Pick up a pencil and follow Larry MacDougall's concept creation process in this first of a three-part series.

Step 01: There are an endless number of ways to draw faeries, so I decide to jump in with the first page and just see what happens with some random doodles. I am thinking about poses and costumes and what kind of personality the faerie might have. Is she good or bad, sneaky or shy? I have to find out through drawing. I like what is happening and I decide to keep going and push onto another page.

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Step 02: I am starting to feel warmed up and I keep drawing. Faeries are closely tied to the natural world and so I draw a wren in the lower right corner. Maybe it will spark an idea. It could be something I want to come back to later. I kind of like the faerie in the upper left corner with the bee. This idea has potential. Let’s keep going and see what happens.

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Step 03: The faerie with the bee from the previous page has inspired me to try again, so I draw the central figure on this page and play up what I am calling the “ragamuffin” character I felt she had from the first drawing. I like this idea but I push on and try a few other things. I give the one on the left a kind of Brian Froud-inspired hat and cover it with vines and wild flowers.

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Step 04: I still like the ragamuffin idea and have advanced to calling it the Ragamuffin Ballet. I want to see what else I can come up with. One has a rain drop and I come in a bit closer and do a sort of portrait on another one. I want to see if I can start to pin down what she might look like. It’s still too soon for anything definite but I would like to have something in the bank if further explorations do not pan out

Step 05: I want to change it up a little this time and head down a slightly darker path. The bee has got me thinking about wasps and what a wasp faerie might be like. Nasty and mean, I think, and she would probably sting! She might even be evil, which is where I end up with the drawing in the lower right-hand corner. She looks like something that might fly out of the dark and put a curse on you.  I have given them striped costumes to emphasize the wasp/danger idea that many stinging insects have.

Step 06: I want to push the wasp idea a little further and she becomes more shadowy and phantom-like as I keep drawing. Again I have stopped in the right-hand corner with a ghostly sketch that will point the way onto the next page.

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Step 07: Here I am now thinking about ghosts, spirit faeries and mysterious beings half glimpsed at twilight. The central figure still has a wasp-like costume but the emphasis is now on spooky and dangerous shadow faeries. I want to keep the drawings vague and misty so that you’re not quite sure what you’re looking at. This will help to strengthen the supernatural idea.

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Step 08: I keep drawing, but the shadow faeries are less spooky and I start coming back to the lighter side of the unseen realm. The Ragamuffin Ballet is still in the back of my mind, although I am still drawing in a ghostly and blurred way with lost edges and non-contrasting tones. While drawing the figure on the right, some random lines begin to indicate a muscular arm, and so I go with it even though it seems completely inappropriate for that kind of character. I can’t stop myself.

Step 09Now I am back on track after a diversion into the shadow world of dark faeries. I want to see if I can make the bee idea work. Here is a shot at what the final drawing might look like. I want the faerie and the bee to be connected. They know each other and like each other.


Larry MacDougall is a fantasy illustrator and Silver Spectrum Award winner based in Canada. Find more of his work HERE.