Zeman's artistic media include pencil, coloured pencil and watercolours on paper. Various warm and earth-toned colours are used effectively at the beginning of the book to depict aspects of the landscape, the people's clothing and the presence of the sun. She skillfully changes the lighting in the illustrations to communicate meaning. The colour black is used extensively in Zeman's artwork – at times communicating the unknown, such as when the world was beginning, and at other times, communicating fear, such as when the land becomes dark following the death of the raven. The black is highly saturated, which further symbolizes intensity and strength. Black is used extensively in the overall layout of the book as well. The artwork is framed by black borders both at the top and at the bottom of each page. However, each illustration, itself, is bordered by perforations, again communicating the film origin of the story. ...The colours of the perforations vary throughout the book, and each colour change is symbolic. For example, when the sun is shining, the perforations are light yellow, communicating warmth and sunlight, but when the raven is killed, the perforations become vibrant red, communicating blood, anger and danger at this point in the story. However, red is used again to colour the perforations at the end of the story, this time communicating something different to readers. Other symbolic details in the illustrations include the image of the sun being transformed to a skull when the ravens punish the humans for their actions. The beautifully rendered artwork is a visual delight and deserves careful viewing – I have discussed only a few aspects in this review, but readers are encouraged to further consider Zeman's use of colour, as well as line, space and perspective.
Interesting use of photographs in the first and last images brings this tale into present day.
Accomplished filmmaker, author, and illustrator Ludmila Zeman was born in the Czech Republic and has worked on major motion pictures early in her career. She created the award-winning "Lord of the Sky" for the National Film Board of Canada. In 1995, Ludmila received a Governor General’s Award for Illustration for her book, "The Last Quest of Gilgamesh."