So, Sarah Rees Brennan, author of the Demon’s Lexicon trilogy, is running a contest for her only copy of the ARC of the third book, Demon’s Surrender, which is coming out in June. (For those of you who haven’t heard of these books, they are awesome. And, for those of you who are looking at the title and wondering what on earth I’m doing reading them, they’re good. Not just the writing and the characters, but the way the characters love each other is just beautiful.) Anyway, I loved the first two, especially the second, so obviously I’d love a chance to read the third one before June. But I didn’t have an idea.
And then I did.
Awhile ago, mostly in high school, I was really into calligraphy and illuminated manuscripts. I did a number of these and had a lot of fun. Then I got to college and didn’t do any for four years. Recently I’ve been wanting to start doing some illuminated quotes again. Combine this with SRB’s awesomeness, and go!
I had a particular quote in mind, one that comes right at the end of the second book, and I had a specific idea in mind for the decorations. I got the second book out from the library and re-read it, for research. When I got to the quote I had in mind, I realized that it simply wouldn’t work out of context. In addition, it was slightly spoilery. So I went on a quote hunt. I went back and forth between the one I ultimately ended up with and one about Alan (“He tries so hard to be nice because he isn’t sure he’s good” [complete paraphrase]).
So I had the quote. Then I started thinking about design. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to have a thing to represent each of the main characters in a circle. I also realized that I essentially had six main characters, so I added two minor characters (Annabel and Gerald) to get eight total. I also doodled with decorations until I found a design that I liked (actually, this was almost immediately). It has the added bonus of giving me a small tear-dropped shape to add eight more things from the books.
I sketched the whole thing in pencil and also ruled lines and penciled in the the quote. The next step was finding my ink and pens. I did uncover them pretty quickly. I then inked in the quote.
You can see in that picture how much the pencil rough version and the final inked version differ in places. (Kind of like rough drafts and revisions.)
I don’t always use this next step, but I thought it would be helpful this time. I used colored pencils to lightly color in the curlicues in the decorations. This gave me a chance to think a bit more about how I wanted it them to look.
Then I used my watercolors to do the decorations. I overlaid white over the curlicues–something I’ve seen in medieval manuscripts and liked the look of. I wasn’t sure what I wanted the decoration at the T to be, so I started fiddling and ended up with the Goblin Market from a distance. The final step was to add gilt. I do this simply with acrylic gold paint–no gold leaf for me! I added it to all of the objects/scenes which had some kind of magical component. Mostly I tried to do it just as a light shimmer, but there a couple of exceptions: Sin’s wagon and Jamie’s knife.
One of the things I loved about this project was the way that so many of the object could be used for more than one of the characters. It got me thinking about them all a little differently. I did end up with it all pretty definite, though. Here’s the bottom right corner with, from the left, Gerald (Black Arthur’s ring), Sin’s wagon, Sin (dancing circle), the Obsidian Circle, Seb’s sketchbook, Jamie’s scary knife.
That’s it! If you have any questions, feel free to ask.