Sunday, May 6, 2007


JAMES - Another Bold Life cover, this month, the lead story was a local improv comedy troupe. i actually went along to the photo shoot so i could meet everyone, get a sense of what they're about, and hopefully get some ideas. and in hindsight, i guess that was helpful in coming up with something. the biggest thing this month tho, was that i felt last month's cover was so strong, that i really had to beat it somehow. i don't necessarily feel that it did, and i was even pretty down about it when handing it in (again, i was under the gun - had only a few days for everything). everyone loved it tho, and once i saw it printed, i must admit it's a pretty strong cover.
again, i started with some thumbnails. given the subject matter, and the heavy deadline, there wasn't much room to take advantage of different styles. right away i figured it would have an 'archie comics' kind of vibe/composition with a 'james flames' illustration style. i offered to try different styles for thumnails if they (the publishers) wanted, but they were happy with these and ultimately chose the second one. personally, my choice would have been the first one - 'physical grafitti' - i thought that was the strongest and most original idea. but i can't disagree with the immediate impact of the chosen sketch.
so, on to pencils. i started sketching on usual 14x17 bristol, and ran out of room really quickly. so i did a quick ink-up with markers to feel out my darks and line-weights, then i traced it onto a 19x24 sheet and filled in the hands and everything else. at first, the pie 'splatt' was a part of the drawing, and there was no face in the middle, but i had a hard time conveying the fact that what was behind the muck of the pie was a head. so i decided to just draw the face (dean martin?) and add the pie splatt later - i drew that part on tracing paper and scanned it separately.
the inks were done straight on those pencils - no time for another lightbox job. all #3 brush with "black star" ink (maybe some marker for touchups, but i don't remember any). the inks were scanned as three separate pieces - the three comedians, the clapping hands, and the pie splatt. in the above mock-up, i wanted to test how the pie 'splatt' experiment was going to work, allowing enough of the face to show through the pie that you get the expression and impact.
then, onto some photoshop coloring. i keep referring to what you told me, tom, when those folks saw your color work and commented how the colors don't match the ink style. i wanted some effects, but i didn't want to go overboard. i finally decided on a color scheme (i had none all the way through to this stage) - greens and yellows on purple. i wound up putting a little transparency and blur on the guy in the back to set him further away, and i darkened the audience clapping hands, since there aren't usually lights on the audience, and also i knew the text would have to go there, and i didn't want the graphics to compete with the words. at the very last minute (literally 3am on the day we sent it in to press) they decided on the captions and i settled on a font and style. whew! talk about down to the wire. next month we're thinking of doing a little collaboration piece - incorporating photo and illustration into one (hopefully) seemless design. fun!


thomas pitilli said...

I like it cause it's fun and bright and does what a cover is supposed to do, which is stand out and jump off the shelf. looking at the thumbnails, i probly wouldn't have chose that one, but you made it work. Also, did u use refrence for the hands 'cause there lookin good. Do something shitty already, so i don't have to sound like such a fanboy!

H. Stewart said...

I liked the first thumbnail the best, too. This is a good cover, I won't deny it, but not the best you've done. (I understand the constraints of a deadline and all.)

I think the composition is a little awkward (the front-and-centering of the smashed pie I mean); at first glance, it's a little difficult to tell what's happening, like your marker exploded or something. But once you examine it, it's a good drawing, energetic/implies a lot of action and I bet captures the troupe pretty well.

Sorry my opinions are always so awkwardly worded...I'm not an art critic after all. Would you prefer I just keep quiet? :)