Saturday, June 16, 2012

Angelique Illustrators Tour: Interview and Giveaway

It is such an exciting time for books and the world of publishing. With the advent of epublishing, ereaders and tablets, making books interactive is now a reality. The tour we are hosting today--the Angelique Illustrator Tour--is proof of these changes. Angelique is a love story, a book with illustrations and music, which is an app for the iPad. Moving pictures, the option to read it or have it read to you, the Angelique app is amazing. We were recently able to interview the two illustrators, Cherif Fortin and Lynn Sanders. We hope you read about the processes involved with bringing Angelique to life and enter our giveaway at the end.

Blurb: Are you back, Angelique?” 

He waits in his library, alone, drawing back curtains on memories of love so many years lost. Reports of dead men, bloodless, all eerily similar, tell Vincent the tale. Stalking in shadows, she seeks him. 

Will she have him still? 

Told first in Helen A Rosburg’s poem “Angelique,” the story of Angelique and Vincent’s undying love now comes to resplendent life in this novelette illustrated by Cherif Fortin and Lynn Sanders and offered in animated-book format. With its beautiful prose and breathtaking images, this instant classic vampire story will haunt and delight readers for eternity.

Cherif Fortin (l) and Lynn Sanders
About the illustrators: Cherif Fortin is a freelance photographer, illustrator, and writer living in Chicago, Illinois. At one time he has worked as a professional stuntman, as a full-time firefighter, and as one of the country’s leading romance cover models. Cherif’s artwork has been featured on the covers of hundreds of books in dozens of countries, and on calendars and collectibles. He runs the successful Fortin & Sanders Studio along with partner, Lynn Sanders, producing commercial art and photography for leading clients internationally. He lives with his wife, Dawn, and their three children: Kira, Kai, and Lara. 
Cherif Fortin's website | Facebook

Lynn Sanders is an artist, photographer, and writer of romance fiction and children’s books. She is co-owner of Fortin & Sanders Studio, which produces cover art for some of the top publishers in the world. Her paintings have been exhibited at Epcot Center and are owned by private collectors such as Hugh Hefner and Fabio. She has three adult children, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. She lives in northern Illinois with Ce Ce, her faithful Cirneco dell Etna.
Lynn Sanders Facebook

An interview with the illustrators of Angelique:
Can you take us through the illustration process (for non-illustrators to understand) from when you receive the job to completion? What program(s) do you prefer for your medium? How long did the project take?

Cherif: In the case of Angelique, the publisher sent us an advance copy of Helen's manuscript, which Lynn and I both read. While we were reading, we each kept a visual diary of all the places where vivid images sprang to mind out of the text. After our separate readings, we compared notes and agreed on a common list of scenes that we thought would benefit from an illustration. From there we start developing our ideas for paintings by doing thumbnail sketches which, as the name implies, are very small and simple sketches. The purpose of thumbnails is to quickly and easily experiment with variations on the basics of an image: composition, movement, value, etc. We'll do as many thumbnails as it takes to get a basic layout for a finished painting that we think we think will work. From there we do a finished sketch, which is a larger and more detailed version of the thumbnail. In these sketches we play with pose, background, color, etc.

In the
 case of Angelique, many people had a say in the final images, so at this stage Lynn and I put together a collection of our finished concept sketches and submitted them to the publisher. They reviewed it and made suggestions, which we incorporated into the designs. From this point we hired models and rented costume for a photo shoot, the product of which gets used as reference for the paintings. Doing this helps us nail the realism required for our style of representational art. Also, it helps us keep our likenesses accurate from painting to painting. When the shoot is over, we get to work on the paintings, which can take days or weeks to complete depending on the difficulty. These days Lynn and I work mostly digitally on computers using Photoshop (and sometimes Painter). We got out start illustrating using oil paints, which we still use occasionally, though not on the illustrations for Angelique. The main part of the painting process took around 3-4 months.

Lynn: Our working process has evolved over the years. For example, when we put together Passion's Blood ( the first illustrated romance novel) the images developed individually in the beginning, with no overall plan for a book. After a few years, we had enough images laying around in a similar vein that I conceived of a story to link them all together. That's when we started work on the manuscript. Even while the manuscript was evolving, we were still adding more paintings to flesh out the story. When you think about it, this is a backwards way of doing a project. Passion's Blood took us 4 years to finish whereas Angelique only took about 4 months, so we've definitely learned a bit over the years! 

Angelique is gorgeous, your compositions vary from somber gray hues to sunny yellows. How did you go about choosing your color palette?

Cherif: We knew Angelique was being developed for the iPad, and we wanted to make the most out of the device's vivid display. We deliberately used a lot of very saturated colors in the palette to make use of the digital color space.

Lynn: We talked about some consistencies within the images, like the feeling of grey mist around her to reflect her torment. The warmth in some of the images, as in the laboratory painting, add to the time period. When they were young and happy we wanted the brighter colors. In Passion's Blood red and black was a theme. Playing with color is a lot of fun.

Were any illustrations particularly difficult to create?

Lynn: In Angelique, I think the most challenging was the painting of the main character getting out of the carriage. In Passion's Blood, it was the horses in the meadow. Both of them needed a lot of revisions to get the figures right.

Cherif: Each painting has its own challenges. Sometimes they come together easily, sometimes not, and sometimes you can see trouble coming, though occasionally the work will surprise you. At this point, the bumps in the road are part of the fun for me, and I really appreciate how the mistakes and difficulty can be the best teachers. Of course, when it's three a.m. and I'm struggling though my fourth revision because things are still not right, I may not be so forgiving about it!

I'm curious if illustrators put aside/toss artwork (like writers do with paragraphs/pages) when something isn't working?

Cherif: Absolutely! In fact, that is one of the strengths of painting digitally: it's so quick and easy to try out different iterations, and if you dont like the direction you're headed down, you can just revert back to a previous saved version and try something else. Back when we used oils, it wasn't that easy, and you had to be much more meticulous about planning your work. Nowadays, I am much more willing to go off on wild tangents when I'm painting, knowing full well that most of what I'm doing might not get used, or even seen. Once in a while, though, I create something completely unexpected, which is a great feeling.

Lynn: Yes, there are always second choices and out takes. There have been three versions of Passion's Blood published and you can see if you look at all three the many changes and additions. I think it is a study in evolution.

Who are some of your favorite illustrators? Why is their work appealing to you?

Lynn: I love the Pre-Raphelites. Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Lawrence Alma-tadema. Waterhouse. William Mortensen (gutsy illustrator hated by Ansel Adams). Luis Royo. Boris Vallejo and Frank Frazetta.

Cherif: My list would take up two pages on its own, but some of my biggest influences are John Singer Sargent, John William Waterhouse, Jean Leon Gerome, Rembrandt van Rijn, JC Leyendecker, NC Wyeth, etc. More contemporary artists that I admire include Jeffrey Catherine Jones, Frank Frazetta, David Palumbo, Donato Giancola, Dan Dos Santos, Michael Komarck, and Craig Mullins (to name a few). Besides the fact that each is a master of his or her craft, the appeal of these artists is that their images linger in my thoughts long after I view them.

The Angelique Illustrators Tour:

6/15  TBR
6/16  Reader Girls

6/18  My World

Reader Girls is offering one winner a copy of the Angelique app for the iPad. The winner will receive a code to download the app. This contest ends on June 22nd.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 comment:

  1. This book is amazing! The Illustrators did an incredible job.