Brandon’s art director Isaac here with some insights on the art process for Oathbringer. We add a lot of illustrations to most of Brandon’s books, but the Stormlight Archive gets a special amount of attention. We fill each volume with sketches from Shallan and Navani, maps of cities and other locations, chapter arches and icons, color endpapers, and all sorts of in-world ephemera. As with other volumes, we hope you enjoy the extra work we put into this book in the series.
For Part 1 of this roundup, let’s talk a bit about the full-color art. While I work as Brandon’s personal art director, the amazing art directors at Tor—Irene Gallo and Seth Lerner—do an excellent job commissioning art for the covers of Brandon’s books. No discussion of the color art is complete without mentioning the fantastic job Michael Whelan did working with Tor on the cover for this book. Tor.com detailed the process here.
For a couple years now, Brandon has been talking about commissioning illustrations of the Heralds, meant to be in-world artifacts. For this book, we finally got to do just that. Dan dos Santos and Howard Lyon worked with us to create the front and back endpapers, and the results are fantastic.
There’s already been a lot of hype about these pieces online, and Howard will be posting process videos at some point, so there’s not much I can say about these that hasn’t already been said. Suffice it to say that both Dan and Howard are professionals to the core, and working with them was a great experience. Their thumbnail drawings were spot-on and approved with minimal amount of changes, and the end results are striking. Thanks to both of them for their attention to detail in illustrating the world of Roshar.
Speaking of the endpapers, here’s a side note from Brandon: “Some people found the Shalash painting to be a little too risque for their tastes, so at our request, Dan put together a slightly more opaque version for those who would rather have it for desktop wallpapers. We ended up really liking this one, so it will be the one on my website. But if you prefer the original, you can still find it in this post at Tor.com.”
As another note, prints of Howard’s Jezrien and Vedeledev paintings are available on his website. He also went into a bit more detail on the Muddy Colors blog. Dan will also be offering prints of his Heralds paintings and hopes to have them available in time for the holidays.
Many of you have already noticed this, but for Oathbringer we moved the color map from the back endpaper to the opposite side of the dust jacket. (The final version can be found here.) We first tested this out with the reissues of the Alcatraz books, and it worked so well that Tor was gracious enough to let us carry this over to the Stormlight books.
Because I’m still relatively new to painting in oils, my good friend Howard Lyon offered his expertise. So, for over a week, I worked out of his studio so he could look over my shoulder and make some suggestions. (You’ll see some of Howard’s amazing art hanging on the walls in the video below.) The map got as far as it did in part because of his great direction. I found the whole process of mixing paint, matching colors, and applying it to the canvas extremely satisfying, and I can’t wait to get back to painting at some point. Take a look at the time-lapse video below, please ignore that I look like I’m rocking out, and have fun trying to figure out what show I binge watched on my iPad as I painted.
At the beginning of the video, you’ll notice that the canvas isn’t blank at all. There are a few early steps I was unable to capture a time-lapse for. I transferred my digital version of Roshar to the canvas using a printout and tracing paper; after that, I created an underpainting in acrylics to help get a rough idea of what colors I wanted in the right spots. Then I set to work on the oils.
Where’s part two of the video? Well, that’s forthcoming. See, as with the Alcatraz map, I had the chance to paint Roshar in acrylics and oils. And also as with the Alcatraz map, I didn’t finish the physical art in time and had to finish everything up digitally. We’ll eventually create a new art print for this one, but in the meantime, the Roshar map from Words of Radiance is still available.
Next week I’ll go into more detail concerning the new interior art we produced for the book.