Chapter Headings: An Illustrator’s Perspective by Sandra McGowan

Barbara and Sandra

You’ll all be familiar with our Picture Book Art: Meet The Illustrator series, which has been super popular since we launched it earlier this year. But, at My Book Corner we are continually curious, especially when it comes to illustration. Have you noticed the beautiful chapter headings in some books? Chapter headings are like an extra treat, providing an extra layer of meaning to the novel as a whole. Someone who does this brilliantly is Sandra McGowan, and with the latest – The Siege Of Caerlaverock about to appear on shelves, we sent a few questions her way…

How would you describe your style?

Usually it’s quite loose, energetic and rather messy. There is a lot of rubbing out before I’m happy with the end result. With these illustrations I had to work much tighter though.

How did you approach your illustrations for The Siege of Caerlaverock? What’s your process?

Firstly, I read the manuscript and identified a number of possible subjects. Barbara will also have ideas about what she feels would be good to illustrate. For example, she was very keen on an illustration of the ring being included, and she had a particular ring in mind. Once we have worked out which subjects to use, I usually do a very rough sketch to get an idea of how they will look before starting on the drawing. There’s a lot of collaboration with Barbara as I work on the images.


Did you encounter any particular challenges in the drawings?

I found drawing the knight quite challenging and spent ages fussing over him to get him right. This seems quite funny now that he is an inch and a half high.


Which of the drawings do you love best and why?

Of the original drawings my favourite was the skylark, but in print it has to be the ring.

ring1 bird

How do you feel about the final product? Are you pleased with it?

Yes, I’m very pleased with how they look. It is always interesting to see how the drawings change as they are scaled down.


You also illustrated Black Water by Barbara Henderson. Was this job harder or easier? How did it compare?

I found The Siege of Caerlaverock illustrations more difficult than those of Black Water. We chose more challenging subjects for this book, and the drawings are more detailed.

Thanks Sandra. You can follow Sandra’s work via her instagram account, and within this pages of this beautiful book, written by Barabara Henderson…

Read our review here. 

The Siege of Caerlaverock

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