The book I am doing a sketch for is “The Ghost Pirates” by William Hope Hodgson. The passages that informed my illustratation are the first sighting of a ghost pirate by the main character:
“It was the same figure that I had just been attributing to my fancy. I will admit that I felt more startled; I was quite a bit frightened. I was convinced now that it was no mere imaginary thing. It was a human figure. And yet, with the flicker of the moonlight and the shadows chasing over it, I was unable to say more than that.”
“I had gone half the distance, and still the figure remained there, motionless and silent- the moonlight and the shadows playing over it with each roll of the ship.”
I have a huge respect for the Golden Age of Illustration and many of the top illustrators that I love had done some magnificent Pirate illustrations. So this book was a great chance to take my hand at one, and hope I could do the illustration justice.
Here are amazing paintings by Cornwell, N.C. Wyeth, Rockwell, and Pyle.
My thumbnails were trying to connect the character with the ship and shadowing/moonlight the passage refers. To almost lose the form in the shadows of the ship, but yet still have it remain tangible that someone could believe it to be a man.
I wanted to feel the sway of the boat and still see the sea behind the figure in the moonlight. At first I was thinking maybe the pirate would have a weird angle to its body like a zombie, but then thought that the passage didn’t describe anything like that, instead the opposite that the figure just stood there. So I thought maybe a more neutral position. In a later passage the eyes are described to be like glowing orbs so I thought that might be something to play with, almost like cat eyes reflecting light.