Here is my fifth variant cover for Archaia's Beneath the Dark Crystal series!
To view my past Dark Crystal covers click here.
This cover features UrYod the Mystic Numerologist and skekShod the Skeksis Treasurer. Like my other covers they are the counterparts to each other and paired together facing opposite each other. To the left you can see the finished artwork for the cover, but below I'll walk through the steps to get there.
I started creating the layout by drawing the Skeksis and Mystic each on separate sheets of copy paper. Henson and Archaia provided me with a great set of reference photos of the puppets and their costumes from the original production that help when trying to decipher detail upon detail of a the character's garments, props, or anatomy. I tried to get these two to act a bit more, suing their hands to each hold items significant to them (the Skeksis holds a dagger and a purse, the mystic: a rope-abacus stone). I scanned the drawings into Photoshop and was able to tint, resize, and manipulate them into a layout I liked. The background circle design is based on a Brian Froud painting from the book "The World of the Dark Crystal", but simplified and drawn in my line.
Once I got the approval from Archaia and Henson for the layout, I printed it out and taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On my light pad (I use a a3 sized Huion) I can see through the surface of the bristol to the printout below and ink using it as a guide. I inked this with Copic Multiliners, specifically the 0.7 & 0.3 nibs.
My main focus when inking these Dark Crystal characters is to get the textures right. To give them a look of being physical things with wear and tear, with wrinkles and grime. It's important that the parts of each character's costume also reads as layered and detailed and textured as the real puppets were...though I'm certainly having to interpret color and tone and texture into some type of little line styles.
The inks were approved, and I scanned the original artwork into Photoshop to start the coloring process. This step, known as 'flatting' is where flat colors are added to establish the various color areas. Mapping out what parts are what colors. While I have some reference to start with, I'm still eyeballing these colors and making a lot of decisions on my own.
At this stage I also added the color hold (an area where I want the inks to be a color other than black) on the circle pattern behind the characters.
The last step is to render the colors using the dodge and burn tools. I use a textured brush that comes stock with Photoshop when I'm doing this to help emulate the look of something a little more natural and less airbrush-slick.
I also added in a Froud-ian design (one that I inked back when I was inking the cover itself) as a ghostly overly over the entire piece.
The final order cut off (for your local comic book store to order one for you) is Nov. 19th. The issue is in stores and on-sale December 12th!
5 down...7 to go....
2019 Appearances TBA
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