Posts filed under ‘Sabriel’

Where’s Sabriel??

Welp, I don’t have a new Sabriel piece to show today…I sincerely apologize, I was hoping to keep a better handle on the schedule. Unfortunately this month has been a bit of a rollercoaster, work-wise, health-wise, and inspiration-wise. I’ve been burnt out, but am in the process of regaining my strength and preparing for some teaching and illustrating again! Thanks for your patience everyone, I can’t wait to see all of next month’s pieces!



June 25, 2010 at 5:00 pm 2 comments

Abhorsen’s House

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

Oh boy guys, it was so hard to choose what to draw this month! Sabriel has a harrowing encounter with a Mordicant, she finally makes it to Abhorsen’s house (her childhood home), AND meets her sardonic traveling companion and friend/foe, Mogget the cat (who isn’t really a cat after all). I did a lot of preliminary work and made several starts on different scenes which are chronicled on my blog. In the end however, I went with a spot sort of illustration of the entrance to Abhorsen’s House, complete with Mogget at the door. I’ve been drawing a lot of dark stuff for this book, and I wanted to do something a little brighter and lighter.

Abhorsen’s house is located on a tiny island in the center of a river at the very lip of a waterfall (fast water is an excellent defense against the dead!). It has tall whitewashed stone walls surrounding it, and the house itself is also white with a cheerful sky blue door and a red brick path leading up to it. With all the white in it, I thought I’d try sort of a spot style incorporating the white space of the page, but I ended up getting into some of the details. I think it turned out as a cross between a spot and a full page? Lemme know what you think!

Check out for more info and pictures about this latest adventure!

May 28, 2010 at 12:42 pm 5 comments

There had been too much death on this hill.

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

“Thralk had been pleased to find the Charter Mage’s spirit wandering and a broken diamond of protection. The sword had worried him a little, but it was frosted over and his shriveled eyes couldn’t see the Charter marks that danced beneath the rime. Similarly, the bell in Sabriel’s left hand looked like a lump of ice or snow, as if she’d caught a snowball. All in all, Thralk felt very fortunate, particularly as the life that blazed within this still victim was particularly young and strong.”

Sabriel ventures into the Old Kingdom to figure out the fate of her father and find some end to the influx of undead. I wanted to do a scene on Cloven Crest–the site of Sabriel’s first encounter with an undead being and a glimpse at the dangers of the Old Kingdom. It’s a moment that shows both her inexperience and her power, and it’s exciting to see her deal with the challenge.

The bell bandolier might look strange, but the bells and the sword were passed on to her from her father (along with her oversize coat!). Bells are the weapons of the Abhorsen (and necromancers) –each of the bells has particular powers that relate to the dead and must be rung in specific ways. The blade is also specially spelled to aid the Abhorsen against dead creatures. Sabriel is able to dispose of Thralk, but the situation escalates quickly from there!

I started out with the sketches I did last month which incorporated the actual broken charter stone that gives Cloven Crest its name, but they just felt too stiff and disconnected. I’ve been thinking about silhouette and N.C. Wyeth, and you can probably see the connection to that in this piece. 🙂 I’ve also been having a lot of fun with textures and layer modes and ended up doing a little more digital painting in this one than my usual flat colors.

You can check out my process post and some closeups at!

April 30, 2010 at 3:55 pm 6 comments

Continuing the Journey

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

My apologies, dear readers. As they say–when it rains it pours! In terms of work, this has been a pretty wet month for me. Although that’s been great for my freelancing, it also means that Sabriel had to be put on the backburner… After seeing all the great work that’s been put up in Round Two I am disappointed I can’t close the month with something better to show! This delay has been doubly disappointing because I got a lovely email from Garth Nix himself and I can’t wait to jump back into this world again.

Above I have a selection of illustration and spot ideas I’ve been playing with….Clockwise from the top left we have an idea for Sabriel at Cloven Crest, and again on the top right, then Sabriel walking through the snow after she passes through the wall (showing the seasonal discrepancies on either side), and finally the Abhorsen rescuing Sabriel in death when she was just a newborn.

Most likely my next illustration will be Sabriel at Cloven Crest…I always get such a vivid image of that scene and will have something cool to show for it in April (when we get to see another 15 sweet illustrations, headed off by Meg Hunt on April 5!)

March 26, 2010 at 9:27 am 1 comment

An Unexpected Visitor

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!)

February 26, 2010 at 11:17 am 6 comments

Kali Ciesemier v. Sabriel

illustrated by Kali Ciesemier

  • Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Kali Ciesemier, and I am pleased to be part of the Baltimorean group making an appearance in this project! I graduated from The Maryland Institute College of Art in ’08, and now I’m lucky enough to be working as a freelance illustrator and teaching part time at MICA. Vintage posters and art deco design are enormously inspiring to me, and as a result I tend to work a lot with flat color and line. I’ve always been a big sci-fi/fantasy reader and I’m excited to indulge some of my nerdier tendencies for this project!

  • Why did you pick the story you chose?

Sabriel is a young adult fantasy story, which is an entire genre I never get a chance to work with in my editorial assignments. There isn’t a whole lot of art that has been created for the book series, besides the lovely covers by Leo and Diane Dillon, so I’m looking forward to working without much preconceived imagery. It’s got a strong heroine, secret places, undead creatures, mysterious/scary happenings, and half the world is in a vaguely 1930-ish era while the other half is medieval-ish but with MAGIC. I first read “Sabriel” when I was younger, but I keep returning to it because the world is so unique, interesting, and rich.

So doesn’t this look like it’s a book already on the shelves? Kali is thoroughly inspiring and she’s a real gem to be participating! Her first illustration for Sabriel will be up on February 26, but if you can’t wait til then you can always check out her stunning portfolio and her blog as well.

Whew! What a week, right? Just you wait to see what we’ve got cooked up for you next week. Have a lovely weekend and stay tuned on Monday for a couple of posts from me and my first Alice illustration!

February 5, 2010 at 10:13 am 7 comments


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