Since I first wrote about illustrator Patrick Arrasmith back in 2008, he has become best known as the illustrator of the Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney.
Arrasmith works in the difficult but rewarding medium of scratchboard, in which line and tone are created by scratching black ink from the surface of clay-coated board on which it has been applied, leaving white areas or lines where the ink has been scratched away (in Arrasmith’s case, with a #16 X-acto blade).
His technique allows him to create appropriately spooky imagery for the series, not only in working from black to white, but also because it produces that wonderfully textural line and tone quality, somewhere between pen and ink and wood engraving, that is unique to scratchboard.
In a number of the chapter headings, Arrasmith has carried forward the older tradition of allowing areas with the illustration for the incorporation of the initial block of text that starts the chapter, sometimes knockout text in white against a block background, sometimes in white areas, often with an inventive take on how the text is blended into the art.
For color work, such as the series covers, Arrasmith scans the scratchboard drawings and applies color digitally in Photoshop.
Since my initial post, Arrasmith has updated his website with a new design and nice large images that allow you to see some of the detail and textural characteristics of his approach. When viewing his online portfolio, be aware that there are several sections, accessed from small text links at the bottom right of the main Portfolio page.
There are a couple of videos on YouTube of Arrasmith discussing his work for the series, in one he talks briefly about his process, in the other he highlights some of his favorites among the illustrations.
[For more background on scratchboard, a Lines and Colors search for scratchboard will bring up other posts in which the medium is discussed.]