Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Beneath the Dark Crystal Variant Cover #2

My second variant cover for Archaia's new Dark Crystal series "Beneath the Dark Crystal" is the subject of this week's blogpost. Last month I shared the process for the first cover featuring UrZah the Ritual Guardian & skekZok the Ritual Mater. To the left you can see the finished cover art with UrSol the Canter & skekSil the Chamberlain.

Below I will go through step-by-step the process for creating the cover art.

Using reference provided by Henson as well as the art book "The World of the Dark Crystal" by Brian Froud, I started by drawing the profiles of the Skeksis and Mystic for this cover. Chamberlain is my favorite design of the Skeksis, and I loved trying to capture the sly-up-to-no-good smirk sculpted and articulated in the puppet. Because the Mystic counterpart for Chamberlain is the canter, I drew his neck and head and mouth to evoke the feeling that he is sustaining a long note. Like my previous cover, the layout idea is to overlap the figures facing opposite directions to pay homage to the idea from the movie that these were once the same being. The circle design was a straight lift of one of Froud's designs, but traced over in my pencil to try get some of my linework in the background.

Once the pencil sketches were scanned, I played with them in photoshop to get the layout just right. each scan/element was tinted a different color to help me make sense of it all. At this stage I can not only move the drawings around, but also re-size them if I drew one of them too big or small. Chamberlain's neck and head needed some adjustment to get that evil look across, so I moved and rotated it a bit digitally.

The white pattern you see on top of them is another Froud design that I overlaid and would ink separately and place back on in the last step

With the layout completed, I printed out the image at cover size (roughly 10" x 15") onto two sheets of printer paper. I have to tape those piece back together to be one image, and then tape that (using painters tape this time) to the back of a sheet of Strathmore bristol board. Using a lightpad, I'm able to see through the surface of the bristol to the printout to use it as a guid as I ink.

I used art/tech pens from Copic called Multiliners and I used the 0.7 & 0.3 nibs mainly. I streamed part of this cover live on Twitch as I worked (but did not record the process).

The inks were then scanned and imported into Photoshop where I started the coloring phase with a step called 'Flatting'.

This is where the various color areas are established: "Where does the color of the Skeksis robe end and the back cloth begin, what parts of the Mystics patterned clothing is which color and where?" It's a techincal version of adding in flat color and staying in the lines.

I also added in color holds (areas where I want the inkwork to be a color other than black) to the background circle pattern.

The last step was to render the piece. Add in all the light and shadow and subtle color-shifts. I use the dodge and burn tool with a textured brush to do most of my rendering.

The inked overlay design was also added in here with a bit of Photoshop magic to make it a bit translucent.

2018 Appearances:

Baltimore Comic Con: Sept. 28-30
New York Comic Con: Oct. 4-7

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