An Unexpected Visitor

February 26, 2010 at 11:17 am 6 comments

Posted by: Kali Ciesemier
Book: Sabriel
(purchase on Amazon)

On these nights, Sabriel would lock herself into her study (a privilege of the Sixth Form–previously she’d had to sneak into the library), put the kettle on the fire, drink tea and read a book until the characteristic wind rose up, extinguished the fire, put out the electric light and rattled the shutters–all necessary preparations, it seemed, for her father’s phosphorescent sending to appear in the spare armchair.

My first illustration deals with Sabriel while she is still in Ancelstierre– an indeterminately located country that seems to be set in an early 1920’s time period with a vaguely british atmosphere.

I wanted to show Sabriel in her Ancelstierran school surroundings before grim and mysterious happenings force her to venture over the Wall into the Old Kingdom (a vaguely medieval place, where the seasons run slightly differently and magic is afoot). This is the moment when things start to go wrong: her father does not show up, and a terrified knocking on the door startles her and alerts her to a strange occurance.

There’s so much story to this book, I was really hoping to have a spot or two done in addition to this illustration! Alas, time was not on my side! I’m thinking I’d like to do spots in the future though, in the same flat & limited color style as my bookplate. I ended up exploring a slightly more textured and rendered style for the main illustration, so we’ll see where it goes!

I have been/will be posting parts of my preliminary process with these images…feel free to take a look!

(and Sabriel, of course, is (c) Garth Nix. I don’t want to step on any toes!)

Entry filed under: Sabriel. Tags: , .

She planned very carefully. Alice part two: the return of the White Rabbit.

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. spoffy  |  February 26, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    This is one of my favorite books (the Tim Curry audio version is aces!) and your illustration totally captures its eerie beginning. Can’t wait for that first glimpse of Mogget!:)

  • 2. Nancy Muller  |  February 26, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    This is perfect, Kali. I love all the details, the photographs, the skull, the furniture. And Sabriel is exactly how I imagined her. I like how you chose to focus on her in this particular moment, rather that what is alerting her, to remind us what kind of life is being disrupted. I don’t know what else to say other than that I love it and I agree– I can’t wait to see Mogget, and Touchstone, and perhaps to get a glimpse into your idea of Death.

  • 3. eric orchard  |  February 26, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Wow! Really wonderful. She’s perfect, better then I imagined while reading.

  • 4. Jan  |  February 26, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    I’ve always wanted to read this book and I have a feeling these illos will finally convince me to.

  • 5. tanaudel  |  March 1, 2010 at 12:10 am

    Achingly beautiful – it’s been far too long since I’ve read these books (dim memories of bells and dark water).

  • 6. Little bits left over at the end of the week | Tanaudel  |  January 29, 2016 at 3:46 am

    […] recognise some of the names involved! This was where I fell in love with Kali Ciesemier’s vision of Garth Nix’s Sabriel and with Sam Bosma’s art for The Hobbit, and one of the earliest examples that really had […]


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