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Worldbuilding | Write:Talk

WRITE:TALK is a blog series about the craft of Christian writing.
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In The Beginning...

God has put in us a desire to create. We are in His likeness, and so we make things. One of the best parts of writing for me is illustrating an imagined world. As my Huber Series developed, the creative act of making new worlds was thrilling. It included Worldbuilding. In that pursuit we often get inspired by others. I'd like to tell you about a time I was inspired by one of my art heroes.

Concept sketch for Across the Huber Skies, Floating Boats

James Gurney

I was taught this skill by a great artist, several years ago. James Gurney, the well-known creator of Dinotopia 1 taught a Worldbuilding seminar that I attended. As usual, I got there 20 minutes early. I went in and sat in the front row, and he was there getting his presentation ready. When he finished, he greeted me. Then he came down off the stage and sat by me.

"Hi, I'm James," he began. After I introduced myself and told him that I was a college instructor, he followed up with several education questions. I knew that he and Thomas Kincade had gone to the Art Center in L.A. and upon graduation hopped on a train and sketched all the way to New York, where they entered Watson Guptill Publishing and sold their sketchbooks as a new drawing book. It became one of the best. 2

After James and Thomas got back to California, they landed a job painting the backdrops to a movie, Fire and Ice. Being very interested in dinosaurs, he went on to illustrate for National Geographic and later developed the fantasy world of Dinotopia where men and dinosaurs lived together. His three books were very successful and even made into a mini-series on ABC. He chose TV over a cinema (which was millions less) because the TV deal would be free for kids.

The Worldbuilding seminar was great. His rules included: In Dinotopia, all Dinosaurs are real and existed at one time. But in his books, they talk and wear clothes. (not real) He showed his thumbnails for the picture book and his whole process. If you want to learn more about him and his work, check out his blog. It's rated as one of the top-ten art websites on the internet. Gurney Journey He gave me a door hanger for my studio.

"As iron sharpens iron, so one sharpens another."

Proverbs 27:17
  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinotopia ↩︎
  2. James Gurney, Thomas Kincade, The Artist's Guide to Sketching, Watson-Guptill Pubns; Reissue edition (January 1, 1988) ↩︎


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