Sunday, March 11, 2012

Star Shard Week: Visual Themes

There may be minor spoilers for some parts of the story during Star Shard Week.

Welcome to Day Six of Star Shard Week!
Don't forget to check out The Star Shard author Frederic S. Durbin's companion posts over on his blog. You definitely don't want to miss Fred's discussion of one of the story's fundamental themes in his post entitled Coming of Age.

I tend to tell stories less through complex symbolism, which some illustrators are outstanding at doing, and more through characterization. Perhaps because I was so influenced by comics and animation from a young age, I often focus on the emotional components of a story as expressed by characters' faces and body language. There were a few visual themes, however, that I did try to carry through my illustrations for "The Star Shard."

Windswept flower petals and leaves:
There are a couple of reasons I like to use these elements in an illustration, and they were especially relevant to "The Star Shard." Visually, they add movement and interest to a composition. Symbolically, leaves falling from the trees in autumn represent the passage of time and the cycle of death and rebirth. Plants go dormant or die in the fall. Animals migrate or hibernate to survive the cold winter months. In the spring, life is born anew. In Japan, the fleeting beauty of cherry blossoms is symbolic of the impermanence of life.
In "The Star Shard," Cymbril is growing up. She's learning new things about herself. She feels compelled to leave the Thunder Rake and find a new place in life, somewhere she feels she belongs.
In this illustration of Cymbril, the petals are representative of change.

Cymbril reflects as she prepares to embark on a new journey.

I'll admit I like to sneak animals into a lot of my illustrations. In this case, though, I made a conscious effort to depict birds in many of my "The Star Shard" paintings. They represent freedom and, most importantly in "The Star Shard," the power of song. I wanted to emphasize their connection to Cymbril, the Urrmsh, the Sidhe, and the music of nature itself.

Some of the many birds that appear in my "The Star Shard" illustrations.
The bird turned out to be my favorite part of this illustration.

Birds everywhere!

Both birds and leaves make an appearance here!

Thanks for reading, and don't forget to stop by for the final day of Star Shard Week!

The Star Shard, by Frederic S. Durbin, is a fantasy adventure story about Cymbril, a girl on a journey of self-discovery.

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