Linkedin Article by Carol Hicks: Posted on www.linkedin.com
January 13, 2021
The author Carol Stout got in touch with me through the self-publishing website, Booklocker.com. She wanted cover art for her whimsical story, A Ring of Protection. It’s about how big brother Luke and his sister Molly use their intuition and courage to overcome mishaps and problems caused by the evil wizard, Morgan.
First, I read through the book and created a list of characters and their descriptions, as well as the settings in the story. The next step was to visit a local bookstore chain to see some book covers in the juvenile fantasy and adventure genre. The product or book placement was an important factor, so I observed which books were being highly promoted. My rough survey showed the current trend was like a Mission Impossible episode with lots of action, explosions, and suspicious characters.
Sketches are very important to my process. Sometimes I have a burst of insight into what a painting or product should look like. These sketches are often the most difficult to translate. Often I build the image using the most interesting and creative ideas I can find. This technique is similar to that presented in books like: The Art of Frozen by Charles Solomon and The Art of Kubo and the Two Strings by Emily Haynes. The images show concept art and how teams of artists interpret scenes and characters for feature animation. Not all the art is used, but the process is worth the final result. I also enjoy following the illustrator Yuko Shimizu on Instagram, where she posts pictures of her brainstorming sketches and then the final art.
I have worked from photographs and use them as resource material, and photos can be really tricky. What we accept in a photo often becomes awkward when used in a piece of art. That hand gesture or shadow on a face can suddenly take on new and weird aspect. My suggestion would be to edit photographs and only use the portions that make sense in your drawing.
I started this book cover project with A Ring of Protection by building various images. Here are line drawings saved as PDF files that I sent to the client early in the process. (link to PDF)
After some feedback from the author, I came up these with three sketches:
I encourage my clients to mix and match. Carol Stout liked the idea of the children running through the ring as well as putting the owl vignette on the back cover. 5.5 x 8.5 inches
Carol Stout was very happy with the outcome. Even though as a designer you might be tempted to dive right into the final art, I have had more success building images by using sketches and showing a variety of ideas to the client.