Papa Fairy and the Tiny Fairies of Angel Castle

One of my favourite aspects of working on Angel Castle is the amount of creative liberty the author, Rita Auricchio, afforded me when designing the characters. Since the book didn't go into painstaking detail to describe the look of the fairies, I was able to use their individual personalities as a guide in determining how they would look. This illustration, depicting the tiny fairies struggling to imagine the appearance of a human child, is the first illustration I did of the tiny fairies and their teacher, Papa Fairy.


Papa Fairy's design was the first and, in many ways, the easiest because Rita describes his appearance a bit more than the other fairies. I wanted to capture the slim pointy features, towering lankiness, and enormous eyes that she described, but used a robe heavily influenced by sci-fi and space opera fantasies.

I decided early on that the tiny fairies should wear flowers as hats and tried as much as I could to make some sort of sense or symbolism out of this, even if it was on a purely personal level. At one point, I had mistakenly read that begonias symbolise intelligence so Terrence, a fairy depicted as a bookish know-it-all, was depicted wearing a begonia. Initially, he was going to wear a thistle but this didn't translate well.

The maple leaf is believed to symbolise independent thinking and can also mean patience, so I used it as the tiara for the always inquisitive fairy Silky, who also wears a dress patterned in question marks and tights patterned in emphatic exclamation points. Shirley, a fairy who is always losing her temper and snapping at her peers, was drawn wearing a hat and shoulder pads of Venus flytraps.

I chose a dandelion for the soft and shy Britence more out of the feeling than any sort of symbolism. This was the same reason for using a lily to crown Starlet, a fairy who is sweet and sensitive but adores the spotlight. Crowning the mopey and constantly-depressed Grooch with an upside down rose, thorns out, was a much more obvious choice, further emphasised through the frowning storm cloud patterns on his shorts. Finally, the courageous, but a bit too helpful Skipence was designed wearing a sunflower because of his cheery disposition.

In this illustration, the tiny fairies have just met one another and are following their new leader, Papa Fairy, with a bit of hesitance and uncertainty down unfamiliar corridors of Angel Castle. I tried to make each illustration of the interior of Angel Castle colourful in different ways with different patterns so that each illustration would have its own particular mood.