Friday, 13 December 2013

Book Cover Process

An acquaintance of mine recently commissioned me to illustrate the cover to a book he's working on with the intent to self publish. After reading the manuscript I was wanting in on the project. I wasn't sure  when I was going to do it as I have a few design jobs on which will take me through to January 2014. So I decided to stop procrastinating and just get on and do it in the time I had, usually late into the night.

I had an idea of how I wanted the cover to look, Cat with hamster, vampire and a misty graveyard in the back ground, all elements from the story. After discussing this with Tony I started doodling. Not necessarily what I should have been doodling, more just getting into the character and atmosphere of the cover. Typical fashion I got hung up on the minor character of the vampire in the distance.

Having spent most of the year drawing buildings and semi-autobiographical Wakefield stuff I wanted to try out something different. I hadn't drawn in pencil for awhile so thought I would give that a go, adding colour with Photoshop afterwards. I liked the result but there was something not quite right about it for a children's book cover, although atmospheric it looked and felt a bit muddy. 

I continued with the 'pencilling', not wanting to get too caught up in the process at this point. I reasoned that if I didn't use these sketches as the actual drawing then I could use them as the under drawings and ink over the top of them. I wasn't happy with the human vampire design and decided to make him a more vague figure.

I drew a logo too...

I scanned all these sketchy bits into Photoshop, enlarging the pencil sketches and resizing them to get the composition I wanted. I emailed the composition to Tony the author, we had a discussion about the logo and decided the hand drawn one wasn't right. Also Bernard's expression had to change. Tony wanted him looking out more towards the viewer and not down at his potential victim, the hamster.

I regigged bits and while I was waiting for a reply I stated drawing over the sketches digitally, inking in the stone angel on the back. More for my own amusement, the more time I spent on it the more I liked drawing with the Wacom tablet.

I dropped a texture over the digitally inked lines and knew this was the way I wanted to go with the whole cover. I changed some of the design for the cemetery using reference photographs I'd taken from the local Belle Vue Cemetary. It gave the image a bit more reality.

Fairly certain that the back cover was going okay I made a start on the characters for the front cover. At this point I should point out that I purchased the Frenden brush set. I am familiar with adjusting brush presets in Photoshop but was interested to see how far others have pushed it. The brushes are great and make it easier to work with Photoshop as an inking tool. More on this at a later date, meanwhile...

Tony and I had agreed on the Vampire Cat expression and I was digitally inking over the scanned in pencil sketches. Using ref from the internet to get a cat like quality into my drawing. I am using Photoshop CS5 which has a rotate canvas function (r), this is great if you like cross-hatching. Come to think of it I don't see much digital cross hatching on that thar internet these days. I am out of vogue, which is good right?

When all the pieces were inked and coloured I brought them all together onto one page. Starting to build up the texture and details using brushes and photographic textures. Some are turned down to 10% opacity but I know they are in there

Bits are erased and dropped into the mix giving a subtle indication. This was another photo of Belle Vue Cemetery I had taken a few weeks ago at night as an experiment in long exposure. I go through there a lot on my way to and from town.

Finally, the logo and text is brought in to complete the design...

Artwork ©John Welding 2013
Bernard, The Vampire Cat Story and Concept © Antony Bowers Smith 2013