When I was little, every few weekends we would pack our bookbags with our dolls and stuffed animals and go spend the weekend at my grandmother’s house. Among the many lovely things to do there was an absolutely fascinating book with imaginative realism illustrations – The Ship That Sailed to Mars by William Timlin.
We pored over the illustrations. My mother read The Lord of the Rings over and over to us before school and rereading the book now, I can see that much of my mental imagery for that came from The Ship That Sailed to Mars. In my mind’s eye, Smog, the dragon in The Hobbit, looks like Timlin’s dragon. So does much of the architecture.
Here is Arwen Evenstar (really the Princess of Mars):
My sister and I copied the pictures and tried to make our own in the same style. This book is part of why I learned to draw. It greatly influenced my sense of design. It was great fun to reread it now that I can paint.
The whole book can be found online here: https://web.archive.org/web/20091027084355/http://geocities.com/anaiselise2nd/sec01.html Go check it out!