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Art Inspiration from Antique Fairy Tale Book

Antique fairy tale illustration

As most Japanese families do, we live in a small home with limited space for bookshelves. So instead of lining walls, I have boxes full of beautiful antique and vintage books that I insisted on bringing when we moved here from Norway. It was time for us to take care of my husband’s aging parents.

It’s been my intention for a long time to share these family treasures. I spend far too much time just leafing through them wishing I could create art just like that...
Most books are in Norwegian, Swedish or Danish and the most beautiful ones are from the 1800s, while some fairytales from the 1900s are gorgeous too. 

In fact, my desire to become an illustrator was born by looking at amazing illustrations from the Golden Age of Illustration that was in full bloom in the 1800s until 1920s. That's when color printing became possible, although many of the illustrations I will be sharing here are black line art. 

Check out my Pinterest boards Vintage & Antique Book Covers and Vintage Illustration.

Hard as I tried, I never managed to copy the methods of those great artists so I had to figure out my own process. I started mixing watercolor, gouache, and colored pencils and that's what I’m sharing in my video tutorials. Watercolor base, then adding a few colored pencils and gouache for effect. 

My first installment is fairy tales by H.C. Andersen illustrated by B. Pedersen, published in Copenhagen by Gyldendals Boghandel in 1897. The illustrations are from "Thumbelina" and "The Wild Swans".

I hope you enjoy!

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Antique book cover H.C. Andersen Fairy Tales

Wild Swans. Antique fairy tale illustration.

Free download

Thumbelina. Antique fairy tale illustration.