Thursday, June 22, 2017

Ranger in Time #6: Interior Illustrations

I drew 16 black-and-white illustrations for the interior of Ranger in Time: Escape from the Great Earthquake. As I said in my last blog post about the process of creating the cover, this was one of the most challenging assignments I'd ever received. Although every Ranger in Time book has lots of action and danger, this one, set during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, was packed with a lot of city scenes and crowd scenes - both particularly difficult to draw.

In the sketch above, the main characters are dragging a cart down Market Street. While I was attending the Academy of Art University I often walked down this street and sometimes rode the the ferry to Larkspur from this very pier building.

This was a challenging piece to do because of the perspective. First I downloaded a 3d model of the pier building in Google Sketchup and set it up at the perspective I wanted.

I cross-referenced the pier building with some pre-earthquake photos. Then, I looked at photos of the earthquake to inspire the buildings on the sides of the illustration and the crowd in the middle.

Here is the finished version:

And a closeup:

For other scenes, instead of using 3d models I took my own reference photos. In one chapter, the main characters have to pull a boy out from some wreckage. I took pictures of myself pretending to lift up my couch.

And....being stuck...I guess.

Next I looked at photographs of Chinese children from the turn of the century, taking note of their outfits, hairstyles and shoes.

Check out this kid:

Clearly he's one of the gold miners.

Ba dum ching!

Anyway here's the sketch:

Did you guys know I studied Chinese for a year in college? Well I did. It was very hard. One of the few things I can still say is "我不會說中文." However, I did get to use a little of that education in this scene by writing the words "rice" on the bag on the floor and "seasonings" on the shelf.

So...worth it, I guess?


I don't want to give away too much of the book, so if you want to see more, order a copy of Ranger in Time: Escape from the Great Earthquake, written by Kate Messner, available June 27! The paperback version is only $4!


  1. Hi Kelley, Thank you so much for writing this valuable article.

  2. Oh, wow Kelley! Astounding as always! I particularly like the one in the Market Street :)


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