!Speake! > Septimus Heap

Mr. Zug--i just wanted to say what a fan i am of your work. I'm sure that i am entirely too old to be reading "Young Adult" fiction, but since i picked up the first Septimus Heap book, i've been fascinated. Your artwork is so captivating. I find i take more time at the beginning of each chapter to study the illustrations than it takes for me to read the chapter. And i have never enjoyed illustrations more than a story before. Since i am in the middle of Syren, i am in love with the "Cerys". I don't see that artwork for sale, and i'm sure if i did, that i couldn't possibly afford it. But the pencil drawing of the "Cerys" would be my choice and if, say you would be interested in posting that artwork for sale, i would like to know how much it would be. Thank you again for your hard work on this series of books. I so enjoy it.

November 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMeredith Howard

Thank you very much for being too young to be too old for fantastical fictitious worlds, Meredith, and for your kind words. They honor me and keep me in work ethic.

It's true that the Septimus Heap art hasn't yet been formally posted for sale, but several originals have sold nonetheless, via private e-mail. Drop me a line and we can talk price, always. The Cerys is a design I had not known of before called a barquentine -- it should be noted in passing that Angie Sage is a sailor and sailing enthusiast who knows something of boats and charts. The nautical flavor of Syren engaged me right away, and is probably for that reason my favorite Heap book so far. Not to give anything away, but it's got everything a Treasure Island cum Jules Verne fantasy could promise -- plus girls.

I am also adding some Septimus Heap prints to the roster in response to another request, so keep an eye out for those, too.

November 28, 2009 | Registered CommenterMark Zug

Dearest Mark Zug,
I really LOVE your illustrations! As soon as I saw the picture of Jenna Heap, I wondered who drew her. She is my absolute favorite character. I have seen other illustrations by you and I am fasinated by them thank you for drawing!

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLeannyoung

Thank you, Leanne -- Jenna is extraordinarily vivid for me; with no models but subconscious ones. And to Allie, who left an e-mail that appears to be from an inactive address, I'm happy to respond in thanks, to your enthusiasm. For me there's no time spent better than drawing what I imagine. If you have as much passion for it as your letter suggests, then with the oblivion of long and happy practice, you *will* build your own exceptional style.

Best wishes, all.
Mark Z

January 7, 2010 | Registered CommenterMark Zug

Dear Mr. Zug,
I agree with Leanne: your pictures of Jenna are amazing!!! I was a bit dissapointed that there were no new pictures of Jenna in Syren (don't get me wrong; all of your illustrations in that book were gorgeous!). In fact, I love her character and your drawings of her so much that I am going to be Jenna Heap for Halloween. And that is a big thing for me! My Halloween costume is ALWAYS ellaborate. Thanks for inspiring me!
-- I s i s

P.S. I adore the new Beetle drawing as well! I want to draw my own picture of him and Jenna together now. <3 But the only problem is that I can't draw very well...oh well. Stick figures work fine. x)

January 18, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterisis

That you are making a Halloween costume of Jenna thrills me no end, Isis. Now that's long-range-planning!

Mark Z.

January 23, 2010 | Registered CommenterMark Zug

Hey Mr. Zug!

I am so impressed with your drawings. They've given me a very clear picture of what I think the characters would look like. I have a question for you. Is there any character you really like to draw and if so, why? Is it easier to draw certain things than it is to draw others? Thanks for your time.

January 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCamilla

Hey Mr Zug. ( wow that's catchy ) :D
i love your drawings in the septimus heap series
i know your talented at drawing because when i tried drawing them they looked a mess but i'll keep trying.
I love the way you illustrated the magykal papers
thanks again for generally being a good artist

March 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlexandria

Camilla, if you are viewing this after randomly wandering back to this neglected thread, my apologies for being absent. But like a Tolkein character, though I wander I am never really gone. :) I saw your question, realized what a huge subject had ben broached, and filed it away for a little later. Little in tree time, that is.

Any time I need to draw a character, that personality has my complete devotion -- I "really like" drawing him or her no mattter who or what they are. Sometimes I imitate their voices, or make facial expressions or gestures I think characteristic of them. I'm wrapped up in that person while I draw. My favorites tend to be very beautiful women, or rugged-looking men; though as you can see from the Heap stories, I'm not penned in by my favorites. It's just that when I get to draw (for instance) Syrah, Skipper Fry, Milo Banda or Jenna, I'm eating extra chocolate cake.

As for some things being easier to draw than others, that's definitely true. The difficult subjects include: Architecture, for all the remorseless straight lines and perspective that must add up correctly; domesticated animals, because all viewers know what they look like, but it's easy for an artist to neglect studying them closely; vehicles; because they require all the rigor of architecture but must also look like they can move (vehicles are also a favorite of mine); and lastly and mostly, the human figure. Whether nude or clothed, if something is off about a figure, everyone can see it, and that ruins its personality, which in turn ruins his or her role in the story. The human figure is the most demanding and needs life-long study; you can never be *too good* at drawing it.

So I hope this little tid of bits has been worth your wait.

And Alexandria -- do keep trying. It's the only way!

Best wishes,

April 6, 2010 | Registered CommenterMark Zug

Now we need you to lend some of your magic to our little story called "Ravenwild." If only we could afford you for more than just the cover, we'd be as happy as a lamb. I'll just have to struggle with those inside illustrations myself; two down and eight to go. Have not heard from you in a while. Did you get the contract and check?


April 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMike

I do work occasionally for self-publishers, as the post from Mike attests. And yes, he has a little book called Ravenwild which I will decorate, and which I can now assume is no secret. Cat being out of the bag, let it also be known that Mike has the clearest of communication channels to me, and that I do not neglect my clients, but serve them lute songs and chilling ale.

April 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMark Zug

Hello Mr Zug, :)
I just have to say, all of your work is amazing! I am a big fan of the Septimus Heap books and with every chapter i couldn't take my eyes off of the illustrations. :L
I then looked upon this website and found that you painted too, i cannot believe how skilled you are at painting. I aspire to be half as good as you one day. Do you by any chance have any tips on painting or materials or anything really? It would be much appreciated. :) Thank you for being such a good artist and for inspiring me. :D

June 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAbby

hi mark, your drawings are great but no offence i can do a bit better. i really can. come to Canada and compare anyone who disagrees. im not just trying to brag i promise. anyways, the septimus drawing of the projection in Queste was so good. my favourite pic.

June 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterviniti

Abby, I'm sorry that I don't have a tutorial book covering my technique, nor the space to treat the subject here. It's not complicated to learn though, because my oil painting technique is "classical" -- that is to say, its methods are tried-and-true over centuries and are well known. Many art books cover classical oil technique; "underpainting," "fat over lean," "broken color" are a few terms to look for. They describe the best ways of applying oil paint to render a scene with realism.

Painting is built upon drawing, though -- and you must own the basics of rendering bulk, shadow, and perspective in black and white, if you want to create a decent color image. I didn't get serious about painting until I was 25 -- but by then I was thoroughly familiar with the discipline of drawing. I'm not advising that anyone else wait that long, I just mean that drawing skill is crucial, and that extra time spent drawing is never wasted.

Here, then, are a couple brief tips about oil painting that I wish I'd known at the very start:

Odorless solvent and linseed oil, are all the mediums you will ever need.

Brushes can be dry.

Gessoed paper is a great ground to work on.

Happy painting to you, Abby, and to all.

June 16, 2010 | Registered CommenterMark Zug

Do you put your signature in all the sketches? I've tried to find it and I think I have in some of them.

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLucy

Hello Mark Zug.
Wow, I love your work, i can almost draw the characters the same though not to the same extent... How do you draw them? mine end up looking a bit more like manga :(
Um, and my drawing of Spit Fyre looks a bit like a whale lol. How do you draw them like that?!?!?
please could you give me some sort of description on how to draw them?

October 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPenolope Sanchez`

Thank you for responding to my quesiton above. It means a lot to me. Just wondering, where do you usually place your signature in your Heap pictures? I can't always find it.

October 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCamilla


October 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterc

Dear Mr.Zug. When I saw your drawings in Septimus Heap for the first time I was fascinated. I have also seen a lot more from you here. Your work is really beautiful and I was wondering if you could re-draw something I made, your way...

October 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristine

Thank you for your curiosities, Lucy, Penelope, Christine, Camilla. I always put my signature on my paintings, but not necessarily on my drawings. The reason is -- though I've not thought about this much -- that I draw so much that it would feel really ridiculous to go signing everything. I'm just not in the habit. Sometimes I forget, sometimes it's a "spot" drawing (small on the page), without a lot of space for a signature. Often I've had to go back and put my cartouche on a drawing I've sold, just so it doesn't go out into the world unidentified. Someday somebody may steal the credit for my work and I'll regret this -- but until then I won't think it's all that important.

Penelope, I can't answer your question in a web post. There are some wonderful books on how to draw imaginary subject matter: dragons, creatures, characters. The best I know of is "Imaginative Realism" by James Gurney, which I can't recommend highly enough. At your local bookstore.

Christine: I think that if you can picture in your mind *your thing* drawn *my way,* you can eventually draw it that way yourself. With work, and with much joyful practice. And you may someday want to be paid a fair wage for drawing other people's things your way, all day long. As I am, as a rule. ;-)

Yours truly,
Mark Z

November 8, 2010 | Registered CommenterMark Zug

mr zug
omg i love your drawings. what r your favourite books?

March 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercarly

Hi Mr. Zug!

I just want to request a new and more mature drawing of Jenna. She's my favorite character! Also, I would want to see what Queen Cerys looks like. It would be great to see her finally appear in the series.

March 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHaruka

Dear Mr Zug.
I would like to say i love your drawings. when i read the books i spend more time looking at the pictures then reading............. one day at schoool i was looking at your drawings so long i read nothing.... my teacher started to yell at me but then she saw the drawing and spent her break looking at your drawings!

March 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSquirt

What a wonderful story, Squirt; I hope to be hearing from your teacher one day. I've always loved and favored illustrated books, and never grew out of it.

Touching on the question of my favorite books: All through my childhood my very favorite books were non-fiction books about dinosaurs and space travel. They were always illustrated, and gave me a look at a variety of painting and drawing styles. One book in particular featured dinosaurs in a wash-like style of thin brownish oil paint, where the brush bristles contributed to the textures of skin, teeth and horn. It stuck with me and I still use that style in every underpainting. Like most of these books, I got it from the library (this one a Japanese library), and I have no memory of either the title of the book or the name of the artist. I would have been under eight years old.

Libraries were key for me, and one book I remember checking out repeatedly was Across The Space Frontier, illustrated by Chesley Bonestell, co-authored by Werner Von Braun. The hours I spent pouring through Bonestell's grand view of the human future in space probably set my outlook for life.

The first fiction book I can remember singling out as "favorite" was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne -- I suppose I was about eleven. From that one I progressed to Verne's Master of the World, From the Earth to the Moon, and on to all the science fiction novels I could scavenge from the rotating softcover racks in the Lancaster County Public Library. In my young adult life some notable readerly enthusiasms have been: The ancient astronaut fancies of Erik Von Daniken, Tolkien's Lord of the Rings novels, Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, the novels of Ayn Rand, Victor Hugo's Toilers of the Sea, Ninety-Three and Les Miserables, and all the variegated works of Harlan Ellison.

Lately I've been re-discovering my love of Sherlockia via Laurie R. King's Mary Russell novels, which start with The Beekeeper's Apprentice and co-star the Great Detective in his later life. I've also been on an odyssey through Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, which consists of eight novels, all set in the time of Isaac Newton, which I can only describe as Science History Fiction -- they are breathtakingly vast and consumingly researched Novels of Ideas, as well as swashbuckling adventures.

In the realm of illustrated books, I love anything by James Gurney, who has been inspiring me longer than I've been making a living at this. The Scribner's N.C. Wyeth-illustrated editions of Treasure Island, The Scottish Chiefs (which inspired the movie Braveheart) and Last of the Mohicans have been getting honest wear in my studio for years, as have all the Frazetta collections including Icon and Legacy.

And to answer Haruka directly: Rejoice -- there is a more mature and very resolute Jenna coming in the next Septimus Heap book, Darke. The only Queen Cerys I've done is a figurehead of her, very small, on the prow of the Barquentine that bears her name in Syren, and on my Septimus Heap Places and Spaces page.

Thank you for all your kind comments, and for giving me the excuse for this discursive, diverting digression.

Mark Z

April 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMark Zug

dear mr Zug
would you recomend illustrating as a career choise........

June 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKat

Hullo, Mr. Zug,

Firstly I think you are one of the best illustrator ever! Especially in Septimus Heap!

I have a few questions: Do you have an account on DeviantART? Because I am an admin of the group honoring your art and Angie Sage's writing, and I was wondering if you can look at some of the art me and my fellow fans have posted? Here is the website: http://septimus-heap-lovers.deviantart.com/

Also do you chose what art you do for Septimus Heap or does Angie say "Can you do another Jenna?"

Finally I loove the new art for Darke XD

~ Your fan, Amelia

June 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmelia Rose

I love your illustrations so much. I'll happily read a book with no pictures, but when there is an illustration at The beginning of each chapter I love the book even more. My favorite illustration of yours is the one with Septimus snapping his fingers. Actually, that one is tied for first with the Nicko drawing. You inspired me to become an illustrator, just like Angie Sage (and other authors) inspired me to become an author. Thank you!

June 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRosie

Amelia, I'm absolutely thrilled with the Septimus Heap Lovers DeviantART site. My work is only honored by the loving imitations, as is Angie's work by the fresh, original envisionings. You and your crew have all the blessings and good wishes that are mine to bestow.

And thank you in turn, Rosie. Ideas enrich all, and are never depleted.

To answer Kat: I would recommend illustration as a career only to 0.01% of the general population. If what you want most to do is sit alone drawing, and to draw some more even though you are sucking, and to draw still more even though no one will see the work -- then you have the internal makeup to do it for a living. As many pieces as I've done over the course of my career, I've done many times that number that will never be shared, in the form of rough sketches, thumbnails, studies, and alternates that didn't make the grade. So illustration is not an efficient way to spend your time. But it is the only way, for a few.

July 5, 2011 | Registered CommenterMark Zug

Hi, I love your pictures, and wish that I could draw as good. But one thing bothers me a bit, in the picture of Marcia, you have painted her with brown hair. When the book repeatedly states that her hair is black. So I just wonder why?
Do not misunderstand me, I think your pictures are really nice but I can not stop thinking about her hair everytime I see that picture <3

July 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJulia

I was reading Darke and most of the time i an tell what the drawing at the beginning of the chapter is but after reading chapter 33 i was still wondering if the charcter was marcellus. i was wondering if you could clear this up as my cousion (who i lent my copy) has been telling me to pay up ( as we had a bet as to who would guess the most pictures right) even tho my friend says that im probaly right. so after a week of aruging Squirt ( my friend who was refingthe bet) told me to come here to ask you. o and our teacher says that you will hear from her when she gets her laptop fixed..

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKat

Julia, the explanation for Marcia's hair color in my color work for The Magykal Papers is a simple and futile one: For the the four books wherein I drew Marcia in black and white, I didn't have to consider the hue of Marcia's hair, only that it was dark. By the time I painted her, she had jelled into a real character in my mind, one with dark brown/auburn hair, for reasons impossible to track down. The few times Angie Sage actually cited "black hair," I had forgotten. Such is the mess that adds up to "artistic license," which I freely took, despite that I generally take the author's words as gospel. I truly hope she doesn't look out of character to you, which is the most important part.

Kat, I'm going to surmise, by a process of elimination, that the figure you are looking at is indeed the young Marcellus. As I drew one, but I haven't yet gotten my copies of the book. You'd be surprised how behind-the-times an artist can be about the finished product!

October 2, 2011 | Registered CommenterMark Zug

Hi MrZug,

I LOVE your drawings in the Septimus Heap books and I'm so glad that Angie Sage got such a great illustrator that does her great writing justice.
I'm amazed at the life-likeness of your drawings and the clothing of your characters look so real! Your illustrations are part of the reason I have the entire series :)
I love drawing too but they don't look anything like yours..;)
I was wondering how you managed to get so great at drawing...Were you at first like everyone else? And was it just hard work and determination that got you to the level you're at? Or is there some other tip you could give to us? :D

October 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCaitlyn

Hello Mr. Zug,

About six years ago I held the first part of the Septimus Heap-saga in my hands for the first time; it had been a Christmas present of my aunt's. I was immediately enchanted by the cover illustration as I love books that seem to be made out of a different material, with magical symbols and metal elements that keep the cover and the back of the book together. Those kind of books always tell a story without even opening them and without knowing the story you're about to discover.
I'm from Germany and often the cover illustrations are changed when the book is translated into another language. That the publisher adopted your illustration from the original version shows me one more time how very awesome your way of drawing is. Apart from the pictures at the beginning of each chapter I absolutely love the maps of the castle and the surrounding countries; they're so rich and detailed that you can just sit there and stare at those maps and every time you look at them you discover something new. Thank you for making the world of Septimus Heap so vivid!
Even though I could hardly imagine to find finer pictures than you're black-and-white drawings in the books I did find something: the coloured paintings on your website =) My favourite one is that of Septimus snapping his fingers although my favourite character is in fact Marcia. Concerning that I have a question: is there a coloured version of Marcia when she is standing (because I really like this picture from the books and I was wondering if it's possible to add it to your Heap-gallery)? And just like Caitlyn I'm very interested in how you learned to draw. Did you just tried until it worked out or are there any books (apart from Imaginative Realism) that you can recommend for beginners (for example how to draw faces and bodies)?
Wow, now this has become a much longer text than I initially wanted to write. But I hope you can understand that I'm absolutely inspired by your pictures and that I can't wait to hold the seventh Septimus Heap-book in my hands.
Keep on doing this great work and thanks again for fascinating so many people with your art!

October 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

One of my favorite parts of reading fantasy or science fiction stories has been to roam the settings of the worlds via the thoughtfully-drawn map. A map has to provide a rich environment without being daunting to the eye; it has to be rigorous without spoiling any plot points. That you find so much enjoyment in mine, Laura, makes me very happy. And to answer your question, I do not have any other color versions of Marcia other than the few inside The Magykal Papers, including the oil painting you cited.

Caitlyn, you and Laura both asked about how my learning to draw. My self-image as a drawer started at about age six. Although my drawings were probably not that much better than other those done by other kids, I imagined they were, and that pushed me into spending many hours doing it, honing a skill I more and more believed to be unique to myself. So there is an element of initially fooling oneself for the better, and of making a mountain out of a molehill -- but that is how anything tiny grows. It only began to feel like "hard work and determination" once I realized that there were lots of skilled young people besides myself, and I had to keep developing despite my not being so special. So: Initially you need a little talent, but ever so small an amount of it. Then you need to be self-centered enough to feel you have the right to practice that talent all the time. Then you need to keep taking pleasure in your work, despite the fact that you see other people doing better stuff than you. So my answer is: Yes. To everything.

About good books for the beginning drawer: A well-worn standby for me has been Jack Hamm's Drawing the Head and Figure. Complete and easy to understand. A little more advanced is Constructive Anatomy by George Bridgman -- more stylized, but no one had a better instinctual grasp on the human form than he. And back in print now after many years absent is the king of figure drawing books, Figure Drawing for All It's Worth, by Andrew Loomis. He delves deeply into the theory of creating pictures using the human form, as well as demonstrating all possible techniques. Less vast, but still excellent is Andrew Loomis' Drawing the Head and Hands. Lastly, www.drawingbooks.org has some valuable public domain books in web form that you might not be able to find elsewhere.

Many thanks,
Mark Z

October 10, 2011 | Registered CommenterMark Zug

I love your work, Mark. Especially in Magyk and Flyte. (Marcia is my favorite) I do hope it was Marcia you drew once in Flyte, I rather like her. Pointy snake shoes!

June 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSib

mr.zug, i enjoy looking at all you pictures in the Septimus Heap series but one thing I say is that Marcia looks like a serpentine lady from another book i have read did you do that in purpose or just you know paint what you had in mind from angie described her as or something like that and my mom loves your work too too bad she has another job but all she does is bring with her an book of septimus heap and looks for you signature in the pictures I hope that you will have an awesome time and I hope you arent paid too little for all your awesome work

August 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbryson tenney

Hmmm... Bryson, since I can't imagine who the other "serpentine lady" might be, I can safely say that Marcia was not directly inspired by any other single individual. Like most every other character, she was assembled in bits and pieces from my mental and physical libraries. I feel sure I've seen her all animated and adamant in some movie or other, but I can't recall the particulars, and it probably wouldn't resemble Marcia even if I did succeed in remembering. This is how it usually works in art -- the individual models have faded in memory, but their abstract qualities linger in the head like ghosts, waiting for you to give them physical form once more.

August 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterMark Zug

Read the last book of Septimus the other day. It was amazing! The drawing of the last chapter, I don't know why, but it was PERFECT. The book would't be the same without your drawings. You've inspired me so much. I've copied lots of your drawings, and I became interested in art thanks to you :). The drawings of Sep make the characters seem so real... Great job!

May 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen Nerea

Thank you very much, Carmen. Copying helps you learn how it's done. Your compliment on the last drawing in the book is very welcome, as that one was hard to get right. I did two previous versions, a somewhat different view, which both Angie Sage and Katherine Tegen weren't quite happy with. Then I did the one you see. And to hear that for someone, it was "perfect," is wonderful.

Best wishes,
Mark Z

May 19, 2013 | Registered CommenterMark Zug

I love your work especially the picture of the Wisard Tower and the one of Jenna in her witch cloak. Please send me an e-mail my address is cubby.igel@gmail.com thanks for all your hard work drawling things for Septimus Heap.

July 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMr.Zug

Mark Zug
I'm a HUGE fan of your work. When I started reading this series, (BTW I LOVE!) I thought: Wow, This mark guy is awesome! Any way You are an amazing artist and I just can't wait to see what you come up with next! too bad Fyre was the last book. =-[

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEmma H.

Thank you, Emma. If you are downhearted about the end of the Heap world, don't be – because Angie Sage's new trilogy TodHunter Moon is set in that same world. And yes, I am illustrating it!

And thank you, Cubby. I like the Wizard Tower as well, though the greatest fun I had with that building is the picture of the Tower's construction, in The Magykal Papers.

~ Mark Z

December 29, 2013 | Registered CommenterMark Zug