Wraparound Cover for Seven Strange Stories

I was excited to be asked to create a one-page cover for Oliver Ho's upcoming comic anthology entitled, Seven Strange Stories, even though I had already illustrated a couple of the stories within. As we went back and forth with the designs, it evolved into a wraparound cover to allow for more elements from each story to be weaved in without feeling too congested. With most of the stories containing some supernatural theme my goal was to create an image that looked like a dark fairy tale but without being too extreme—just enough to suggest it. Because I am a huge fan of James Jean and his work often contains disparate components, I looked to his art for inspiration.

My Process on Getting Started

Despite looking at various Fables covers, I still didn't have a clear idea in mind. So, I jotted down some elements from each story that I wanted to draw and then started to sketch them out roughly onto a huge pad of newsprint. I tried not to worry about creating anything concrete but focus on loosening up and get a feel for what might be included on the cover. Sometimes just doodling whatever comes to mind or doing practice drawings will do the trick to keep from overthinking things. Oftentimes, I go into a bit of a trance and drawings begin to overlap because I don't want to turn the page. I'll often look back at my scribbles and an idea will come to me—not always for what I'm currently working on, mind you—but I can always use them for other projects. I liken it to staring at clouds or patterns where images would begin to form.

I sketched out some thumbnails from the ideas and sent the ones I liked best to Oliver. When he approved one I took it into Photoshop to further develop; I created a clean image using a pencil brush on a greyish-toned background that I would later paint over.

Colour Selection

Ah, colour selection. This one's always tough for me because, well, the paradox of choice, of course. :)

I decided that I want a limited palette because it's more efficient and creates a better balance. I went to paletton.com and selected a tetrad colour scheme of blues, greens and their complimentary oranges. I chose this combination to emphasize a slightly sinister theme with warmer tones to balance things out and suggest that things are not all doom and gloom. I also use white but not pure black and combine colours from my palette to create variations. When I was almost finished painting I tweaked some of the colours using a Levels Adjustment Layer.

Design Challenges

I had never created a wraparound cover before and there were a couple of things to consider including: 

  • Not having any important elements overlapping the spine. The spine width depends on the paper stock, the number of pages and binding style, so I worked this all out before painting.
  • I also had to consider the placement of the title, trade dress and promotional text while keeping an overall strong composition. I planned out roughly where all these items would go and made sure that they wouldn't obscure anything important in the art.

The book is still in production but it shouldn't be too much longer. When I have more information on its release, I will share details.

Update

The book is now available and can be purchased directly from Oliver Ho at  www.sevenstrangestories.com. You can also find the book at the Page & Panel: The TCAF Shop, Silver Snail, and Another Story Book Shop.

 

 

My Beloved Monster

As promised, below are a couple of teaser pages and a panel from a later page of Oliver Ho's comic, My Beloved Monster, minus the text. Oliver tells me that this story will be included in his anthology of monster stories he plans to publish soon.

This was a fun story to work on. It's about a man who can't seem to catch a break in his love life and a cat that reluctantly decides to play Cupid. I really enjoyed bringing out the characters' personalities on the page.


A Comic - My Beloved Monster

I'm pleased to be working with Oliver Ho again on another comic project. This time it involves a cat as one of the main characters in his story entitled, My Beloved Monster. It's a romance with a twist. Below is some concept art of the main characters: Darnell, Ella, the Cat; and some of the supporting cast, Susan, Hazel, Joan and David.

I'll admit that drawing comics generally doesn't come easy to me. It's a whole different set of skills to master: Panels, story flow, leading the eye from panel to panel, following the script, text bubbles, camera angles, inking, action, conveying emotion, and all those tiny little panels sometimes feels a little restrictive to me. I do think the Schoolism classes I've taken so far have made a huge difference because to me my drawings feel more confident and expressive which makes the layout step a much more enjoyable experience. I can't share anything else with you just yet but perhaps a page or two once it's complete. :)

 

 

Inktober 2015

Every year artists all over the world take up the challenge to draw something each day in October using traditional inks and I decided to take up that challenge because I felt that I had become too used to inking and painting digitally. Digital is great because if you make a mistake, just hit undo. You can also experiment with a piece until the cows come home. Having said that there is still something special about the tactile feel of the pen or brush on paper, having happy accidents and—in a good way—achieving a less perfect outcome with a traditional approach.  

While I didn't succeed in posting every day (life and other priorities got in the way) I was proud of myself for posting something most days. I don't think it was difficult coming up with an idea each day; the difficulty lay in deciding which one to proceed with. Some were a bit too ambitious to bring to life in one day to my satisfaction so I decided I would revisit them later without the pressures of a time limit.

I'll admit that inking is not really my strong suit. I did take a class on inking a while back but, as with anything, to become proficient you need a lot of practice. I took this opportunity to experiment with Pitt pens, Micron pens, Copic brushes and brush and nib with Indian Ink.

Below is what I felt were my favourite ideas/pieces from this exercise. I hope you enjoy them. :)

Schoolism - Gesture Drawing Week 4

I've been behind in posting for various reasons, one of which is because I have been working on some art projects. Having said that, I've delayed long enough and should finish up my assignment and move onto Week 5 for the next topic.

Week 4 was about space, or creating spacial depth in our gesture drawings. We were given 1-minute timed poses to draw but this time we were told to strengthen the feeling of space within the drawing. This could be as simple as moving a foot or leg back, an arm forward, etc. Midway through the exercise we were told to switch to our non-dominant hand and follow the same rules. I went a little over the 1-minute mark for almost all the poses but even more so with my right-handed drawings. To be honest, I was lucky if I had enough control to draw a head in that time let alone change up the pose!

We were also asked to do about 2 hours worth of cafe sketching using both the dominant and non-dominant hand. However, lucky me, I managed to catch the flu this time and I still needed more practice drawing cats, so I chose to draw...my cat. I did manage to sneak in a drawing of my hubby but my right-handed drawing looks nothing like him; I unintentionally made him look like a 12-year old. Teehee! :)

Schoolism - Gesture Drawing Week 2

This week we covered shapes where the goal was distillation or breaking things down to their essential forms. One of the assignments was to first sketch/paint out the basic shape for each pose from the provided video with each pose timed for 30 seconds. I used to think that 1‑minute poses were short but when each pose is such a short duration you find you have no choice but to get down to the bare essentials and quickly. We were to through the video again, quickly sketching out each pose but this time using the shapes we drew as a guide. Exaggeration or pushing the pose was encouraged; it's something I need to improve upon. This was a challenging exercise and really made me see things in a different way.

In the next exercise we had to find basic shapes using either 10 paintings or photos. I decided to use the same paintings and movies I posted from the previous week and, in some cases, I reconsidered some of my main lines of action.

For the last exercise, we were asked to do 2 hours of café sketching. Because I've been asked to work on a comic involving a cat as the main character, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and instead do cat sketching. I have to say that 30 seconds now seems like a luxury when trying to draw a very active pet.

My next post will be a little late because I'm taking some time off for the Toronto International Film Festival. 😁

Sabrina commission complete

Well, this one took a little longer than expected, circumstances not withstanding but she's finally finished. The client is happy and I'm looking forward to my next project.

Sabrina - step 3 - paint

Before getting too involved in the details, I've laid in some flat colour with which to show the client. I've added the pillow colour and flooring on different layers so that I can make quick changes should the need arise.