Tomislav Tomic’s exquisite illustrations adorn The Folio Society’s beautiful Orange Fairy Book, published this month. Tomislav illustrated thirteen full-colour plates, the binding design, numerous black and white interiors and the endpapers for the final title in the Rainbow Fairy Book series. This is a beautifully produced volume on Caxton Wove paper that will make the perfect Christmas present for young and old readers alike as well as collectors of classic books.
Andrew Lang, who was primarily a scholar, anthropologist and folklorist, describes the diverse origins of these fairy tales, from many countries and in many languages – French, Italian, Spanish, Catalan, Gaelic, Icelandic, Cherokee, African, Indian, Australian, Slavonic and Eskimo.
With thanks to Sheri Gee at The Folio Society for allowing us to be part of such a prestigious publishing series.
Tomislav has this to say about the illustration process…
” Some books are easier to illustrate than other books and that was the case with Orange Fairy Book. I was very excited when this project started to happen, working on the book that reminds me of the books from the Golden Age of Illustration in Europe was like a dream coming true. Fairy tales are my favourite type of stories to illustrate because there it is allways easy to find some interesting scenes to draw.
When I read the stories I try to picture the scenes in my head. When a certain scene seems more interesting than other than I try to make a rough sketch of that idea. Very often it turns out that I pick scenes that are not really the most important scenes for telling the certain story, I prefer the visual effect that scene creates in my head. I am trying to be honest to myself about my illustrations and to find out what are my qualities and weaknesses. It is useful to hide my weak points and to bring out my best qualities and to make my illustrations look the best they can at the certain moment. Sometimes my choices turn out very well but not every time. But after discussing the scenes with the editor we usually meet somewhere half way and in the end everyone is happy. I could say that was also the case with the Orange Fairy Book. The good thing about stories from this book was that there were lot of interesting scenes to pick from and discuss about with the editor.
Next stage is creating more detailed pencil sketches of the scenes we agreed on. I find that stage the most creative part of the process and have most fun while doing it. If time allows I like to try different versions and views of the same scene before making the final version of a pencil sketch, I had the time to do that with most of the illustrations from this book. In other word I like to think twice about composition before choosing the final version of it.
After the pencil sketches are approved by the publisher I move to creating the final version of illustration for the book. Some pencil sketches are approved easily and some need litlle more tweaking and corrections before moving to final stage. First I make the ink drawing using waterproof ink so I could place the coloured ink washes over the line drawing later. If the illustration is going to be reproduced only in lines (black and white version) than I make the cross hatching thicker and use more lines in creating the tones and textures. If the colour washes are to be applied to create a full colour illustration than I avoid making too much lines in the drawing stage and try to leave enough room for the colours. I had to adjust my colour palette a little for this project because I usually need to make illustrations as much colorful as possible, but this time illustrations needed to be more sofisticated and to have the feel of the Golden Age illustrations. I must say I like the way illustrations turned out in the end, it was a kind of pleasant surprise to me.”
“The whole troop floated into the chamber of audience, where the queen, who was half a woman after all, was seated on a throne made of a green and blue shell”
“Right down the river-bed and up the river-bed, till they faded into the blue distance, stretched the giant’s grey moustaches!”
“Everybody looked up, and there was the crab-fairy, who had grown as tall as the ceiling in her anger”
“He heard a sound of whirring wings, and high up in the air a flock of swans were flying”