some thumbnails of my illustrations

some thumbnails of my illustrations
Please click on the links below to view my portfolio ........ Images copyright of Carrie Osborne

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

WIP - A Flight of Dragons... to leaf or not to leaf?

All images copyright of Carrie Osborne 2011

Finally the Dragon spread - first of the three full colour spreads I need to go with my dummy book roughs, is finished (nearly!)
This has been a long project with trying to steal time here and there to work on it when I can. Its a double page spread so the 'gutter' or fold of the book runs down the middle of the illustration, and the text will go in the paler areas on the right hand side of the page.

I had intended to embellish quite a few of the spreads with small amounts of silver leaf through the book, a flash of moonlight on silver scales here, fish glittering in water there....
So the painting phase of this one I think I'm done with, which leaves the question - to leaf or not to leaf???
It would have to be subtle in case a potential publisher didn't want to go down the foil route, (because I do want to try and get this published if I'm very, very lucky and if I get over my fear of travelling to London!) but of course scanners and printers don't reproduce reflective qualities all that well.
I think I'm going to get it scanned before doing any silver leaf just in case...
Some details for you:

Also I thought you might like to see some work in progress shots...

After stretching paper and drawing out, I always start with the most chancy and most terrifying bit - the big wet-on wet wash... this can either make or destroy a painting before its begun! But thats exactly what I love about painting this way with watercolours, there's an unpredictable element where the paint moves to its own purpose, merges, spreads, and it can be really beautiful and unexpected.

Of course I know which colours I want where and which I want to merge so there is a fair amount of deliberation before placing each heavy stroke of colour, then just keeping my nerve enough not to interfere with it too much as it starts to move!
To add another level of unpredictability I've really got into using salt, both fine grain and rock salt on my washes, and I love the effect you get, though its quite easy to get carried away and do too much!

Here's a few drawing board shots as it progresses...

After each night's painting I usually scribble notes to myself around the edges to remind me what needs doing next while its fresh in my mind, sometimes its several days before I can get back to it. I'm still undecided about that moon....!

I hope you don't mind the self-indulgence of this rather long post... getting the first spread done is a real milestone on this project and means I'm very nearly at the end of it, (which I never thought I would be at times!)
The next stage will be the most daunting - trying to get appointments to show it to publishers, laying it bare and bracing for the inevitable critisms and rejections which I am more than prepared for... but you never know until you try do you!


  1. Hi Carrie, I just love your work it is so ethereal. Every time I look at one of your pieces I am in a different place. they just draw you in. You have such a delicate touch. If you are worried about using foil or silver leaf, you could just embellish here and there with silver outliner paste (used for outlining glass painting) you may need to practice a little on a piece of paper first to get used to squeezing the tube and 'drawing' with it at the same time. it does give a slightly raised effect, so I am not sure if it would be suitable for scanning, its just a suggestion.

  2. Hi Carrie - first of all, no apologies about self-indulgent posts, I think good creative posts are ones that share the depth of our experience, I love seeing your process in this. I also love how you're incorporated the salt wash technique in the illustration - really balances the more defined bits, wonderful! I haven;'t used salt in a long time, maybe once I'm back to painting for real (after I move studios!), I'll give it a whirl again, thanks for the inspiration! And I DO hope you'll get to London, this is really a great thing.

  3. This is just beautiful Carrie, if this is a taste, the book is going to be stunning. As for the 'to leaf or not to leaf' question, perhaps talk to/email a printer to get their opinion (or another published artist perhaps, I'm thinking of Jackie Morris). It's been a while since I had anything much to do with the printing industry (ex! graphic designer), but gold and silver doesn't generally scan well, so if you want to use leaf, you might be better to use very good, high resolution photographs of the artwork that will pick up the shine and highlights, rather than have the originals scanned. But I'd ask around!

  4. I was looking forward to seeing your finished painting and I'm not disappointed - it's wonderful, I absolutely love it!

  5. Carrie, this is stunning.
    Leaf would be beautiful on it, but then there's the problem you mentioned. As Christina/Mermaid suggested, it's worth asking around to see how other artists are doing it.
    Thank you for sharing the work in progress pics with us. It's always fascinating to see how a piece comes together.
    And - best of luck finding a publisher!

  6. I'm sure you've heard of Jackie Morris the illustrator and children's book author (she lives in Pembrokeshire). She has a Facebook page -- she might be able to give you some useful advice or recommendations.

  7. Your painting is stunning, I almost missed it as I have not had much time to blog. I love the delicate colours and the rock salt effect which works very well.


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