Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Skateboard Cover

I finally got approval on the thumbnails I sent in so it's been a busy day of sitting down at the drawing board and doing the pencils sketches for the interior of the newest kids book.

The good news is that I got all the covers done already for the four books I am now working on. So, that part is out of the way and I already know what the main characters look like.

The bad part of doing the covers first is that sometimes, once I read the manuscript the covers are for, I wish I could go back and change little things here and there.

I usually prefer to read the story first, draw the interiors, and then do the cover last. I feel like I get to know the character as I draw the interior and then, when I do the cover, I can do my best version of him. It's hard to sometimes figure a character out from a description as simple as, "a 14 year old Asian boy rides a skateboard in a skate park."

But, I also understand the business of publishing and the need for the covers to be done way ahead of time for promotion and catalog placement. Still, it's not easy on the creative process.

On this round of books I was told, after doing over 50 previous books, that the new covers would be using photos of kids for the covers while I would be doing artwork for only the backgrounds. I thought that was an interesting concept and looked forward to designing characters based on photos already being used for the covers.

So I was surprised when I was first contacted by my art director and told they needed an illustration of the main character AS WELL AS me drawing the backgrounds. Of course this came after I had signed the contracts so I felt more than a little bamboozled. But I wanted to give them the new look they were asking for as well as not kill myself doing double the work on the covers.

So, I looked into taking photos like I usually do for the backgrounds of these books and, using a little Photoshop wizardry, make them a bit more illustrated looking and pushing the book's look in a new direction.

For this cover I headed down to the local skate park and snapped a few shots as the guys around me dropped in on their boards and did a few tricks. Choosing the one I thought worked best with the illustration I did, I kicked it into Photoshop, messed around a bit, added a lot of textures and toothbrush splatter and came out with the piece you see above.

Honestly, I think it turned out great and made the whole piece look like something out of a manga comic book. I loved it!

There were a few changes requested but I'm always happy to do those. I want to make everyone happy and make the best illustration I can for my client. Some simple changes like flopping the motion lines to fall behind the character and changing the characters helmet to a different style were pretty easy.

I even sent the art in with a comp showing how I thought the title and type could lay over the piece.

So, when I got this piece back showing me the client's thoughts for the cover layout and a few color changes they were going to make themselves I was a little shocked.

I know I do this for as a job and for a paycheck and I'm being paid to draw what my client's want but this...this I had no words for. I told the client as much and was assured it would look better once it sees print.

But, right now, I have no idea how these are going to turn out.

We shall see what happens.

But seeing this definitely changed the approach I took to the next three covers...