Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Beneath the Dark Crystal #7 Cover Process

Here is my seventh variant cover for Archaia's Beneath the Dark Crystal series! 

 This cover features UrUtt the Mystic Weaver and skekEkt the Skeksis Ornamentalist. Like my other covers these two are the counterparts of each other and paired together facing opposite directions.

To the left you can see the finished artwork for the cover, but below I'll walk through the steps I took to to get there.

On separate sheets of copy paper I drew the Skeksis and the Mystic. I was able to use some fantastic reference photos provided by Henson from the time of the original production. I also had some photos of my own of skekEkt from a visit I made to the Henson lot in '09, but it was still in a state of some disrepair, so I was only able to use it for some of the jewelry and costume. When the reference failed me, I just did my best to interpret the ideas of the details into something that looked believable. Something I needed to do a lot of on the Weaver. With both of the characters drawn I scanned them put them on different layers in a photoshop template of the cover, and tint them to make it easier to see where one character ended and the other began. The pattern in the back was also drawn separately and is a copy of a Brian Froud design from the World of the Dark Crystal art book.

When the layout was approved by Archaia and Henson, I was able to print out the above design and tape it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On a Huion light pad, I can see through the surface of the brstol down to the printout and I use it as a guide as I ink. For pens, I used Copic Multiliner SP's (The 0.7 & 0.3 nibs mainly).

My goal as I inked this piece was to include as much detail as I could while also not cluttering up the piece and making the figures and their costumes hard to read. Line quality, weight, and texture play a big role in trying to make that clear visually.

The inks were approved by both Archaia and Henson and it was time to start on the first step in the coloring process known as 'flatting'. It's the boring part of coloring where you establish which areas are which colors. There's some technical stuff involved too for how you are setting up your photoshop layers and the file as a whole to make moving around the image and selecting the right areas as you render the piece in the next step as smoothly and painlessly as possible.

Most of the color choices were easy to pick from the photo reference, but there is always a lot of value and hue adjustment at this stage so that the whole piece works as a color palate.

The final step for this cover was to render the colors adding shading, texture, and highlights. I use the dodge and burn tools in Photoshop to do that, with a stock textured brush to help emulate the look of something a little more natural and less airbrush-digital-slick.

Overtop of the whole piece I added in another Froudian design (one that I inked back when I was inking the cover itself) as a ghostly overlay on the entire piece.

2019 Convention Appearances
(more may be announced)

Emerald City Comic Con March 14-17
Heroes Con June 14-16
San Diego Comic Con July 17-21
New York Comic Con October 3-6
Baltimore Comic Con October 18-20

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