The Making of a Batman Cover

I finally get to announce what I have been working on since Amethyst ended.  Since April, I have been writing, penciling and inking a 30 page Legends of the Dark Knight story.  This is my first attempt at a straight up Batman story.  It’s not the first time I have drawn the Dark Knight but it is the first Batman solo story I have ever drawn and I got to write it too!  The story premieres digitally on September 5th so it is still too early to show any of the interior work but I can reveal and break down my cover process.

There was really nothing unusual or different about executing this cover than any other that I have done except I did feel a bit of pressure seeing how it was a Batman cover.  It was a little like the first Wonder Woman cover I did.  Working on one of the Big 3 always makes me take extra care.

Let’s start by looking at my three cover sketches.  Any time I have a cover with a lot of black on it, I like to do the sketches in ink so the visual impact of the black placement  can be clearly understood (visually speaking).


I was torn on this one.  I liked “A” because of the inclusion of the classic Batman villains but I thought “C” was the most dynamic and interesting.  My editor chose “A” probably because “B” and “C” showed a defeated Batman (although that is pure speculation on my part).  If I had to choose one, I probably would have gone with C but I was more than happy to take “A” to finish. (Shortly after I posted this blog my editor, Hank Kanalz, facebooked me with his reasoning for choosing cover sketch “A” He stated, “I chose “A” because of the villains AND we don’t reveal who Batman is going to face next!  But also adding the extreme foreground fist heightened the drama.”)  Excellent editorial insight that we are not always privy to.  Thanks, Hank!

The next obvious step was to do an 11X17 pencil.  As is the case with most of my covers, I drew a pretty tight pencil on 20 lb paper and then light tabled it on to DC board with some adjustments to get my final pencil.


Once I was happy with the final pencil I inked it using a combination of brush and micron pens.


I used cross-hatching on the shadow on the back wall as well as the shadow on the ground instead of solid black.  Although cross-hatching is a somewhat laborious process, I didn’t want the foreground hand (which is mostly black) to get lost in the shadow, which would have happened if I had made the shadow black.  I opted not to carry the cross-hatching over the top of the fallen villains who are also covered by the same shadow because I reasoned I could do that in the coloring.  Here’s how it came out.


I think the overall effect worked out the way I thought it would, hopefully you will agree.  If not keep your opinion to yourself! (kidding, sort of…..) I colored everything normally in photoshop and then dropped a 30% blue over everything that was covered in shadow to create the effect.  It will be interesting to see how it looks when printed.  That can always be an adventure.

6 thoughts on “The Making of a Batman Cover

  1. Aaron, thank you for talking about this process. I thought all three covers had their strengths. Like you, I thought “C” was the best design, but I can understand if your editors did not want to show a defeated Dark Knight. I think it was nice to see a different view on him. The editors may have chosen “A”, though strictly for the fact that you also included familiar villain’s faces. It might help to sell the book more.

    I was really impressed with the amount of work that goes into the coloring. I think it is easy to overlook all of the thought and consideration that helps to enhance the cover and make it just perfect. For you to do all that work, I hope that the powers in charge are taking care of you.

    Thank you for sharing this with us!

    • Thanks for reading, Kevin. If you take a look, I added a sentence about the actual reason the editor chose the one he did. He sent me a facebook message to explain his process so I posted it here.

  2. Wow – I didn’t realize you were getting to write it as well as draw it – That’s fantastic! I’ve officially moved from “Really looking forward to it” to “Can’t freaking wait” status. =)

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