Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Great Horse 12 – Illustrating maps: Brian Sanders

They say a picture is worth a thousand words… and when you’re talking about maps, a picture can be worth a hundred thousand words! There is just one map in this book, but it tells you all you need to know about Bucephalas’ epic journey with Alexander. So this week the Muse is delighted to introduce talented artist Brian Sanders, who created the beautiful map you see at the front of “I am the Great Horse”.

Brian has been a professional artist for five decades, during which time he has worked in every area of the illustrative arts ranging through book publishing, magazines, newspapers, government agencies, film, television and art education. Although he loved to draw maps in his childhood, he has only recently been asked to produce them for books, and the commission for "I am the Great Horse” came from book designer Ian Butterworth, with whom Brian has worked over many years.

The project began with a rough sketch of the historical area supplied by Katherine, together with a draft of Bucephalas’ manuscript as a guide.


Brian then researched the historical details to embellish his version of the map before going to a pencil draft:


When this was completed, Chicken House sent Katherine a scan of the sketch with notes from Brian attached, so she could check it for accuracy before he began the finished art.

Ian Butterworth had also requested a border to the map, so for this Brian decided to continue the mosaic theme from his portrait of Alexander riding Bucephalas. This was the result:

The ground for the finished artwork is faux parchment used to simulate papyrus, and the medium is watercolour with body colour added for extra detail. Brian decided to use actual hoof prints and footprints to demonstrate the routes taken and, because there were so many of each, resorted to a more basic technology… he made potato cuts in the shape of hooves and sandals, dotted the routes in pencil, then printed directly over them. (Muse: Potato cuts are brilliant fun for making stencils… have you ever tried making any yourself?)

The full colour map was originally going to be a fabulous double-page spread in the first UK edition of the book. But in the end it had to be turned sideways and reproduced on the inside front cover to conform to the more traditional paperback format preferred by the main UK booksellers. The Muse still thinks it looks fabulous, and younger readers with sharp eyes should have no trouble counting every single hoof print, though older ones like Katherine might need a magnifying glass to see all the details.

Here is the digitally enhanced version used in the actual book:


In the US hardcover edition, the same map is reproduced in black and white so it could be spread over a double page, which makes it easier to read if not quite so pretty. We are still waiting to see what will happen for the US paperback. (Muse: it never happened!)

Brian Sanders has had a long and interesting career as an artist. During the 1960’s, his work was used in the earliest newspaper colour supplements, leading to Stanley Kubrick employing him to record on set the making of “2001 a Space Odyssey”. (Muse: WOW!)
Following this, he worked with formats ranging from large-scale posters and military paintings to postage stamps, of which he has designed over fifty sets world-wide, including “A History of WW2 in Postage Stamps”. He has also designed a series of forty coins titled: “Historic Fighting Ships”.
He has exhibited widely with one man shows at The Imperial War Museum, York Castle Museum, The Association of Illustrators Gallery, National Trust of Cornwall Trelissic Gallery, and The Sir Rowland Hill Museum. There are permanent exhibitions of his work at the The Unicover Postal Museum in Wyoming USA, and his Royal Mail stamp art is in The British Postal Museum and Archive.
His painting of Her Majesty The Queen presenting Standards to the Royal Tank Regiment is in the collection of the RTR Museum (Muse: WOW again! Bucephalas is very lucky to have his map drawn by someone who has painted a portrait of the Queen of England!)

In partnership with Lizzie Sanders his wife, Brian has jointly produced many 3D paper works, including an Edwardian dolls’ house and an accurately detailed model of Stonehenge. Brian also did the artwork for a large-scale pop-up model and other illustrations for a book about the doomed ship Titanic.
More details on the Sanders website.

Brian also writes and illustrates his own books – his most recently published book is: “Evacuee a Wartime Childhood”, the first of a graphic trilogy.

The Muse sends a bucket of unicorn glitter to Brian for contributing his beautiful maps to this blog! Please leave him a comment below.

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