Book Illustration Challenge

So I have decided to take up a challenge I found online to create a book cover illustration.  The guys running the website where the challenge was posted are awesome artists and it’s really just for the fun of doing it and for additional portfolio content creation.

Here are the general parameters:

“…the challenge here will be to make this title look fresh and not derivative of things youve seen done with it before. 


this book, of course, is the tale of a young boy who sails through the skies on a magic adventure with a host of anthropomorphic bug creatures. you are being asked to envision this in a way that hasn’t, to date, been done before. there are no requirements for what you have to show, and which characters you include or leave out are entirely up to you! 

the ONLY rule, should you choose to participate, is to LEAVE ROOM FOR THE AUTHORS NAME AND TITLE! this is a requirement in book work, and something you need to plan your image around!

you have ONE MONTH to complete this! (which is plenty of time)…” 

I was intrigued with the idea, especially of coming up with something original.  I have not read the book or seen any of the movies but I’ve seen posters and images from both so I know some of the visual styles, etc. that have been used before.  I decided to sketch up a quick concept and decided to go with an underwater theme, just off the Cliffs of Dover (which is near where James lives with his two horrible aunts).

I know the general idea is that James takes off on a giant magical peach on adventures so I thought of the idea of him taking out a submarine version of this craft.  I’d like it to have a classic/retro feel to it but want to explore having elements from a much earlier time, almost medieval times.  The lighthouse would be more of a stone tower, the submarine would be made of heavy iron, etc.

Here’s my first concept sketch:

I want to include a homage to the illustrator of the original books, Nancy Ekholm Burkert so I was thinking of putting some paint on the sub with her initials.  For the skies I’d like to paint the typical grey clouded England sky, maybe a bird or two for depth and scale.

I threw down some super basic color chunks under my sketch to start getting some composition figured out before I get too far.  Here’s a quick go:

I will post more as I continue.  I have  a month to complete it but I’d love to hear some feedback or ideas from you guys.

Thanks for stopping by!


3 thoughts on “Book Illustration Challenge

  1. I like them. I’d only ever seen the Quentin Blake illustrations, but the originals look much better. There’s a European comics flavour to them too – like the work of Herge or Moebius. Good luck with it;)

  2. Reblogged this on exploringgreenland and commented:
    I love this idea. Especially for stories that people may have always had their own ideas on. I like the sub idea too it allows you o go with so many characters unilateral to the fish. Do you have the link for this?

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