• Karen Ruffles

Heading for the border

This month sees the launch of an exciting new chapter in the Tales in Sombre Tones story. I have finally started work on our second edition, which will feature some new illustrations for stories, plus page borders and drawings for the start and end of each chapter. Sean is expanding on some of the stories themselves - this is a luxury edition and as such, we can take as long as we need to complete it which is a joy in itself.



The additional illustrations for each chapter are unique to that story so there will be at least 24 in total. I'm not replacing all of the full page illustrations, just those where I felt I could do something very different given this extra time without touring deadlines to worry about. We selected two of those - To Catch a Kelpie and A Question of Evil to start with as we'll also be running a Kickstarter this spring with some limited edition prints.



Since the kelpie is a creature of Scottish legends, I felt it was appropriate to go with a traditional knotwork base for the border design. Because he's a water horse, I extended a simple square knot to a more wavelike form and opened the ends of the knots to create a rolling wave.



I didn't want a solid border with such a stylised pattern so I broke it up in the middle with a triskele, another traditional form, the triple spiral. There are many interpretations as to what it represents but common ones are the elements, motion, energy and so on - again well suited to our hoofed friend here. Additional visual elements included his bridle, represented by leather straps and buckles, water of course and water weeds, often a giveaway when caught in a kelpies mane. The next challenge was to arrange those so that the 'weight' of the line transitioned smoothly, giving a gradient.



Bridle, then water, then weed turned out to be the one and with a heart shaped corner representing the relationship between the main characters (getting a pattern round a corner is an absolute git btw), I was ready to rock and roll. I've broken out my new Legion paper and the first drawing of the new book is now underway. I'm sharing work in progress videos to my social media so make sure you're following for all the updates. I'll be back with the finished piece and news of what's next.



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