-book illustration-

One of my favorite scenes from The Lives of Christopher Chant is this quiet one, where Christopher plays on a beach with giggly mermaids nearby. It's a simple pleasure for a young boy to enjoy building sandcastles on the beach. The boy has no idea that his ability to travel to other worlds - which he calls "Anywheres" - requires an incredibly rare gift of magic. When others discover his unique ability, it garners the attention of both good and evil magic users and drastically changes the course of his formerly solitary.

"Mermaids" - Graphite pencil and digital.

"Mermaids" - Graphite pencil and digital.

Excerpt from The Lives of Christopher Chant, by Dianna Wynne Jones:

He went to the Anywhere with the silly ladies several times. It had blue sea and white sand, perfect for digging and building in. There were ordinary people in it, but Christopher only saw them in the distance. The silly ladies came and sat on rocks out of the sea and giggled at him while he made sand castles.

"Oh clistoffer!" they would coo, in lisping voices. "Tell uth what make you a clistoffer." And they would all burst into screams of high laughter.

They were the only ladies he had seen without clothes on. Their skins were greenish and so was their hair. He was fascinated by the way the ends of them were big silvery tails that could curl and flip almost like a fish could, and send powerful sprays of water over him from their big finned feet. He never could persuade them that he was not a strange animal called a clistoffer.



1 - Very loose sketch based on the quote from the book. I try to quickly sketch the scene as I see it played out in my mind, without worrying about composition or anything else yet.

2 - I drop a grid onto my sketch and start moving things around so that they will work properly in the composition.

3 - I do a loose outline on top of the sketch in Photoshop once everything is in its place. I'll print this out full-size, then use it as a template to transfer the composition onto my drawing paper.


4 - Once I have the loose outline on my drawing paper, I use Photoshop to quickly drop in tonal values as a general guide as I'm drawing. If it doesn't work well in monochrome, it won't work well in color, either!

5 - The entire drawing is done in pencil. I scan this drawing and put in layers of color with Photoshop.