Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Art in Fantasy Novels…Worth it or Not?

Let me tell you something about me…I am a very imaginative person who responds to imagery in a very emotional way. I see anything at all that is aesthetically pleasing to me and I go crazy! I recall reading Terry Brooks Shannara series back in the (mid 80’s?) day and thinking…”Man, I gotta’ find out who those guys are!”

So, when I went about writing my novel, Covenant of the Faceless Knights, I wanted to put some sketches in there too! I met a student @ the University of the Arts here in Philadelphia and after a brief chat, realized that I’d found an eager and willing participant to my project in the name of Justine Babcock. She happily showed me her portfolio and it blew me away! Her website and art can be seen HERE

We went to work coming up with a few cover concepts and when I gave her the initial ideas, she came back with phenomenal work. I then sent her an illustration that detailed the picture that I wanted (the only artwork below that is not hers!)

My Sketch
and she went to work painting it! Yes, I said painting…as in—hand-painted. I could see the brushstrokes when it was drying as she sent me a camera-phone picture. Needles to say, I was pretty excited. The dream was becoming reality!

I explained to her in writing what I wanted in the way of characters and descriptions as well as scenes in the book to show the readers in my novel and she delivered! Big-time! I could not be happier with the interior art and cover art that she provided me and think that the artwork adds something special to the novel and it is something that I am extremely proud when showing off to family and friends. It is cooler than words can describe to see someone’s interpretation of your character on a page in front of you. I feel that Justine really hit the mark with the impactful and dramatic art that I was looking to deliver to my audience and as you can see, she provided me with a great product to give to you—the reader! I hope you like the artwork as much as I do! (Samples below including the painting of the cover!)

Barguth on Worg, Elec Stormwhsiper, Garius Forge

Left: Initial Painting, still drying. Right: Finished Cover of Garius' Face

Question: Would you personally pay a bit more for a book specifically if it had drawings/sketches in it? Or would you rather pay less and have no artwork at all?
See you in Wothlondia! Cheers!

Please visit: www.ashenclaw.com to enjoy an extended reading experience, see direct links to purchase Covenant of the Faceless Knights and to see what else Ashenclaw Studios, LLC has in store in the future!

All maps, names and content copyright Ashenclaw Studios, LLC 2011 unless otherwise noted. 


  1. I think things like maps can be helpful in epic type things, but I wouldn't pay extra to read something with maps and/or illustrations. Most readers prefer to be able to visualize characters themselves anyway.

  2. Good points...I figured that people would have their own ideas about what characters looked like after reading the descriptions. I can tell you that Justine's drawings were similar to what I had in my head on some and completely different on others. All were very well done and captured the spirit of what I had in mind. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Great illustrations. Two thoughts here. A well written novel will bring the characters into three dimensions with words alone. Sometimes authors choose to have illustrations in their books which do enhance the story and the characters within.

    Fantasy art is a genre in itself Royo, Vallejo, The Hildebrant Brothers just to name a few. And some of their work has appeared in Fantasy Novels. Black and white illustrations are throughout the Narnia Books and they're beautiful. Would I pay more? Possibly yes but it depends on the quality of the writing of the book. Good illustrations with a badly written novel wouldn't sway me. Good novel, great illustrations definitely would be my scene. I do art myself so I appreciate others work.