Off the Page: Annalise Jensen

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Here’s your chance to get behind the scenes with fanartists who bring your favorite young adult books to life.

Annalise Jensen is a student at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia where she studies to learn animation and film.

“I draw in my free time and read almost as much,” said Jensen. “I love reading High fantasy and Urban Fantasy with a few of my favourite books being Graceling by Kristin Cashore, The Raven Cycle [series]by Maggie Stiefvater, The Poison study series by Maria Snyder, and anything written by Holly Black.”

  • Violetta and Adelina from Marie Lu's The Young Elites.

What is it about the authors’ writing that inspired your art?
I love being able to pick up a book and read something that is so different from everyday life. Just escapism really; the ability authors have in submerging people into whole new worlds and environments. I love reading and feeling for the characters as they’re pushed into difficult situations and relationships, how they think and feel, the problems they face, the decisions they have to make. When authors create such complex and intriguing characters it really makes me sympathise with them and want to draw and explore them further as characters. Character design has and will always be a favourite thing of mine; I love trying to create an image that connects a physical image to how I perceive them in my head. One of my main aims is to try and showcase their personality in their design. I always challenge myself to draw different types of representations in my designs so it’s great to read books that have a vast range of representation when it comes to race, sexuality and gender.

Are there any other influences you included in your art?
As I said, I’m a huge sucker for character design, but I also have a big passion for clothing and costume design. I love watching films, and I often get so distracted by the clothing that I sometimes miss the plot. It’s such an important factor of world building, its adds so much depth to the story and portrayal of characters. Though that said, you can’t rely on costumes alone to make a good film *cough* *cough* snow white and the huntsman *cough*.

What was the best reaction you’ve received?
Hmmmmm, probably whenever an author reblogs my artwork. I think the first time was when Holly Black reblogged a picture I drew of Kaye from Tithe. It’s such a big praise! I mean, drawing fanart from a book, you do it because you like the book and the characters, and then to have the author reblog it, gosh, it’s like getting their approval; they like your portrayal of their own characters and they’re reblogging it to show everyone else that. I also love when people show me they’ve made my art their phone wallpaper or something, like, they like my art enough to be on their phone screen, I just think that’s really nice.

What’s your process?
I am originally a traditional artist, [meaning]traditional mediums such as pencil and paint, so I generally draw a traditional lineart to begin a drawing. I would probably be more inclined to draw digital lineart if I had pen pressure on my tablet, but alas I do not, so I just make do. I then scan my drawing and open on a drawing program such as Photoshop or Firealpaca; both are just as good for my drawing methods. I duplicate the lineart layer and set one to multiply and the other to burn. I colour on various layers under the lineart layers and once Im happy with the flat colour I create a new layer on top of all my other layers and draw over any mistakes. My process varies depending on the work.

Do you have any tools you like to work with?
I love drawing with HB pencils, but a lot of the time I doodle or sketch in pen if it’s just a drawing for fun. I have so many notebooks where I jot down story ideas, and they all have pen drawings in the margin or sketching out scene or character ideas. I use a Wacom Bamboo tablet for my digital work.

What encouraged you to share your fanart?
Hahaha, gosh, that takes me back to my early Deviantart days. I started out on the internet with my art when I was 12 and in love with Vampire Academy. I mean that’s nearly 7 years ago, and I’m still friends with a few of the nice people from back then, such as Andi (also know as Andiree). I really loved being able to put my art out on the internet and get feedback from other artists! It was such an overwhelming feeling, meeting other people whom also liked the same things and loved drawing as much as I did. Having sites like Deviantart and Tumblr is great because they’re not only ways for artists to showcase their work, but also platforms in which they can receive feedback and tips for improving. Drawing and sharing fanart of something you love just makes it all the more enjoyable.

What piece are you most proud of?
I want to say my Heir of Fire piece, but I’m going to have to say my image of Cinder in her workspace. I have always found backgrounds and environments difficult to draw, especially when considering colour palette and composition. I look at this drawing and find mistakes and things I would fix up, but I can’t help but be proud of it. The colour and lighting, the composition, all the objects and details, they harmonise really nicely. I also can’t get over how that robot head in the bottom left corner looks, the was I coloured it was such a fluke but it looks really good? This drawing really encourages me to draw more background pieces.

Do you have anything fun that you’re working on or would like to do someday?
I am currently working on a few story ideas for comics and also on my comics for a group collaboration called Teenage Terrors. My degree I’m doing at the moment includes animation and film, and working in Animation would have to be my dream job at the moment [with]Character design [as]my main goal. I would also love to illustrate books and/or design book covers one day.

What kind of advice or insight would you give to other artists?
Practice, practice, practice!!! You like drawing people? Find photos and images of people and copy them! Research eyes and mouths and noses and anaylse them! Do life drawing classes, take pictures of yourself in poses and draw them. Research other artists, and I don’t mean tumblr artists, look up famous artists in lots of different art movements and styles! Create small challenges for yourself daily like; self portrait, 5 minute drawing, background study, animal study, perspective etc. Draw something everyday even if it’s just a sketch.

For more, follow Annalise Jensen on Tumblr, Instagram or deviantArt.

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About Author

Nicole Brinkley

Nicole is the editor of YA Interrobang. She has short hair and loves dragons. The rest changes without notice. Follow her on Twitter at @nebrinkley or Tumblr at nebrinkley. Like her work? Leave her a tip.