Attention all fledglings! Dragon's Oath, the first House of Night novella, is almost out in shops!
On Friday, there was a fab interview with author P.C. Cast and illustrator Kim Doner. Today we have a very special behind-the-scenes look at Kim's illustrating process.
When I read Dragon's Oath for the first time, I read it purely for the pleasure of enjoying the story itself; as an ardent HON fan, I already knew of Dragon's loss from the series, so this novella added dimension and richness to his tale. The second time I read the story, I allowed myself to picture each scene in my mind – and I took notes about it. These characters may be nearly immortal, but they are at the beginning of such immortality and, therefore, they are like any other young couple. PC and I discussed how she saw them physically – vibrant, playful, Anastasia with thick blonde hair down to her waist, Dragon with "attitude" and lithe physique. In her story, their courtship is charming, and their first kiss full of the magic (or, as PC Cast says, "magick") anyone would want to experience. I wanted to capture all of this.
Part of magic is often found in the moments where things are not said, when gestures are suspended for a moment in reality… but forever in a heart. I wanted to create that moment for these characters, to trace their body language and show the second they begin to fall in love.
To execute this, I toyed with using hands – those revealing appendages we should watch (more than eyes) if we want information. I wanted them "touching-but-not-touching", intimate, an unspoken promise. Above all, I wanted it to show defenses lowered in a subtle way.
These are a few of the sketches I made: him approaching from behind her, sword down; her handing him a sunflower; her beginning to lift the face of a sunflower up towards him. But these weren't quite where I wanted to go.
I wanted more of their symbols integrated into the piece: his sword, her flower. Finally, I put it all together, and after a few more thumbnails, drew this sketch:
With PC's approval, I then "cast" the scene. I had my husband stand by a friend, and at the last second, decided to photograph it near sunset. My thought was that these characters could be walking, side by side, as the sun either rose or set before them – an added romantic touch, instead of having them with the nighttime backdrop. Here's the photograph:
With a few alterations – matching Dragon's sword with the one on the cover, cropping and changing clothing some, and making Anastasia's hand that of a girl rather than a more mature woman – I completed the illustration now in the book.
It's my favorite, too – his sword is lowered, but in front of them to defend her in an instant. Her flower is held back, slightly behind her skirt, waiting to be brought forth.
This is how they live for me.
Come back tomorrow for more exciting House of Night related info and goodies on our officialy PUBLICATION DAY extravaganza!!