Lonely Planet Writer

In the studio with Lindsey Spinks, illustrator for Ancient Wonders - Then & Now

Lindsey hard at work in her studio © Lindsey Spinks

Illustrating our new Lonely Planet Kids title, Ancient Wonders - Then & Now, was never going to be simple. It opens and folds to reveal in incredible detail what the ancient wonders of the world used to look like, from Angor Wat to Stonehenge. We found out from the illustrator Lindsey Spinks just what it took to create such intricate and impressive drawings.

Tell us about the brief

The task was to illustrate 12 of history’s most famous civilizations which included amazing palaces, temples and buildings from across the world. The illustrations needed to depict what the ancient wonders look like today compared to how they looked thousands of years ago. Illustrated gatefolds and flaps reveal how these wonders were built and their role in ancient society.

How did you make a start?

I collected photos and sketches for each page and made my own rough sketches. Bringing all of these elements together allowed me to observe the overall feel of each page and feed in as much detail and information as possible to the drawings.

Were there any challenges?

There were certainly a few! Firstly, because of the level of detail in my illustrations, I had to be mindful of timings, making sure I delivered the roughs, final sketches and final art on time. I also found it tricky illustrating tiny people because this meant I had to take a step back in terms of detail. It sounds like it would make it simpler but it meant adapting my work slightly which is always challenging. The final challenge came when my computer decided it couldn’t cope with the huge Photoshop files and gave up — luckily this was near the completion of the project so it worked out alright in the end!

What’s the one item in your studio you can’t live without?

Am I allowed to say my dogs? Technically they're two items and they’re not items, they're dogs... However, I really appreciate having them by my side when I spend longs day illustrating; it’s a great excuse to leave my studio for fresh air. If I was being logical I'd say my computer — without it, I wouldn't be able to finalise or send off any work.

How did you get into illustrating books?

This is actually my first picture book, which is really exciting! This project came about after my lovely agents shared my work at Bologna Book Fair and I went for a meeting at Lonely Planet not long after. I hope this will be the beginning of many picture book projects as I absolutely loved working with the team on this project.

Lindsey's illustrations

The Colosseum taking shape - look at that detail
The final of The Colosseum spread
Lindsey as a 'moai' or 'Dum Dum' if you've seen that well-known film set in a New York museum...
Final of the Easter Island spread
Adding colour to the Angor Wat final drawing
Final of the Angor Wat spread
Final section of The Great Pyramid of Giza