Here’s your chance to get behind the scenes with fanartists who bring your favorite young adult books to life.
Ellie Owen is a 21-year-old History student at the University of York, “which has only driven [her]slightly mad.” She enjoys playing video games, running tabletop RPGs, and engaging in incredibly nerdy debates about Marvel movies – when she’s not reading YA and drawing YA fanart, that is.
“I’m a big fan of YA sci-fi and fantasy, and my favorites at the moment are the Lunar Chronicles, [the]Throne of Glass [series]and the Grisha trilogy,” said Owen.
What is it about the authors’ writing that inspired your art?
A lot of these authors write incredibly evocatively, and I can see their worlds and characters so vividly while I’m reading. These books look so amazing in my head, I just have to try drawing them to try and capture some of that. If there’s a particular scene or description that sticks in my head, it’ll stay there for days before I finally cave and start drawing it. When I really love a character or book, I feel that drawing is the best thing I can do to show that.
Are there any other influences you included in your art?
I was a huge anime fan in my early teens – that was what got me drawing in the first place, and is still a pretty obvious influence on my art, even though it’s got a bit more realistic recently. I’ve started to really love looking at concept art for video games and film, as well as historical costuming, which has shaped how I approach costume design. I try to make character designs that look like they could actually exist, which is always a fun challenge when I’m dealing with ridiculous fantasy stuff.
I love seeing the work of other artists, both inside and outside of fandom, and so many of them have inspired me as well.
What was the best reaction you’ve received?
Any reaction I have is amazing, to be honest. I’m still really surprised when people like my art and leave nice comments about it; literally every nice response I get makes my day! I’m stunned whenever an author sees my art and comments on it – it’s so incredibly flattering to know that the original creator likes my version of their characters!
What’s your process?
Long and overly-complicated. I have like the least streamlined process in the world. I work entirely digitally, using Paint Tool SAI for character art and Photoshop for backgrounds. I tend to draw either thumbnails or super quick sketches to get the general idea of what I’m going for with a picture, then find tons of reference and do a rough sketch, then refine the sketch, then ink it, then colour it, flitting between SAI and Photoshop depending on what I’m colouring. It’s rare that I’ll spend less than a few hours on a picture, and I wish I could relax and sketch more.
Do you have any tools you like to work with?
I use a Wacom Bamboo tablet and Paint Tool SAI mostly. Discovering SAI redefined how I draw digitally, it’s basically the nicest thing to sketch and paint in ever.
What piece are you most proud of?
I’m super proud of my set of Grisha portraits, mostly because I finished them. I always start doing sets of pictures with the best of intentions, finish one or two and then get distracted by some other project. But I got all four of these done! Also, I really like the character designs I did for them – they were a real challenge in costume and detail, and I like to think I pulled it off. The clothes in those books are always so beautifully described.
Do you have anything fun that you’re working on or would like to do someday?
I’m an aspiring writer as well as an artist, and hopefully one of the various writing projects I’m working on will manifest as an actual finished novel one day. I’d also love to do art for video games, and have worked on a short visual novel with friends, which was great fun to create. We’ve got some more ambitious projects planned, and I can’t wait to get to work on that.
What encouraged you to share your fanart?
The wonderful communities that spring up around fandom – other artists and fans have been super supportive, and their feedback is what encourages me to carry on drawing and sharing my work.
What kind of advice or insight would you give to other artists?
Learn to draw from life, or from photos at least. I know that’s really typical advice, and I can remember being thirteen and thinking that it was nonsense because all I wanted to draw was anime, but seriously, draw from life. Learning to draw manga, mostly from tutorials, really crippled me artistically in the long run, and I’ve spent the last few years trying to unlearn all of that. Learn to draw first, then learn to stylise. It’s something I’m still struggling with.
For more on Ellie Owen, visit her Tumblr.