I have been asked back by IDW to do the covers for the new TMNT mini series Turtles in Time! I've done 8 TMNT covers for IDW already and getting this assignment for 4 more is a real treat. The Ninja Turtles were some of my first comics, and what started my mind toward writing and drawing my own stories.
To the left is the finished cover for issue #1, where the turtles are in pre-history.
For today's post, I'll break down my process for creating the cover.
Sketches: I was given an era for each cover (though issue #3 has been changed a few times) and for the first, it was prehistoric times. With my earlier covers for IDW, each issue focused on a single character, this time, each cover would feature all 4. And what better way to get all four characters into a good prehistoric image than to have the guys riding a dinosaur! I went with a triceratops as a homage to the Triceratons of the turtle's futures. I tried to get something about each turtles personality in each of their poses and reaction to being in the age of dinosaurs.
I assembled my rough sketches in photoshop in a cover-template. This allowed me to resize and reposition everyone so the overall layout worked without having to draw it all in one-shot. As I mentioned before, each turtle's personality is shown in their pose: Mike: I see as the fun guy who lightens the mood and rolls with the situation because he has to...and in this he's grabbing on and going for the ride. Raph is aggressively charging forward, weapons ready, about to take the triceratops by the horns if need be. Leo is the only one facing the actual danger (the meteors that ultimately may have caused dino-extinction) and is keeping the family together by gripping Don, who is such a logical and concrete thinker, is loosing his mind over the unrealness of where they are.
I printed out the above digital composite and taped it to the back of a sheet of 11" x 17" Strathmore 300 series bristol. I placed the bristol and taped layout on my lightbox and used the printed image as a guide to ink the piece on the bristol surface. To ink, I use Copic Multiliners, the 0.7 and 0.35 nibs for this one, and a brush with a bottle of ink for the fills. I was on the fence about the black silhouette ferns in the foreground and thought I'd gone too far with that look when I finished the piece, but my wife Julia said she liked it and to try coloring it as-is and only make changes if the colors weren't working (smart lady!).
So I went ahead and scanned my inked piece into photoshop (I use an old version for photoshop 7.0...pre-CS) This stage is all about filling in the various ares with their colors...establishing what areas are turtle skin, what areas are dino skin, etc. Because this is not a stage where I'm worried about the shading, I'm only making spaces of flat color, this step is called the flatting stage. I saved this image after I had tweaked the palette closer to what I thought I'd use, but my initial version of the flat colors had the turtles with a brighter green, the dinosaur grey and the sky blue-green. What colors I started with is unimportant when flatting. Once the color areas are all established, it's easy to quickly change the colors of any piece of the image.
The last step was the final rendering and adding special effect color-holds. Here is another look at the final cover:
Other TMNT in Time Cover Process Posts:
Emerald City Comic Con: March 28-30
C2E2: April 25-27
Motor City Comic Con: May 16-18
Comicpalooza: May 23-25
Phoenix Comic Con: June 5-8
Heroes Con: June 20-22
San Diego Comic Con: July 23-27
Boston Comic Con: August 8-10
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept. 5-7
NY Comic Con: Oct. 9-12