Monday, October 12, 2009

The art of Levathan, part two: An interview with Keith Thompson

We just posted the second half of our “Art of Leviathan” intreviews on Earlier we talked with Scott Westerfeld about what is was like to be the art director on his own book—the steampunk, young adult novel, Leviathan. Now we have artist Keith Thompson talking about the fifty illustrations that help flush out Scott’s world. Keith did a great job of mixing historical details with fantastical creatures (both mechanical and animal) creating a fun, action packed pace while maintaining the tone of a more formal era.

See the full interview on

What kind of research did you do for the book, either for artistic inspiration or for historical details?

It’s a bit dangerous for me when the setup is as interesting as WWI. I actually had to pull back a bit as my research was taking away time from the art at points and it was making me far too pedantic about my details. That might have been fine for a drier and harder type of alternate past story, but I knew that Leviathan was meant to be a rip-roaring type of adventure and that a fun and fantastical angle to the art was extremely important.

I also wanted to have the historical setting somewhat pliable, as it would be a very bad thing to plunk all these walkers and beasts and things in the middle of history without having ripples spread throughout the setting; changing little things from how a nation’s cavalry uniform looks to how a culture’s architecture has evolved.

I’m learning new interesting things all the time and compiling them into a pretty elaborate collection of research. I’ll be researching right up to the last illustration, and will probably have collected a monumental load of brilliant things I’ll wish I could have incorporated but couldn’t fit in.


mordicai said...

I've been a Keith Thompson fan for a while now, & when I started Leviathan & saw that he had done the art, I was pleased as pumpkin pie; it was gorgeous stuff. I hear tell there will be an oversized art appendix...for which I anxiously await.

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