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Saturday, March 9, 2013

My Journey with Kai

Recently I have had the pleasure of doing some cover art for a friends books. As you should know by now, I like to draw. A few of my author friends have suggested that I do some cover art and I sort of dismissed it as I don't feel that I am that good.

A while back a friend was trying to find some coveart for her book Kai's Journey . The cover art it currently has just wasn't cutting it for them anymore. So she posted some drawings online that she had found and was hoping to use them for her book. Unfortunately she was having a difficult time getting in touch with the original artist and even at that she needed some changes to the art as it wasn't exactly what she was looking for. Trust me, authors are never pickier than when they are trying to find that perfect cover art. I know, I am terrible about the cover never being good enough. When I saw what she was looking at I thought, "hey, I can draw something like that"  So, I drew one.

This is what I came up with and she loved it. It had the elements she wanted in the cover. She did have some suggestions to make about color and a few details that needed to be added. I was happy to oblige, though I made no promises about the outcome.

This was the final product. The only part that I simply couldn't add without it looking terrible was a background. She was alright with that and said she could find a way to put the background in. She was thrilled, but probably no more than I. I had never done anything like this, it was a shot in the dark and I was so happy with the final product that I even let her pay me. (Trust me, I wasn't going to, but she can be a very, very insistent person.)

After all this, she came back to me and asked if I would do the cover for their second book, which is still in the production stages. I agreed and she gave me details. I didn't realize what I had gotten myself into. I have drawn people and people-like things, and the wolf in the first picture was hard enough, but the next one would be a full on DRAGON. Oh my lord in heaven, had I made the stupidest mistake of my life? It took me some trial and error but I finally came up with something. First I drew the character, then I drew the dragon, then I combined them. The whole time I had this little voice in my head telling me that it was terrible, awful, don't show it to her, and so on. But, I told that voice to shut up and pushed onward. If she didn't like it, then I would know what not to do.

 “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” 
― Thomas A. Edison

Fortunate for me, she liked my work. 

First the character. I had to take a model and then fix him to look more like the first cover art image. I couldn't have two different people as the same person. This isn't Bewitched. I did try to add a little age to him, not much, but enough to show the progression of the stories.

Next the Dragon. This dragon was supposed to incorporate elements of wolf into the features. Mostly what I did was in the mouth and eyes to bring out the lupine side. My hand was actually shaking at times working on this I was so worried that it would come out crummy.   

Then the blend. I had the darnedest time with this part. I don't have any fancy computer programs to help me with this, I don't exactly have that kind of money. So, I went with some old, old school programming. Scissors and glue. I tell you what, I sat with those scissors in front of me for half a hour clicking and clicking on them before I remembered that it required something called manual labor. Man, how did they survive in the olden days! Oh well, with some snipping, a touch of glue, I had my two images crossed over. 

The final product. Again with the old school software. This was done with colored pencils and artist wax. I learned a lot in just the coloring alone. My living room was a mess with all the tools I had out working through this. But, I must say I liked the outcome. Of course I am bias, blue is my absolute favorite color, thus it wasn't that hard to stare at it for so long. You might've noticed the absence of the fin/wing thing on its back. The author asked for that little change for the cover. Not a problem, it is her cover art after all.

Do I want to make a career as a cover artist....I am not sure that will ever happen. Will I do other covers as requested, probably. I do have limits, more than most artists, but if my simple skill is enough to please someone and help them achieve what they want, then I will do what I can. (making a little money isn't so bad either)  

1 comment:

  1. Great job! I know Wendy and Charles are delighted with your work.