I recently unveiled the gorgeous new maps for The Fey Man, drawn by artist Howard Coates. Here a few words from the man himself about the process of creating those maps.
I grew up loving fantasy worlds such as Discworld and The Lord of the Rings. Whilst reading I would often pore over the maps they had created, firmly believing that having a decent overworld to refer to enriched the text no end. In more recent times I have been taken by the fantasy worlds in video games such as Skyrim and Dragon Age, where the interactive maps are as much functional as they are visually arresting. I drew upon these varied past experiences as guidance and sometimes confirmation of the success of my ideas.
Howard and I both wanted to take all the best aspects of the maps we loved to create something special for The Fey Man. Howard stayed faithful to my original maps but the care he took over every detail was incredible.
The process was an iterative one, with lots of feedback from James along the way. I was very committed to getting all the details right, even down to the shapes of rocks and types of trees. Whenever I work with a fellow creative I want to make them feel as involved as possible as it is their creation after all!
The technical aspects of the job were fairly basic, I wanted it to have a homemade look so relied on Photoshop only for compiling and tweaking the sketches. Every line was hand rendered and I feel that captures the charm of the world somewhat. I reflected upon aspects of the story; Katharine has maps that are very precious to her and I wanted to make these feel like they might be the sort of maps she would want to possess. I also tried to place a few story elements within the landscape; I hope the inclusions will be spotted and appreciated by people who have read the book. My mantra was ‘the more you look, the more you see’!
This was my favourite thing about these maps. I created the world, and yet I can spend ages poring over Howard’s work and picking out details I hadn’t seen before. In fact at times I had to nix a detail or two for fear of spoilers! But there are still plenty of surprises to be found in there.
You can reach Howard on Twitter at @HowardDoesArt.