By Andy on 6 October 2015 at 12:00 GMT
Harry Potter Fan Zone recently had the chance to participate in a group interview with Jim Kay, the artist behind the gorgeous Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone illustrated edition, released today.
Jim is currently at work illustrating Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but took some time out to talk about bringing J.K. Rowling's words to life.
Always J.K. Rowling (AJKR): Were you influenced by previous Harry Potter illustrators/the films or did you veer away from both?
I’m a huge fan of both the books and the films. I thought the screen adaptations were a wonderful showcase of the best set design, product design, costume, casting, directing and acting their disciplines had to offer. I knew from the start that I’m competing to some degree with the hundreds of people involved in the visuals of the film. I remember watching the extras that come with the movie DVDs a few years back, and wondering how on earth you’d get to be lucky enough to work on the visuals for such a great project. To be offered the opportunity to design the whole world again from scratch was fantastic, but very daunting. I’d like to think that over the years lots of illustrators will have a crack at Potter, in the same way that Alice in Wonderland has seen generations of artists offer their own take on Lewis Carroll’s novel. I had to make it my version though, and so from the start I needed to set it apart from the films. I’ll be honest I’ve only seen a few illustrations from other Potter books, so that’s not been so much of a problem. I love Jonny Duddle’s covers, and everyone should see Andrew Davidson’s engravings — they are incredible!
Magical Menagerie (MM): What was the most important detail for you to get right with your illustrations?
To try and stay faithful to the book. It’s very easy when you are scribbling away to start wandering off in different directions, so you must remind yourself to keep reading Jo’s text. Technically speaking though, I think composition is important — the way the movement and characters arrange themselves on the page — this dictates the feel of the book.
SnitchSeeker (SS): What medium do you use to create your illustrations?
I use anything that makes a mark — I am not fussy. So I don’t rely on expensive watercolour or paints, although I do occasionally use them – I like to mix them up with cheap house paint, or wax crayons. Sometimes in a local DIY store I’ll see those small tester pots of wall paint going cheap in a clear-out sale, and I’ll buy stacks of them, and experiment with painting in layers and sanding the paint back to get nice textures. The line is almost always pencil, 4B or darker, but the colour can be a mixture of any old paint, watercolour, acrylic, and oil. Diagon Alley was unusual in that I digitally coloured the whole illustration in order to preserve the pencil line drawing. I’d recommend experimenting; there is no right or wrong way to make an illustration, just do what works for you!
The Daily Snitcher (TDS): Because each book is so rich in detail, what is your personal process when choosing specific images?
I read the book, then read it again and again, making notes. You start off with lots of little ideas, and draw a tiny thumbnail illustration, about the size of a postage stamp, to remind you of the idea for an illustration you had while reading the book. I then start to draw them a little bigger, about postcard size, and show them to Bloomsbury [UK publisher]. We then think about how many illustrations will appear in each chapter, and try to get the balance of the book right by moving pictures around, dropping or adding these rough drawings as we go. With Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Bloomsbury were great in that they let me try all sorts of things out, different styles, concepts. Some I didn’t think would get into the final book, but everyone was very open to new ideas. There was no definite plan with regards to how the book would look; we just experimented and let it evolve.
MuggleNet (MN): Given the distinct split of younger vs. more mature readers of the series, how do you construct your illustrations so that they can appeal to both audiences at once?
The simple answer is I don’t try. I think only about the author and myself. You can’t please everyone, particularly when you know how many people have read the book. I don’t think good books are made by trying to appeal to a wide audience. You just try to do the best work you can in the time given, and respect the author’s work. Most illustrators are never happy with their own work. You always feel you want to try more combinations or alternative compositions. You are forever in search of that golden illustration that just ‘works’, but of course it’s impossible to achieve — there will always be another way of representing the text. Effectively you chase rainbows until you run out of time! You get a gut feeling if an image is working. I remember what I liked as a child (Richard Scarry books!). Detail and humour grabbed me as a nipper, and it’s the same now I’m in my forties.
The Leaky Cauldron (TLC): Did you base any characters or items in the book on real people or things?
Lots of the book is based on real places, people and experiences. It helps to make the book personal to me, and therefore important. The main characters of the books are based on real people, partly for practical reasons, because I need to see how the pupils age over seven years. In Diagon Alley in particular, some of the shop names are personal to me. As a child we had a toad in the garden called Bufo (from the latin Bufo bufo), Noltie’s Botanical Novelties is named after a very clever friend of mine who works at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh. The shop called ‘Tut’s Nuts’ is a little joke from my days working at Kew Gardens; they had in their collections some seeds from the tomb of Tutankhamun, which were affectionately known as ‘Tut’s Nuts’. The imprisoned boy reaching for an apple in Brigg’s Brooms is from a drawing my friend did when we were about 9 years old — that’s thirty two years ago!
Harry Potter's Page (HPP): Which character was the most difficult to draw?
Harry, without a doubt. Children are difficult to draw because you can’t use too many lines around the eyes and face, otherwise they look old. One misplaced pencil line can age a child by years, so you have to get it just right. Also Harry’s glasses are supposed to look repaired and bent out of shape, which I’ve found tricky to get right.
AJKR: What is your favourite scene you have illustrated?
That’s a difficult one. I’m fond of the ghosts. I paint them in reverse (almost like a photographic negative) and layer several paintings to make them translucent. I enjoyed Nearly Headless Nick. I really enjoyed illustrating the trolls too. Your favourite illustrations tend to be the ones that gave you the least amount of difficulties and I think Diagon Alley was nice for this reason. It was more like a brainstorming exercise, slowly working from left to right. My favourite character to illustrate is Hagrid — I love big things!
MM: Are there any hidden messages/items in your drawings for the Harry Potter series?
There are, but they are little things that relate to my life, so I’m not sure how much sense they’d make to other people. I like to include my dog in illustrations if I can (he’s in Diagon Alley). I also put a hare in my work, for good luck. There’s a hare in A Monster Calls, and in Harry Potter. My friends appear as models for the characters in book one, and some of their names too can be seen carved on a door, and on Diagon Alley. There are little references to later books too, such as on the wrought-iron sign of the Leaky Cauldron. I do it to keep things interesting for me while I’m drawing.
Harry Potter Fan Zone (HPFZ): How did you approach illustrating the Hogwarts Castle and grounds?
I really enjoyed doing this. You have to go through all seven books looking for mentions of the individual rooms, turrets, doors and walls of the castle, and make lots of notes. Then you check for mentions of its position, for example if you can see the sun set from a certain window, to find out which way the castle is facing. I then built a small model out of scrap card and Plasticine and tried lighting it from different directions. It was important to see how it would look in full light, or as a silhouette. Then it was a long process of designing the Great Hall, and individual towers. I have a huge number of drawings just experimenting with different doorways, roofs. Some early compositions were quite radical, then I hit upon the idea of trees growing under, through and over the whole castle, as if the castle had grown out of the landscape. This also gives me the opportunity to show trees growing through the inside of some rooms in future illustrations.
TLC: What illustrations in the book are you most proud of?
Usually it’s the ones that took the least amount of effort! It takes me so many attempts to get an illustration to work, that if one works on the second or third attempt, it’s a big relief. There is one illustration in the book that worked first time (a chapter opener of Hogwarts architecture, with birds nesting on the chimney pots). It kind of felt wrong that the illustration was done without agonising over it for days, it didn’t feel real somehow, so I’m proud of that one because it’s so rare that I get an image to work first time! The only other illustration that was relatively straightforward was the Sorting Hat. Illustrations that come a little easier tend to have a freshness about them, and I think those two feel a little bit looser than others in the book.
HPP: Which book do you think will be the most challenging one to illustrate?
At the minute it’s book two! I think book one I was full of adrenaline, driven by sheer terror! Book two I want to have a different feel, and that makes it challenging to start again and rethink the process.
HPFZ: Is there a particular scene in the future Harry Potter books you're excited to illustrate?
I’m really looking forward to painting Aragog in book two. I’m really fond of spiders — there are lots in my studio — so it’s great having reference close to hand! I’m hoping that by the Deathly Hallows we will be fully into a darker and more adult style of illustration, to reflect the perils facing Potter!
SS: How many illustrations did you initially do for the book, and how many of those appeared in the final edition?
There are stacks of concept drawings that no one will ever see, such as the Hogwarts sketches, which I needed to do in order to get my head around the book. Then there are rough drawings, then rough drawings that are worked up a little more, and then it might take five or six attempts for each illustration to get it right.
MN: What house do you think you may have been placed in, aged 11, and would it be the same now?
I’d like to think it was Ravenclaw as a child. I was much more confident back then, and creative, plus they have an interesting house ghost in the form of the Grey Lady. These days I work hard and am loyal, so probably Hufflepuff.
TDS: Illustrating aside, what is one thing that you love doing to express your creativity?
It’s difficult to say because for the past 5 years I have worked on illustration seven days a week, every hour of the day. A few years back I started to write, and I really enjoyed that, it’s far more intimate than illustrating, and I love going over the same line and trying to hone it down to the core of what you are trying to express. My partner makes hats, and I’m very envious. It looks like wonderful fun. We have lots of designs for hats in sketchbooks. I really want to get some time to make some. I’ve always been slightly torn that I didn’t go into fashion, but my sewing is terrible. I used to play guitar a lot and write little bits of music, but that’s difficult now because my hand gets very stiff from drawing all day! The funny thing is, if I did ever get a day off, I’d just want to draw!
By Andy on 23 September 2015 at 21:46 GMT
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling revealed some exciting new information about the 'Potter' family lineage over at Pottermore today. She also revealed, at long last, the names of Harry's grandparents — Fleamont and Euphemia Potter.
The Potter family is a very old one, but it was never (until the birth of Harry James Potter) at the very forefront of wizarding history, contenting itself with a solid and comfortable existence in the backwaters.
Potter is a not uncommon Muggle surname, and the family did not make the so-called ‘Sacred Twenty-Eight’ for this reason; the anonymous compiler of that supposedly definitive list of pure-bloods suspected that they had sprung from what he considered to be tainted blood. The wizarding Potter family had illustrious beginnings, however, some of which was hinted at in Deathly Hallows.
In the Muggle world ‘Potter’ is an occupational surname, meaning a man who creates pottery. The wizarding family of Potters descends from the twelfth-century wizard Linfred of Stinchcombe, a locally well-beloved and eccentric man, whose nickname, ‘the Potterer’, became corrupted in time to ‘Potter’. Linfred was a vague and absent-minded fellow whose Muggle neighbours often called upon his medicinal services. None of them realised that Linfred’s wonderful cures for pox and ague were magical; they all thought him a harmless and lovable old chap, pottering about in his garden with all his funny plants. His reputation as a well-meaning eccentric served Linfred well, for behind closed doors he was able to continue the series of experiments that laid the foundation of the Potter family’s fortune. Historians credit Linfred as the originator of a number of remedies that evolved into potions still used to this day, including Skele-gro and Pepperup Potion. His sales of such cures to fellow witches and wizards enabled him to leave a significant pile of gold to each of his seven children upon his death.
Linfred’s eldest son, Hardwin, married a beautiful young witch by the name of Iolanthe Peverell, who came from the village of Godric’s Hollow. She was the granddaughter of Ignotus Peverell. In the absence of male heirs, she, the eldest of her generation, had inherited her grandfather’s invisibility cloak. It was, Iolanthe explained to Hardwin, a tradition in her family that the possession of this cloak remained a secret, and her new husband respected her wishes. From this time on, the cloak was handed down to the eldest in each new generation.
The Potters continued to marry their neighbours, occasionally Muggles, and to live in the West of England, for several generations, each one adding to the family coffers by their hard work and, it must be said, by the quiet brand of ingenuity that had characterised their forebear, Linfred.
Occasionally, a Potter made it all the way to London, and a member of the family has twice sat on the Wizengamot: Ralston Potter, who was a member from 1612-1652, and who was a great supporter of the Statute of Secrecy (as opposed to declaring war on the Muggles, as more militant members wished to do) and Henry Potter (Harry to his intimates), who was a direct descendant of Hardwin and Iolanthe, and served on the Wizengamot from 1913 – 1921. Henry caused a minor stir when he publicly condemned then Minister for Magic, Archer Evermonde, who had forbidden the magical community to help Muggles waging the First World War. His outspokenness on the behalf of the Muggle community was also a strong contributing factor in the family’s exclusion from the ‘Sacred Twenty-Eight’.
Henry’s son was called Fleamont Potter. Fleamont was so called because it was the dying wish of Henry’s mother that he perpetuate her maiden name, which would otherwise die out. He bore the burden remarkably well; indeed, he always attributed his dexterity at duelling to the number of times he had to fight people at Hogwarts after they had made fun of his name. It was Fleamont who took the family gold and quadrupled it, by creating magical Sleekeazy’s Hair Potion ( ‘two drops tames even the most bothersome barnet’ ). He sold the company at a vast profit when he retired, but no amount of riches could compensate him or his wife Euphemia for their childlessness. They had quite given up hope of a son or daughter when, to their shock and surprise, Euphemia found that she was pregnant and their beloved boy, James, was born.
Fleamont and Euphemia lived long enough to see James marry a Muggle-born girl called Lily Evans, but not to meet their grandson, Harry. Dragon pox carried them off within days of each other, due to their advanced age, and James Potter then inherited Ignotus Peverell’s Invisibility Cloak.
By Andy on 19 September 2015 at 19:29 GMT
Universal has revealed the first poster for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park, opening Spring 2016 at Universal Studios in Hollywood.
By Andy on 19 September 2015 at 19:18 GMT
By Andy on 10 September 2015 at 21:37 GMT
Bloomsbury and Buzzfeed have revealed two new images from the Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone illustrated edition, due for release in October. Check out a sketch of Harry, and an illustration of Hagrid on the enchanted motorbike below.
By Andy on 26 August 2015 at 12:04 GMT
Check out a new piece of artwork from Jim Kay's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone illustrated edition below. The illustrated edition will be available in October.
By Andy on 17 August 2015 at 23:17 GMT
Warner Bros. today confirmed that filming on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has commenced at Leavesden Studios in the United Kingdom. All eight Harry Potter films were also shot at Leavesden.
A number of new cast members and characters were also revealed today: Ezra Miller will play a character called Credence, Samantha Morton will play Mary Lou, while Jenn Murray will play a character called Chastity.
Already confirmed are Eddie Redmayne as protagonist Newt Scamander, Katherine Waterston as Tina, Alison Sudol as Queenie, Dan Fogler as Newt's rival, Jacob, Faith Wood-Blagrove as Modesty, and Colin Farrell as Graves.
Fantastic Beasts will be the first in a new Harry Potter film trilogy, set 70 years before Harry's saga. David Yates is returning to direct, while J.K. Rowling will pen the screenplay. The film also reunites producer David Heyman, production designer Stuart Craig, editor Mark Day, and visual effects supervisors Tim Burke and Christian Manz.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be released on 18 November 2016.
By Andy on 13 August 2015 at 23:02 GMT
Earlier this month, we reported that the Harry Potter soundtracks would be released on vinyl for the first time, beginning with the score for Deathly Hallows: Part 1.
Now, a vinyl release for Deathly Hallows: Part 2 has been announced. The score will be available as a double LP on special black and blue marbled vinyl, with a pressing limited to 1000 copies. The score will be released on September 28 of this year, a month after the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 release.
Alexandre Desplat scored both Deathly Hallows: Parts 1 and 2; you can learn more about his scores and the six earlier releases in our soundtracks and sheet music section.
By Andy on 6 August 2015 at 13:48 GMT
Irish actor Colin Farrell will play a wizard named 'Graves' in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film. According to the report, Graves is "a wizard that Newt Scamander [played by Eddie Redmayne] meets in New York."
Farrell has starred in films such as In Bruges (2008), alongside 'Potter' alumni Brendan Gleeson (Mad-Eye Moody), Ralph Fiennes (Lord Voldemort) and Clémence Poésy (Fleur Delacour), Seven Psychopaths (2012) and Saving Mr. Banks (2013). He's currently appearing in the second season of HBO's True Detective.
In other Fantastic Beasts casting news, CBBC Newsround is reporting that 10-year-old Faith Wood-Blagrove has been chosen to play the character of Modesty. Open auditions for the character were held last month.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be released in November next year. It will be directed by David Yates with a screenplay by Rowling, and stars Eddie Redmayne (Newt), Katherine Waterston (Tina), Alison Sudol (Queenie) and Dan Fogler (Jacob).
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By Andy on 4 August 2015 at 13:03 GMT
The folks over at New On Vinyl let us know that for the first time, the Harry Potter soundtracks will be released on vinyl. Alexandre Desplat's 2010 score for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is the first to be released, and will be available as a double LP, on green marbled vinyl, with a limited print run of 1000 copies.
Alexandre Desplat scored the seventh and eighth Harry Potter films, taking over from John Williams (Philosopher's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban), Patrick Doyle (Goblet of Fire) and Nicholas Hooper (Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince).
You can preorder the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 vinyl by clicking here. It will be available for shipping on 31 August. Learn more about the Harry Potter scores over at our soundtracks and sheet music section.
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By Andy on 28 July 2015 at 23:32 GMT
Bonnie Wright, Ginny Weasley in all eight Harry Potter films, was recently profiled by OKREAL where she chatted candidly about life after 'Potter', growing up in the spotlight, and future acting and directing endeavours. Speaking about her 'Potter' journey, Wright said:
Harry Potter was 10 years of my life, and when you finish a huge chapter like that, it’s this exciting new phase where you want to do new things. So then you start doing the new things, and you begin questioning yourself, thinking—is this truly what I want to be doing? When I started Harry Potter, I was fresh and young, and in a way, when I finished I was too. Because it’s such a particular world. It was one of those things you thought you had perspective on, but really didn’t until you were out of it.
So what's Bonnie doing four years on from 'Deathly Hallows'? She's currently filming The Highway Is for Gamblers, due for release later this year, and doing charity work with Oxfam and the Global Poverty Project, adding, "I want to use the privilege I have of a voice to help". Way to go, Bonnie.
You can continue reading the insightful piece over at OKREAL.
By Andy on 26 July 2015 at 12:39 GMT
Chris Columbus, director of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, recently expressed interest in directing another Harry Potter film — set before the events of the Deathly Hallows epilogue. Asked about returning to the 'Potter' universe, Columbus said:
"I would love to go back and do another one. "Not 'Fantastic Beasts' as much, which I think is going to be amazing, but I would love to do another movie with those three characters – Harry, Hermione, and Ron. "I'm just fascinated about what happened to them after the end of the last movie, because then they cut to 18 years ahead. There's 18 years there of great Harry Potter stories," he said.
And what does J.K. Rowling think of the idea? Columbus mused, "I don't have the courage to actually mention that to her because I have such respect for her. She should do what she wants to do, but I really would love to know what's in her head about those missing years."
Chris Columbus directed Philosopher's Stone in 2001 and Chamber of Secrets in 2002. He returned as a producer on Prisoner of Azkaban in 2004 before parting with the franchise to spend more time with his family.
By Andy on 25 July 2015 at 10:30 GMT
Dan Fogler, the actor set to play Jacob in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, answered a number of fan questions on Twitter recently. Check out his responses below.
@ThiegoNovais both. they're building a time portal to New York.
— Dan Fogler (@mrdanfogler) July 20, 2015
@diemaximoff started weeping with joy. then my tears became tiny winged puppies & I knew I was home.
— Dan Fogler (@mrdanfogler) July 20, 2015
— Thiego Novais (@ThiegoNovais) July 20, 2015
The first film in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them trilogy will be released in November next year. It'll be directed by David Yates (Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2) and written by J.K. Rowling.
By Andy on 23 July 2015 at 14:10 GMT
Dan Radcliffe, the actor who brought Harry Potter to life, turns 26 today! In honour of Dan's birthday, take a look back at Harry's evolution over eight 'Potter' films. Which era was your favourite?
By Andy on 21 July 2015 at 19:07 GMT
How much would it cost to study at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry? A recent study took a entertaining estimate at the cost of magical tuition — everything from wands and cauldrons to textbooks and robes. Fortunately, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling was at hand to clear things up, revealing that the Ministry of Magic covers the cost of a magical education. Brilliant!
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) July 17, 2015