Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Take A Bow

JAMES - this month's Bold Life cover was a bit of a challenge in the fact that the cover story wasn't quite as exciting or dynamic as the past few. the story was on a local country singer, Carol Rifkin. so i set out to achieve two main tasks - 1) to try and have the likeness be as authentic as possible (thankfully i was given a series of head shots of Carol, taken by the publisher, which helped heavily), and 2) as always, to make the final image striking and appealing.
i also decided early on to make this a regular illustration - there wasn't much time to experiment with stuff like i have been recently (but i have some really fun experiments i'm working on for future covers).

i sent over some sketches - this time i gave them quick color treatments, which not only helped bring the sketches to life, but really made things easier a few days later when it was time to color the final illustration - i wasted no time with the final illustration when it was time to choose a color pallette, i just used the same ones from the sketch.
also, i don't usually do this, but when i sent the sketches, i actually lobbied for the first one. i just felt it was the strongest, and it felt the most natural when i was drawing it. and again, there really was almost no time this month, so i felt i would be able to knock that one out the fastest.

all in all, the pencils came together quickly - the body had a nice bend to it, i love drawing guitars and microphones (it's a Coles44), and i had alot of fun with the decorative boarder. i found a bunch of photos of old cowboy shirts designed by Nudie Cohn - the guy who designed shirts for everyone from Roy Rodgers and John Wayne to Hank Williams and Gram Parsons. i picked a few of the embroidered designs and interpreted them for the boarder of the cover.
the real road block was her face. it was such a specific angle, and getting a specific likeness at that angle for anyone is hard, because there's not enough facial features that are showing. the original sketch has the head exactly how i wanted it to be held, and as you can see the pencil version is an absolute abomination of that.

i got busy with my brush and ink, and went to town. didn't take too long to finish inking, and the boarder was done mostly with marker.
later that night i looked at it again, and realized i hated the way her face came out. so i drew another one on another sheet (just the face) and pasted it on top of the old face. i still didn't like it, so i got out my brush pen (which has a huge tip) and went over all the little detail lines with big bold strokes. i also realized the angle of the hat was wrong and the hand/arm wasn't right either. after alot of whiteout and some more touchups, i finally had something i was happy with.

as i said, the coloring was mad easy, since i already chose the colors during the sketching. coloring the intricate boarder took the longest (but was worth it), and the flowery pattern in the pink background was all done in photoshop. placed the logo, text, and final little touch-ups, and we're good to go.
the issue is out, and it printed perfectly (as opposed to last month), and i'm very happy with it. besides that, the Bold Life website is now officially online, and i must say it's pretty amazing (not just cuz i worked on it). check it - www.boldlife.com


thomas pitilli said...

Beautiful! I love the whole design of this one. The floral design that frames it is really nice, it definitely reminds me of those cowboy shirts. Great attention to detail regarding the microphone, and guitar. As always, your line work reminds me of a mix between Mike Allred and Charles Burns. Plus, how did you get that pattern in the background, it's really nice. Graphically, i think i might like this one better than the last.

james flames said...

wow, thanks. now that you mention it, i guess this is better than last month's (maybe it was too ambitious, tho it could lead to better stuff like it in the future).
and damn, Mike Allred and Charles Burns are probably the best ways to describe my inking approach - i'm glad that comes thru.

you should see the original - it's got glue and whiteout and a whole mess of stuff all over it - sloppy, sloppy. but you'd never know from the end result - god bless computers.
and god bless WACOM tablets, cuz that's how i got the yellow-ish pattern over the pink background. i just drew in really loose flowery things, then outlined them with a lighter shade, then made the whole thing mostly transparent, and THEN i put a little motion-blur on them, which i think really adds depth to it all.

H. Stewart said...

I like this one too, and I think the drawing looks better when uncluttered by the type etc. of the final cover. As Tom mentioned, the floral border is very nice and reminiscent of cowboy shirts...

From the sketches for alternate ideas, though, I think I like the one you went with the least...but it probably works the best as a cover I guess. God bless the wisdom of the Bold Life people.