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Illustration Process

Hello Friends & Readers,

Hope you're all well. I'm currently battling a little bit of a writing-block at chapter 18 of the sequel novel, so thought a blog post might help. I really want to complete the sequel draft before I start editing the final version of the novel for release this summer, so the pressure is getting to me!

I wanted to talk about the process for finding an illustrator for my character designs. I always knew I wanted some drawings created for me to be able to refer to and really make them come alive for me, and it was something I was willing to spend money on for a proper illustrator to help me with. (My art skills are minimal!)

I will be doing a video for my Booktube channel on the resources I used throughout my book process, but the two I will be mentioning mainly in this post are Pinterest and Upwork.

I have a huge, private Pinterest board which I used for Enmity, and in there I dropped various stock  images of people I stumbled across who I felt were good representations for the characters I had in mind. The two I had 'pinned' for Kai and Maia are below:

I then had to find an illustrator I liked. My budget was small, so I was looking for someone truly passionate about the project who would be willing to do it largely for fun. I created a profile on Upwork and uploaded an ad with my budget and let people respond who were interested, asking only for a link to their portfolio.

I was literally overwhelmed when I checked in the next day and found around 37 applications! I had only expected 2 or maybe 3, so I had to set aside a block of time to go through them all carefully, selecting my favourites and 'shortlisting' them via the app. I narrowed it down to four people, and after asking around for friends & family opinion ended up choosing to work with Estanislao,  who I chose specifically because I liked the realism injected into his style. The other three I shortlisted weren't quite right: two were a little too 'Disney' for me, as the book is targeted at YA and not pre-teens, and the other was too fantasy-oriented. Estanislao had experience in graphic novels and video game design, and was the perfect mid-way - his portfolio is available to check out here

He was an absolute dream to work with, very quick and communicative, and sent me his designs every step of the way for feedback and so we could bounce ideas off each other. I sent him a detailed rundown of the character traits, personalities, and a story outline but told him when it came to costume I was struggling a little. He took in the climate of each characters' homeland, and their experience throughout the book and really brought the costume together using his own artistic licence, and this is something I will incorporate into the final book as a result. 

These are the initial sketches I was sent, through to the final piece:

For Kai he really nailed the costumes and the expression of the character. We pulled his hairline forward and made his glasses bigger to make him look younger, and Estanislao created the tattoo design based on celtic and astrological references I sent him to really bring it together in the final form. 

 For Maia I had a clearer idea of her costume, but less of an idea with her hair. We ended up going with a shorter, loosely braided style which fit in with her background, but I was worried it looked a little Targaeryan. In the final colour-edits we added a little more yellow tones through the hair and darkened the eyebrows, whilst I think the warmer and darker skintone against the shock of light hair will be the differentiating factor between her and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones. (Any likeliness was strictly accidental!)

I hope you enjoyed hearing about the process for this, and I'll check back again soon with more updates!


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