This year for Free Comic Book Day, BOOM! & Archaia will have a joint anthology publication featuring stories from all their various imprints. I was asked by my editor, Rebecca "Tay" Taylor, if I'd be willing to do the cover art! A daunting task to represent the full contents featuring 10 different stories/properties (including Mouse Guard). The cover to the left is the final publication art, but below I'm sharing the process for developing this cover.
Tay said the staff had been tossing ideas around for the cover concept (and how to show off all 10 stories). This year is a double celebration as it's both Mouse Guard and BOOM!'s 10th anniversaries, so a party theme with either cake & candles or balloons were suggested. Of those options I preferred the balloons. Each balloon would then have art from each story placed on it. I'd wrestled about showing Mouse Guard mice with balloons when it was a commission request, but I opted for floating paper lanterns in their place, so I did the same here. Below are the 2 variations I came up with, one featuring a close up of the mouse and jam-packing the rest of the cover with balloons...and the other a more illustrative scene. BOOM! chose the first, but I campaigned for the second and we ended up going with it in the end.
I printed out my layout of the cover and taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. I inked the piece on a lightbox using the printout as my pencil lines to follow. I gave a lot of texture and weight to the stairs partly because I knew I couldn't add much linework to the balloons since they were going to be filled with the art for the stories.
The color flats on this cover were fairly straightforward since I'd already made a lot of color choices in the rough I sent over to BOOM!
And the final rendering was done in Photoshop using the Dodge & Burn tools and a textured brush. To the left you can see the cover art without the other story art and logos.
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