Pals and Legends of the Guard Vol 2 contributors Nick Tapalansky and Alex Eckman-Lawn have a new ongoing comic coming out in October from Th3rd World publishing called THANATOS DIVER. They asked me to contribute a variant cover for issue 1 (I believe Jeremy Bastian is also doing a variant for this series). And so this week I'll be sharing my cover and a few steps of the process to get the final product.
Thanatos Diver is about a young woman who is an underwater salvager in her mini submarine around the island she lives on...and it leads to underwater and island hopping adventures, which may or may not involve the mysterious Thanatos Diver himself.
Alex's designs for this comic are a bit different than his past work. He's doing something more colorful, more all-ages, and more animated in style. Obviously I'd need to reference his concepts for the Submarine, but I didn't know quite how to approach drawing the main character. I don't draw young women very often, so I don't have a go-to style for doing that. And I didn't just want to copy what Alex was doing with her. So I opted to take the spirit of the design (all-ages, anime-like, playful) and work with my interpretation of that. (I've covered the topic of how I approach drawing other people's characters in two past blogposts Part 1 & Part 2)
Here is my rough/pencils for the piece. I drew the sub, the main character Sam, and the background (complete with glowy ring) all on separate pieces of copy paper and then assembled them in photoshop. I quickly added temp colors and effects so I could get a better idea of how I needed to ink the final piece keeping in mind those effects and potential color-holds. In my original sketches here I had a heads-up display view screen of her salvaging rival. I also left the sea floor debris to add in the end. I was going to play with the printed out version of this for how much junk to add and/or if I needed fish & crabs to populate the cover as well.
This digital composite of my sketches was then printed out so I could start the inking.
I taped that printout to the back of a sheet of Strathmore birstol. On my lightbox, I was able to ink the piece using the printout as a guide instead of redrawing it or using any pencil on my bristol surface (though I did rough out some of the sea junk in pencil as I went. I tried to add some of my sense of detail to the ship (rivets, vents, joints, etc.) but not too much, since I didn't want it to stylistically look too dissimilar from Sam. I was able to push the background elements though. With Mouse Guard I find that I can streamline and simplify the characters and action, but the more realistically I render/design the environments the more believable the characters are. I applied the same logic here, giving the sub and sam a sense of movement and whimsy, but grounding their adventure in a real-ish place.
Here again is the finished cover art. A lot of the color design work was done for me in the comic, so I just needed to apply it to my work and make subtle shifts so it worked as a cohesive piece. This cover is a bit special effects heavy compared to other covers of mine. I added color holds and effects to make the glowy-ring look like something, to the headlights to not just make the lamps glow, but simulate the beams they throw underwater, and to the glass bubble to make Sam look like she's inside her craft, and to the bubble stream to soften them up and make them look like sea-froth.
Look for my cover on Issue 1 of Thanatos Diver in November
Lucca Comics & Games (Italy): Oct. 31-Nov. 2
2015 appearances to be announced shortly