Monday, September 22, 2014

Personal Work: The Lost Princess

As Princess Rosamond grew up, everybody about her did his best to convince her that she was Somebody; and the girl herself was so easily persuaded of it that she quite forgot that anybody had ever told her so, and took it for a fundamental, innate, primary, first-born, self-evident, necessary, and incontrovertible idea and principle that SHE WAS SOMEBODY.
Recently I was commissioned to draw some super, super girly book covers. I can't post them online yet, but trust me: there were sparkles, there were magic rainbows, there were tiny glowing fairies, and it was fun. Since then I've wanted to draw something girly, but I wasn't sure what to draw.

Something brought back the memory of a favorite childhood book: "The Lost Princess" by George MacDonald. Published in 1875, it seems to have been mostly forgotten by the modern world. In the book, Princess Rosamond is a horribly spoiled brat. She is kidnapped by a wise old woman, who tries to do the princess a favor by teaching her humility, gentleness, and empathy. She uses magical tests and trials, and an intelligent sheepdog named Prince, but it's not easy to reach someone's heart.

The story is actually a profound spiritual allegory about the nature of sin and repentance. I regret that my illustration fails to reflect this whole aspect of the book - I was just really excited to draw a pouting, sullen princess.

My thumbnail was pretty bare. I designed this as a wraparound book cover, just to make things harder on myself, I don't know.

As you can see from this process gif, I sort of made this up as I went along.

I tried to make the princess's dress pretty over-the-top, to emphasize her pampered lifestyle, to contrast her with the solid grey of the old woman, and to make her look out-of-place in the natural surroundings. The ruffled collar might be my favorite part of this drawing.

I used Kyler Webster's gouache brushes on this piece. Sometimes they're difficult to use on tight details, but I like the brushy texture they add.

This is how I imagine the front cover would look:


  1. The lost princess is a favorite of mine from George macdonald. So many rich visuals and the moral very endearing. You really did the characters and scenery justice. I would be interested to see what the whole story might look like in your style...haha ^_^

    I actually first fell in love with this story through an illustrated retelling by Karen Mezek (now Karen Mezek Leimert). The book is completely out of print, but if you can find it (maybe at a library) it is worth looking into!

    Here's a picture of the cover:

    1. Thanks Mike! I also had an illustrated, out-of-print edition of the book. It was a different version than yours, though.

  2. George MacDonald is my FAVORITE author, but I haven't read this yet. What is wrong with me?

    When I first glanced at this, the white outline around the princess made her look like a sticker that had been stuck on a lovely pastel landscape, especially since her bright colors are such a contrast to the rest of the picture. Other than that, this is amazaing, as usual, and makes me want to read the book!

    Love, MOMO

    1. Mom, how can you not have read the book? You bought it! You might be able to find it around the house somewhere, it's a large hardback that looks like this:

  3. Another splendid work! I like the effect of the wind on all the various elements, and especially the way the dense grass envelops the character. The gray robed old lady is a great contrast to all the color. You really nailed the expression too.

  4. Having just finished reading the book - I think you've captured the "moodiness" quite well!

  5. I have read the book twice and when looking for images that seem to capture the essence of the written words yours stood out. Great work!

  6. I would love to feature this on!

  7. Thank you for pursuing your love for art. Your visuals have enriched my day.


Thanks for leaving a comment! I read each and every one!

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