The Chestnut King
This is the first part of a self-initiated project illustrating the 100 Cupboards series by author N.D. Wilson. The series consists of three books for children: 100 Cupboards, Dandelion Fire and The Chestnut King. I chose to start with an illustration for the final book.
My initial idea was to convey an impression of a man's face using some of the key images from the book. I did a few rough sketches in pencil, then worked up a mockup in Adobe Illustrator.
I wanted the illustration to have simplified vector forms, but also to keep a feeling of the hand-made. The work I do by hand often produces serendipitous results which I hadn't originally planned. I cut the letterforms out of paper and arranged them manually until I was happy with them. Then I created textures using charcoal and watercolour paint and applied them digitally in Photoshop.
I wanted to have this printed as a T-shirt, so I added 'secret' white elements which only appear on a coloured fabric. The white elements add a bit more contrast to the darker background.