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The Guards of Auck — Novel Cover

A few weeks ago, Carrie Bailey (a friend from high school whom I hadn’t talked to in . . . . well, since high school), e-mailed me to say that she loved the drawings I was posting.  She also had a request — would I like to do the art for the cover of the young adult “fantasy” novel she was writing?

Of course I said yes.  YA Fantasy just might be my favorite genre in the entire world.  We’ve been e-mailing back and forth, and I’ve been having a lot of fun working on the sketches for the cover.  Between working with Ben on the comic and now Carrie on this cover, I find that I really love collaborating with bringing someone else’s ideas to life visually.  The cover isn’t done yet, but since I think I’ve got the final concept done, I thought I’d share the process and where I am now.  Carrie’s still finishing off the book, but also has a website devoted to writing, Peevish Penman.  Go check out her site, and enjoy the sketches.

1. Initial Concept.

I started with a concept sketch that Carrie sent me, as well as her summary of the concept of the book: post-apocalyptic bronze age New Zealand.  The key elements were in place — medieval-ish alley, a large cat, and the character, Eron.

2. First Sketch

Working with the main elements, I pretty much just redrew the picture Carrie sent me.  I found some source pictures to help with the setting and the cat.  After doing very rough layout sketches, I redrew the background, cat, and character all on their own layers.

3. Revised Draft

Carrie really liked the city I’d drawn, so I was on the right path.  I felt the scene was bit static, however, so I hid the cat and Eron layers and redrew them.  From Carrie’s description, the cat isn’t “bad” per se, but the cover needed some sort of conflict, some drama to draw in the reader.  The cat now has some forward movement and a hint of threat.  Eron is moving as well, perhaps startled, perhaps about to flee.  I like him looking away from the viewer, as I prefer YA novels not to tell me exactly how the hero should look with a picture; no matter how detailed the writer describes them, a reader always creates their own picture of the hero, and I think the cover should leave room for that.

Carrie had suggested blue and orange for a contrasting color scheme, so I threw some colors in to see how it worked, keeping with blue tones for the background and orange tones for the characters and font.  I think the contrast works really well, and the oranges tie Eron to the cat and the title and looks nicely unified.

Anyway, there we are.  I need to ink everything and then do some real coloring, probably adding some more detail along the way.  When I’ve got another draft, I’ll post it.


3 responses

  1. Might want to switch the A and U in Guards 🙂 Ah, just like old times!

    September 5, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    • Chris Van Dyke

      And add a “c” in “Auck.” I keep they types for all my friends who love to proof-read. What would you all do without the people like me in your life?

      September 6, 2012 at 1:07 am

  2. With spelling, I think it’s the intent that counts more than the actual outcome :).

    September 12, 2012 at 3:40 am

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