Into the Clouds with Sophie Blackall

h1 October 18th, 2016 by jules

“‘We’ll see about that. …”
(Click to enlarge image)


I’ve got a review over at BookPage (here) of Matthew Olshan’s newest picture book, A Voyage in the Clouds: The (Mostly) True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785 (Margaret Ferguson Books/FSG, October 2016), illustrated by Sophie Blackall.

Sophie’s here today to share some reference images, early sketches, and final art. Here’s what she had to say about it:

I spent time in the V&A museum in London where they have all sorts of balloon paraphernalia. Balloon flight took the world by storm and influenced everything from cocktails to hats. There’s a drawing [below] I’ve included of a man and woman with balloon-inspired outfits. I’ve also thrown in a rather lewd cartoon from the time, which no doubt was funny in 1784, but in the light of Donald Trump seems sort of depressing. But it does show the illustration style of using speech balloons, which I borrowed throughout the book!

Sophie also shares below a sample painting for the next book she’s working on with Susan Rich at Little, Brown, called Hello, Lighthouse!



Pictured above: Reference images
(the first is Dr. Jeffries himself; the second is Monsieur Blanchard;
the fourth image is a scale; and the last image is the lewd cartoon)


Pictured above: Costume references
(Click last two to enlarge)


Opening spread (without text) and its sketch:
“‘Our big day at last!’ cried Dr. Jeffries, leaping from bed. …”

(Click each image to enlarge)


“Jeffries had taken careful notes the night before. …”
(Click to enlarge illustration)


“Soon it was time to lift off. …”
(Click to enlarge spread)


Early sketch and final art for the nap spread:
“After his meal, the Frenchman had a little nap. …”

(Click each to enlarge)


“Up they floated into the clouds. …”
(Click to enlarge spread)


(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


“‘When was the last time you had a pee?’ Blanchard shrugged.
‘I suppose every little bit helps.'”

(Click to enlarge spread)


Early sketch of touch-down spread
(Click to enlarge)


Case cover, cover wrap, and cover image
(Click first two images to enlarge)


A sample painting from Hello, Lighthouse!


* * * * * * *

A VOYAGE IN THE CLOUDS. Text © 2016 Matthew Olshan. Illustrations © 2016 Sophie Blackall. Published by Margaret Ferguson Books/Farrar Straus Giroux, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Sophie Blackall.

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