it in different ways to look at what you drew a week ago on the same page as whatever you’re working on today.

Here’s the drawing and the colour separately:

acutedrawing acuteno line

I flirted briefly with the idea of putting a dark background behind the whole thing and going monochrome, a bit like this

acute angles

but it didn’t seem right, the forest colours felt important.

Here’s the drawing and colour separately for the Helmsman.

helmsman line  helmsman colour

And for the The Horror, there’s the initial wide composition which I tightened down into a more claustrophobic one and the final line drawing and colour.

horror wide horror drawing horror colour

When I was considering front cover ideas I was thinking about the image in the book of the river as a snake bewitching a young man.  Whatever I did with the cover I wanted it to be a silhouette with a pattern. Here’s the alternative and a couple of unsuccessful colour alternatives.

Layout 1 Layout 1

Layout 1 alt cover