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.
Anyone out there been waiting for a dragon? Here’s a dragon. (Oops. I meant to set this up to publish in a few hours. So if you’re reading this before 3 am 8/31, come back in a few hours and the comic will be there.)
Hrm. It seems we haven’t posted any sketches, drawings, or random ideas since page 7 went online Tuesday. Sorry about that. To assuage your disappointment, go read page 8, which is online now.
Since getting my Bamboo Tablet in April, I’ve pretty much done all my drawing digitally. Everything I’ve posted here has been drawn on the tablet, and I’m amazed at how it really is like sketching on paper. However, I can’t whip out my tablet and laptop everywhere. Since I’ve got all these ideas I’m working on for our comic, I’m also carrying around a small sketchbook that I can use on the bus or when waiting for a train.
I’m spending tonight getting a start on “Voyages,” but here are some scans from my sketchbook. Some of them you might recognize as the first sketches of pictures that have already been posted here, and some of them you might be seeing in the next few months as they make their way into our next story. Most of them won’t go any further than this, but that’s a sketch book for you.
Posted this last week as a sketch. Before bed I wanted something to do to relax, so I inked and colored it. Ben and I haven’t discussed it, but I’ve been thinking of “Voyages” in terms of color the entire time. (Ben? Thoughts?) so I’m trying out some styles of coloring to see what I like.