Prior to making the illustrations, I had to arrive at my own versions of James, Spiker and Sponge and the Old Man.
Quentin Blake's timeless illustrations are fabulously individual, so it wasn't difficult to arrive at something different. The initial challenge, therefore, was to create my own versions of the characters, not least so I could put them into the appropriate sitiations for the illustrations, beginning with the Old Man.
Old Man - who provided James with the 'crocodile tongues' which lead to the adventure. The text is quite specific about his appearance - old, bald, bristley, wearing a suit and walking with a stick. My own addition to the outfit was the footwear - in honour of my first Art School tutor, Mr David Berry-Hart - a staunch wearer of sandals throughout the year!
I considered the posture to be an important element here, so, beginning with a thumbnail sketch and progressively detailed sketches, I explored his shape. The final drawing was transferred to Bristol Board where it was inked with traditional steel crow quill nibs and indian ink - with a dash of distilled water to delay 'gumming' of the nib.
A close-up of the drawing is included so you don't need to press your nose against your screen!
After a few days, I decided the old man needed reworking. So, I explored some options. These sketches were made in one session. It's interesting how, as I work, the drawings become progressively tighter (and better) as I edge toward the face that pleases me most.
To accompany the adjusted face, I'll give the hands some attention at the same time.