Monday, September 21, 2015

Making a Cover: The Quill Pen

I recently finished a cover for a super awesome client of mine, Michelle Isenhoff, and I thought it would be fun to show my process in creating the art. Kind of a step by step. Although I don't have ALL the steps I think you'll get the gist of what exactly I do when I digitally paint art for a cover. Before I even start my first step I have to get a feel for the book. Most of the time I just get a couple short sections to read through or just a blurb. Because I don't have a lot of time to sit down a read a whole book this is what I prefer. Michelle decided to make it easy on me and she recorded the book so I could listen in audio--which made it easy for me to read the whole book while working on other things.  It was a win-win. Once I have read the material I start to brood over the book. I like to ponder it for several days and see if I can come up with a really cool image. Then comes step one: I come up with a sketch idea. For Michelle I came up with two and she selected which one she felt best fit the book and competed the most with her genre's market.

This is sketch option 1: (Remember these are rough sketches but you get a sense of the final outcome of the book with it).

Here is sketch option 2: (This is the one Michelle felt best fit for her book)

Next I did a finer sketch. Just adding in a few more details and fixing up some things. This gave Michelle some time to make a few changes in the preliminary stage. She asked that I add glasses to Micah (the MC in this story).

Next I paint. While I didn't manage to hold on to a layer of just the flat layers of paint my first step is to lay down all the colors I will use through the piece. After I lay down the basic colors I start with shadows then highlights. The whole purpose it to find three layers of light (a dark, medium, and light). This one here showcases the painting's back ground and also the main front image of the boy and girl without the final highlights.

Next the fun stuff happens. One of my clients calls this "the fairy dust". It's basically just a brighter layer of color but it does certainly add a magical element to the art.

Finally I add a little more color, definition, and detail and I have the final piece painted.

The final step is to add the typography and finish up the spine and back matter. In the end you have a super fun cover for a super cool middle-grade read.

About the book:
If you owned a pen that wrote the future, would you use it? What if the consequences spread like ripples in a pond? What if they raged out of control? What if the pen demanded blood?

Thirteen-year-old Micah has found such a pen. One that’s ensnared him in a curse dating back generations. One that’s devastated two families and now threatens his whole New England village. But how can Micah destroy the pen when it offers him his only chance at the future he dreams of?

Where to buy:


  1. Very impressive ����

  2. This is so cool, Mikey! I shared it, but I found it so late, most people already read it before me, lol.


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