Today’s sketch is a scene from my 1999 novel Stone & Sky. It shows the moment where, having survived both the eruption of Krakatoa and his unexpected relocation to a strange and inexplicably vertiginous alien world, Victorian explorer Jonah Lightfoot finds that his new companion Annie West is not all she seems. If the drawing isn’t enough for you, here’s the scene on which it’s based.
I’ve always enjoyed drawing the weird realm of Stone. The entire world is one gigantic wall, which poses a few challenges when you’re trying to compose an image. Perhaps that’s why this illustration is very similar in composition to the UK paperback cover, painted by Les Edwards based on a sketch of mine. It’s an easy win really – just a simple one-point perspective that relies on the 10° angle of Stone’s world-wall to create the necessary otherworldly feel. Next time, I’ll attempt the more difficult task of looking up or down the wall, as well as along it.
The figures are rudimentary – and not quite accurate to the text. They should be naked, for one thing. But with only a couple of hours to spare on a Sunday afternoon, I wasn’t about to audition models prepared to strip off and pose for me in my living room. Maybe next time …
Here’s a timelapse video of the drawing from start to finish. It took around an hour to complete, using a regular ballpoint pen – plus a dab or two of white paint at the end.