These are Quentin Blake’s drawings for Roald Dahl’s The BFG, published in 1982. The BFG is a Big Friendly Giant who catches dreams, destroys the bad ones and then blows the good ones into children’s ears while they are asleep. Sophie and the BFG defeat the man-eating giants of Dream Country and live happily ever after.
How did Quentin Blake work on the illustrations for The BFG?
This first image is a type of drawing that Quentin Blake calls a ‘rough’. It is a sketch to help him work out how the character stands, their expression and how they fit on the page. Here he has written a note about the leather bag around the BFG’s neck.
In the second sketch, Quentin is having some fun with the size and shape of the BFG’s ears! In the next sheet we see the BFG in silhouette striding across the landscape, for the beginning of chapter 11. In Quentin’s other drawings, the BFG shows Sophie how he catches dreams with his net and stores them in bottles in his cave. Quentin makes a complete set of roughs for the whole book before he creates the finished illustrations.
How did Quentin Blake create the final illustrations?
To make the finished illustrations, Quentin puts his rough on a lightbox and covers it with a piece of watercolour paper. The lightbox helps Quentin see the outline of his rough sketch through the watercolour paper. He then draws a finished version, keeping the most important parts of the rough and also its spontaneity. Sometimes he may do two or three finished versions before he gets exactly the effect he wants.
This finished pen and watercolour illustration of Sophie and the BFG is from the end of the book.
Quentin Blake’s favourite
Quentin worked with Roald Dahl for 13 years from 1977 until Roald died in 1990. He says that The BFG was his favourite book of Roald’s to illustrate because he got to know it so well. He spent a long time thinking about the drawings and talking to Roald about them.