IMPYRIUM Fantasy Blog Tour

Welcome to Day #10 of the Impyrium Blog Tour!
To celebrate the release of Imyprium by Henry H. Neff (10/4/16), blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from Henry and 10 chances to win a SIGNED copy of Impyrium, as well as a Grand Prize Giveaway!
Painting in Pencil, Pixels, and Ink: Author as Artist by Henry H. Neff
As the author of two fantasy series, it’s safe to say that I love writing and weaving together storylines and characters. But when I reach the end of a hefty manuscript like IMPYRIUM, I’m ready for a break from the intense focus that writing requires. I’m ready to use some different muscles and tap into a different part of my brain. In short, I’m ready to draw. I’ve been drawing since I was old enough to hold a crayon. My parents were art historians and we had lots of weird stuff around our house: art books, comic books, abandoned paper wasp nests, soda can collections, African masks…you name it. There was a lot to feed a boy’s imagination and my parents encouraged me to exercise mine. I must have spent hundreds, perhaps thousands of hours drawing monsters and seascapes, dragons and castles. I’m happy to say I still do.
I’m not a professional illustrator, which is to say I didn’t get a degree in the subject and haven’t made art for other people’s books. Instead, I’m what I like to call an enthusiastic amateur. I enjoy illustrating my own stories, and have been fortunate enough to work with publishers that allow me to do so. I’ve found that drawing is invaluable to my process. My visual imagination shapes my story, which in turn informs the illustrations. It’s a virtuous cycle, and one that lets me recharge my creative batteries. I’ll often start with pencil sketches of creatures, characters, and settings. These drawings rarely appear in the final book but they’re essential as I build my world and envision its inhabitants or landmarks. When sketching, I try to keep things loose and remember not to grip the pencil too tightly. Over the years, I’ve noticed that tense, anxious drawings have little soul. You can almost sense the artist’s fear of making a mistake. I’d rather my lines be bold and imperfect than stiff and mechanical. For my latest book, IMPYRIUM, I probably did dozens if not hundreds of little drawings. I play around not only with pencil but colored pencils, watercolors, inks, and some shading or painting in Photoshop. Here’s an example of a poster that began with a pencil sketch, which I then scanned and shaded digitally. I’m always looking to learn new techniques and skills and YouTube is a great source for tutorials on techniques and software.
When I’m ready to illustrate the book’s interior, I tend to use old school tools. I’ll lay out a dip pen with a sharp nib, a bottle of India ink, smooth watercolor paper (for its weight and durability), a jar of water, and a small paintbrush. Mechanical pens can work for some tasks, but I find that old-fashioned nibs give me a better feel and make sharper, more fluid lines. Once I’ve finished my lines, I’ll dilute some of the ink with water and layer in washes of gray with my brush. It’s a straightforward technique that lends itself to rich, detailed images that reproduce well.
Of course, these are just the tools I use. Before I even pick up my pen, I think hard about what should be in the picture, where they should be placed, and—most importantly—the mood I want to set with a given illustration. For example, I want some drawings to provoke wonder, some to get a laugh, and others to set my reader on edge. The ways in which I set a mood may be obvious (e.g., comic facial expressions) but they might also be subtle: the presence/absence of sharp points or jagged edges, the balance of light and dark and the transitions between them, rounded shapes and organic lines versus geometric and angular. These little tricks help me make better pictures while influencing the reader’s response when they come across a particular drawing. It’s strange, but I no longer view writing and drawing as separate pursuits. For me, they’ve become two sides of a single coin. While I enjoy them individually, together they allow me to paint whole worlds with words and images. Pursuing both isn’t just fun, it’s a creative compulsion. And it makes for better work. Want to see more of Impyrium’s artwork? Click here and dive into a tale where Old Magic meets new dangers.
Today is the last day of the tour! Check out the other stops for more chances to win!
Blog Tour Schedule:
October 24thCrossroad Reviews
October 25th — Book Swoon
October 26thLife Naturally
October 27thThe Fandom
October 28thGeoLibrarian
October 31st WordSpelunking
November 1stBookhounds
November 2nd The OWL
November 3rdMundie Kids
November 4thRavenous Reader
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In the first book of Henry H. Neff’s new high-stakes middle grade fantasy series, two unlikely allies confront a conspiracy that will shake the world of Impyrium to its core. For over three thousand years, the Faeregine dynasty has ruled Impyrium. But the family’s magic has been fading, and with it their power over the empire. Whether it’s treachery from a rival house, the demon Lirlanders, or rebel forces, many believe the Faeregines are ripe to fall. Hazel, the youngest member of the royal family, is happy to leave ruling to her sisters so that she can study her magic. But the empress has other plans for her granddaughter, dark and dangerous plans to exploit Hazel’s talents and rekindle the Faeregine mystique. Hob, a commoner from the remote provinces, has been sent to the city to serve the Faeregines—and to spy on them. One wants to protect the dynasty. The other wants to destroy it. But when Hazel and Hob form an improbable friendship, their bond may save the realm as they know it…or end it for good.
About the Author: Henry H. Neff grew up outside Chicago before going off to Cornell University, Impyrium is his second series. The first, The Tapestry, is a five-volume epic that follows the life and adventures of Max McDaniels. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with his wife and two sons. You can also find him at where he majored in history. Before becoming a writer, he was a management consultant and also taught history at a San Francisco high school.
  • One (1) winner will receive an Impyrium Prize Pack featuring a collector's box packed with a signed copy of Impyrium, bookmark, poster, Hob temporary tattoo, and a signed sketch by Henry H. Neff (not pictured: bookmark, tattoo, and sketch)
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