CONAN cover for Dark Horse Presents

I don’t know what’s gotten into me lately but here I am writing my 3rd blog in 4 days.  I guess it’s either feast or famine so let’s enjoy the feast!  Last year around the end of May I wrote and penciled an 8-page Conan story for Dark Horse Comics here in Portland (Matt Banning handled the inking chores).   It will finally see print this month, almost a full year after I started and finished it.  Although I can’t show you any of the pages just yet, I can show you the cover and my steps in putting it together.

This was my first and only (so far) Conan story of my career and I wanted to make sure I put together a memorable cover.  I came up with a few cover sketches where I tried to incorporate an iconic shot of Conan and at the same time be true to the content of the story.  Here is what I submitted for editorial consideration.

ConanCvrAConanCvrCConanCvrB

I can’t say for certain which is my favorite.  I know “B” has the most action but Conan is also the smallest in it.  I might have leaned more toward “C” but was really happy to do any of them.

“B” was chosen and I took it to a finished pencil.

DHPConanCvrPencilsmall

I inked it with my new regular approach of using a brush along with some pen work.  I once asked Mike Ploog what he inked with and he said he used whatever was within reach.  At the time I found that answer incredulous but now I get it.  What matters is what it looks like when you’re done, not what tools you use to get there.

DHPConanCvrInk

 

After finishing up the rather detailed inking chores, I scanned it and colored it in photoshop.  I used my fall back basic orange/blue complimentary color scheme.  I had my wife help me flat the colors and then finished it up with my usual abundance of color layering.

I need to point out the background trees and vines were more modeled and rendered but the editors felt it wasn’t dark enough and that the characters didn’t separate enough from the background so I darkened it with a color fade which covered up most of the modeling work I did.  If I had to do it over again, I would go in and put some more detail into the background but then again, you’re supposed to be looking at the characters not the background.

DHPConanCvrfinal

How long until my next blog you may ask?  I have no idea.   Until then….