For my next biggish project, over the next 1-3+ months, I’m going to document my process and post it as I go. The reason the timeframe is so vague is that I haven’t quite decided the scope. I’m kind of umm-ing and ahh-ing over doing maybe 4-5 full pages or, like, 10-20 plus some extra spot illos.

  • Book: The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf (Book 1 of The Tribe)
  • Author: Ambelin Kwaymullina
  • Genre: Australian MG/YA dystopian future

Spoilers below the cut!

To start, character and world design. 

The two main settings of the book are the Firstwood, Ashala’s home, and the detention centre, her location at the start of the book. The detention centre is decribed as all white, very clinical and bare, for the most part. The Firstwood is a sentient forest based on the Country of the Nyoongah people, in the bottom corner of WA, and is filled with life and nature. I’m pretty sure that the contrast between these two locations is going to be central to how successfully my illustrations work as a cohesive set. 

Before I get into sketching composition possibilities I’m going to spend some time drawing tuarts and peppermints (the trees mentioned most commonly in the book), as well as that landscape more generally, to get a feel for how to make it feel alive. I’ll probably also look through some pictures of harsh modernist architecture to get some inspiration for the detention centre.

Character-wise, I’m trying to figure out the hierarchy of importance, and this is sort of dependent on how many pictures I intend to draw. Ashala Wolf obviously needs to be created. On top of that we have Connor and Jaz (SPOILERS) who feature quite heavily throughout. We have the villains: Neville Rose, and Miriam Grey. We have Ashala’s best friends, Ember and Georgie, who are vital to the story but admittedly feature more strongly in the sequels. We have Briony and Dr Wentworth who are in crucial scenes but not in the story for particularly long. I kind of want to do character designs for ALL OF THEM but I know that will take a while and it’s probably more important to get really good designs for the ones I choose to feature. Anyway, we’ll see. On top of this there are some dinosaurs and a giant dog-robot and an ancestral spirit who’s a huge snake, so I’ll need to spend a bit of time figuring out how I want them to look, if I want them to feature in the illustrations. (They’re important, but I do sometimes think there are things better imagined than illustrated.) (Also I’m a little uncertain re: drawing the ancestral spirit, given that he is based around the Rainbow Serpent. I’m gonna have to go do some research before I make any decisions re: whether to, and how, to draw him. I’m liable to skip drawing him because if I was actually hired to do illustrations for this book, I’d definitely want to consult the author on this point.)

Next update will have my initial sketches and studies of characters and settings before I move on to the ‘which-scenes-to-illustrate’ conundrum.