Like I always say, “A new year deserves a new post” (actually this is the first time I’ve ever said that but now I will make it a tradition). Today (or this evening as it were), let’s take a closer look at how I put together the cover for Wonder Woman/Conan #5. Due to a deadline problem, I actually got to do the regular cover for this issue as opposed to the alternate cover which I have normally been doing. I’m not sure that really makes any difference in the big scheme of things but it could be the answer to a trivia question some day.
I got a late start of this cover because I was informed just a few days before it was due that I would need to step in and do the regular cover for this issue. I still managed to do a few cover sketches, however.
I could have easily gone with any of the three but “A” was chosen. It’s interesting in that I had just finished the cover art to #3 when I had to jump on to this. I didn’t really know what was happening in the issue other than a brief description. As it turns out, this cover ended up being a not very accurate depiction of the contents of the issue.
Interestingly enough, my alternate covers are much more accurate to the content of their given issues because they are not due 3 months prior to their release date like the regular covers (because of the solicitations catalogue). So I always have had the script in hand before drawing the alternate covers.
Side bar complete, let’s move on…
Here is the finished pencil art for the cover.
I knew the bird creatures would be covered in feathers, so I didn’t waste my time drawing them in. I just put them in during the inking process.
I felt (after the fact) that Conan’s nose was little to thick (or big) so I went in with a little white out to the right of the bridge to thin it. I also moved his right eye over just slightly in photoshop. It’s always interesting the things you “suddenly” see after you have scanned a piece and are looking at it close up on screen.
As usual, I had no clue what I was going to do with the background. It seems faster or easier sometimes to leave out the background but then that becomes a problem that has to be solved in the coloring stage.
I create masks in photoshop channels for almost every shape. That way if I want to change the color of Conan’s skin, I just go to the mask channel with the “magic wand”, activate the shape, go back into the CMYK channels and change the color. It is much easier than going in and re-lassoing a shape you want to color change.
For the background, I have discovered it is much easier to lay a color over the entire piece of artwork and then go in and lasso the foreground characters or elements (separately, of course) to establish their individual colors. Once all of the foreground (and mid-ground) elements have been colored, what is left is basically a background color mask. This background template has been created by process of elimination. Now, the background color can be easily changed and/or adjusted by “magic wanding” that remaining “template”. If I skip this step, I have to go in a “re-lasso” areas I have already lassoed (parts of the foreground elements) to create a background mask. Which is not very efficient.
Talk about a massive sidebar…
Back to this cover- I wanted to make the background seem like maybe a portal had opened up or a dimensional rift to allow the bird creatures in.
So I used a circular fade going from a very pale yellow to an aqua blue. I then used one of the brushes (at a very large size) to created the wavy cloud effect coming in with the bird creatures. I used the same color from the bird creature’s feathers in the cloud effects to establish some color harmony between the two. The pale yellow from the circular fade also shows up in the creatures’ flesh tones as well as the highlights on Wonder Woman and Conan’s skin.
For a cover that had to be turned around relatively quickly, I am pretty please with the results.
As always, thanks for checking out my blog. See you soon.