This Folio Life: Illustrating The Mark of the Horse Lord

When commissioning binding designs, we often ask our illustrators to produce an image that we can block or screen print in two or more colours onto cloth. For artwork to be suitable for blocking or screen printing it needs to be completely black, with defined lines and solid areas, with no grey scale, and no soft edges at all. Not all of our illustrators work in this style in their usual portfolio, so turning their hand to the cover art can be quite a challenge. But despite the fact that we often ask our illustrators to effectively change their style when working on a binding design, they do a tremendous job.

The Mark of the Horse Lord illustrator Felix Miall’s usual style is pen and ink, with strong lights and darks that leant itself perfectly to the challenge that a blocked binding presents. When thinking about the design, we decided to keep the spine text in series with our previous Rosemary Sutcliff editions, and asked Felix to keep this in mind as he planned his composition.

Some illustrators come up with numerous ideas, presenting them as quick thumbnail sketches before we ask them to develop one into a tighter level of rough. We rarely prescribe what we’d like to see on the cover – we like to be caught up in an illustrator’s imagination and inspiration.

Felix presented us with essentially one idea, of the Horse Lord, or Phaedrus, riding across the binding. We were all gripped, even at rough stage. From black-and-white sketches through to rough colour sketch and then a tighter piece, we watched, delighted, as the Horse Lord emerged in all his vigour.

Initial sketches for The Mark of the Horse Lord

First binding draft for The Mark of the Horse Lord

Second binding draft for The Mark of the Horse Lord
Final binding design for The Mark of the Horse Lord

Final binding for The Mark of the Horse Lord

Find out more about the Folio edition of The Mark of the Horse Lord.

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