Prepping for the 2nd Watts Atelier Illustration bootcamp

It's the time we've been waiting for!!  *drumroll* Watts atelier Illustration bootcamp II. 

Instead of one of the predefined assignments I will be illustrating an imagined cover for Susanna Clarke's "Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell". I enjoyed the novel a lot and could think of many different parts that I would love to visualize.  

I want to attempt a montage type composition, including up to 5 characters. 

I want to depict the two English magicians Jonathan Strange and Gilbert Norrell looking into a bowl of water in an attempt to find and summon the raven king. Throughout the illustration i want to show hints of the raven king. Flocks of ravens. Perhaps a raven eye as described in the book. Signifying that they are to him smaller than that of a raven's eye an worth only a blink of attention.  

Behind them will be the unnamed malicious fairy that has enchanted many people surrounding the magicians without their knowing, including Strange's wife Arabella. She had been enchanted and stolen away into fairy. She will have a white and red rose on her mouth, signifying her enchantment and inability to speak of it to anyone.

Environment: A dark forest  in the fairy realm called "Lost hope". An ancient decaying wood encroaching on the human world. 

Mood: Contrasting dark and light. Dark fairy world inhabited with insanity vs Dry and scholarly English magicians

Time period/ Era: 1806, England is at war with Napoleon. 


Here are my rough thumbnails: 



1 . Really more of a character montage. 
2. Still not sure if I like this one. I  couldnt seem to figure out how to get a larger head to work into the illustration until I got to 9. 

3 and 6 are very similar. Showing the magicians looking into the water in search of the raven king. 

5. I do like the idea of a focus on one character, but not sure how to tie in the other characters. The dark bar is Jonathan when he was cursed by the fairy to live in darkness. 

8. Character in the background is a silhouette of the raven king, shapeshifting into a bird. Jonathan has the ability to travel through mirrors into fairy. Norrell is a dusty, cowardly magician spends more time reading and hoarding all books on and of magic. 

I also like where 9 is going. I'd love to focus a bit on the fairy and make him look more interesting.  He was only really described as "The man with the thistledown hair, with an emerald colored coat".  I want him to look less human. More ancient, clever, mysterious and ancient.