Mr. Matthew Cruickshank, the illustrator of Treasure Island, was nice enough to answer a few questions about his process for me. You can check out more of his artwork on his blog, Ye Crooked Legge.
What was your process when designing TI?
The process was the same as working on any design, print or story project. Small thumbnail sketches first to look for an interesting composition, then fleshing a few out to show colour before working up the final image. Sometimes the roughs are completely discarded, but it’s still important to have thought about the different ways the design could’ve been staged.
What was your biggest challenge when designing a book that is so well known?
Hoping to do it justice! It’s a classic story which still holds up incredibly today. There’s no loose fat on the plot and Stevenson always takes the reader straight to the meaty moments. I hope my illustrations enhance those situations.
Did you take the illustrations of NC Wyeth into account when planning?
It wasn’t just Wyeth. There’s Peake and Steadman too. All big hitters! It’s daunting to enter the fray with them, but as an artist you have to enjoy the process as much as possible and not get too freaked out by the end product.
What was your favourite illustration you designed in TI and why?
Any of the night time scenes. They’re illuminated by the moon yet I wanted them to feel like woodcuts too. So you have this interesting balance of atmosphere, composition and abstraction.
Was there something you wish you could have illustrated that you didn’t have time to do?
Reading the book again you could make a thousand illustrations, it really is that rich. All the characters could be explored much more as well as the environments. Are you asking me to do more work?!