Titanic, First Accounts
(Classics Deluxe Edition)
Fascinating firsthand accounts of the Titanic--in a deluxe package with gorgeous graphic cover art.
Historic firsthand accounts and testimonies by survivors and eye- witnesses including Lawrence Beesley, Margaret Brown, Archibald Gracie, Carlos F. Hurd and many more.
Read notes from artist Max Ellis on creating the Titanic: First Accounts cover
As I trained as a precision engineer it made it easier for me to follow the engineering drawings to create my illustration. It took over a month to complete and is without doubt the most complex and difficult images I have ever worked on. It was also one of the most rewarding.
Like any long term involved project, the more you discover the more there is to learn. I found myself going into quite unnecessary detail on areas that intrigued me, like the glass domes above the grand staircases. They were boxed by a housing. Was the housing attached to the dome framework? What insignia did the life boats carry? How much sense does James Cameron's Titanic make when you follow the path of the action whilst holding a 2-foot-wide printout of your illustration. All these questions and many more have I annoyed my family with over the past year!
Since completing this cover I have worked on an image of the current state of the ship for Diver magazine. (I have created over 130 wreck-tour illustrations) It's incredible to see how intact much of the vessel remains, although in two sections separated by 600 meters, with the stern section spun through 180 degrees.
You can easily understand the fascination with the myth and reality of the Titanic. For me the collision between opulence and the peak of industrial steam engineering still intrigues me. The cream of the world's richest and most powerful socialites reveling in the most extravagant and decadent surroundings, draped like a beautiful cape around the shoulders of one of the world's most powerful machines.
Here are a few details about how the various sections of the illustration where created. I have taken a creative route through the ship rather than a literal cross section. This shows of as many points of interest as I could get in. It was very hard to choose which sections to prioritize sometimes, and I would have loved to have shown more of the engine venting. However, I got as much in there as I could!
The coal rooms
The engines, boilers and coal rooms were probably my favorite part of the ship while I was working on it. I work for a UK dive magazine and have illustrated over 130 wrecks and often the only recognizable part of the ship will be the engines and boilers, around which are usually strewn piles of coal. Its not until you see the size of the boilers, and realize that there are rows of five of them you really get a scale for the Titanic. The coal bunkers were immense, running the entire width of the ship and some 30 feet high. They had to be this large to feed the hungry furnaces consuming 825 tons of coal per day. It took 24 hours to store the 6300 tons of coal before her maiden voyage.
The squash court
The first class squash racquet court was reserved for first class passengers who were charged 2 shillings for an hour's play. There was very little information on the court, and I could find only a couple of dingy stills online. Luckily a helpful member of one of the several Titanic forums that helped me in my research for this image had found video of a movie of passengers playing in the court on Titanic's sister ship the RMS Olympic. Even then no drawings or reference exists of the parts of the court not visible in the recording or where the light sources were so I had to guestimate those bits. The other fact that was left to speculation was the construction of the floor of the court. It is in the bow section of the ship and sloped upward over its 30 foot length (All of these large liners had sloping decks up from the center section to give the ship stability) I decided it should have a false floor to give the players a level playing field.
Obviously Titanic's first class passengers had to bring their first class transport aboard ship, and Titanic was equipped with car storage space in the bow section. Cars where lowered down the number two hatch using the enormous electric cranes. It was a lot of fun going through the old photographs to find reference for the beautiful cars that went down with the ship. I wonder how intact they must be, protected as they are in the fairly intact bow section of the wreck.
The swimming pool
Another of my favorite parts of the ship. I had to piece my image of the baths together from several old black-and-white stills I found online. It seems somehow exotic to have a swimming pool below decks on a boat. I wonder how much the water slopped about in rough seas!
The dining room/ballroom with the stained glass windows
This is the first class smoke room, below the fourth stack. Again my image is pieced together from looking at black and white photographs. I imagined they would be cozy and warm, with lots of dark wood and moldings, glowing orange in lamp light. There appear to be sections of elegant stained glass or decorative panels and ornate pillars through this opulent living space where the gentlemen would retire to discuss the business of the day over a glass of fine port, smoking the finest Havana cigars.
The meat freezer
There was ample refrigerated storage on the orlop deck to supply the kitchens. 75,000 pounds of meat were taken on board for her maiden voyage.
The food storage rooms
Again, there's little photographic reference for the storage and I filled the many compartments with a massive amount of food needed to supply the 2,000 passengers. Including 15,000 bottles of mineral water, 40,000 eggs and 2.75 tons of tomatoes!
The rooms for the first class passengers with the four poster beds
Because of the huge number of rooms and the minimal reference available, I decided to create some standard beds, dressing tables and room furniture from the photographs I could find on line. I then created a variety of room designs, considering the layout of each one in relation to the entrance and exits of each cabin. I enjoyed lighting the rooms with the lamps and creating these plush apartments.
The steam pipes
Along with the engines, the huge steam and engine fume pipes were one of my favorite parts to research and build. I loved the fact that this huge beautiful vessel had these enormous spaces to allow it to breathe. The forward three funnels lead down to the boilers and vent the fumes through huge upside down pipes creating a tree of branching funnels. The fourth funnel actually carried no exhaust fumes and was included for aesthetic reasons, actually letting light down into the lower sections of the ship. It did, however, carry the waste gasses and smoke from the kitchens.
This was great fun to build. I loved seeing how the flues from the stoves joined the main vent. It was very hard to find the reference for this and took quite a while to get my head around how it all interlinked
The linen storage and drying rooms (a small room above the kitchen)
I liked the way it neatly slots on there above the kitchen flues. It must have been extremely warm up there, perfect for drying the tons of linen laundered each day.
"With its detailed stories from survivors of the disaster, Titanic, First Accounts is hugely engaging and adroitly debunks some of the event's great myths. ("Nearer, My God, to Thee" wasn't actually the last song played by the ship's band.) The eyewitness testimonies are equal parts illuminating and haunting, revealing intimate conversations with surviving passengers who didn't fully grasp the scope of the unfolding devastation until it was too late." — Entertainment Weekly