Ta-da! The second set of (once again poorly photographed) pencil progress shots. This is a scene that appears later in Tamora Pierce’s ‘Alanna: The First Adventure’. I’m planning for three interior illustrations per novel in the Song of the Lioness quartet. It’s probably a good thing these are taking me a while to construct because someone has had the other three books in the series checked out since mid-July (I’ve been checking the library catalog every day to see if they’ve been returned yet). If I had the money, I’d just buy them already (it’s not like I don’t or won’t reread them). Patience, it’s a frustrating virtue to master.

Top left: Initial thumbnail. I thought it would be cool to draw her from behind for some reason, despite the fact that it’s usually a better design move to… not do that. I wanted to show the dark cave yawning in front of her.

Top middle: First pass at the illustration, keeping close to the original thumbnail. Eventually it dawned on me that it was a bad design, but I kept slugging through it anyway. Finally, I got to the point where it was nothing but flaw and frustration and I scrapped it. Unseen here is the number of retries I tried to get that particular vantage to work. It wasn’t gonna work. It just wasn’t It’s a good reminder that it’s always good to do multiple thumbnail versions of different compositions before choosing the best. If this was for a client, I would have, but since the illustration was for me (and Tumblr), I decided to skip that valuable step (ironically, to save time - see, it’s ironic because it ended up taking days longer than I’d meant; ah, the pitfalls of my own impatience) and dive in face-first. What could go wrong?

Top right: Once I scrapped the original composition, everything started working. This was the original sketch for the final, just trying to get Alanna’s posture and proportions right. Notice the creepy after-image of another head beside her. I pressed too hard with an earlier iteration and was unable to erase it fully. It didn’t matter because this drawing wasn’t to be the final version.

Bottom: Final graphite drawing. The foreshortened hand looks really odd in the photograph - there’s a subtly there that didn’t get picked up well by the lens. Scanning should fix that. The drawing still needs a few minor tweaks, but I’m thinking I might some of do that when I bring it into Photoshop. It’s going to get the same ‘wash’ treatment as the first illustration will. The magic light coming from her hand will get more apparent, as well. I restrained myself on doing all the lighting in graphite because I don’t want the drawing to get too textured.

In any case, on to the next one!