Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Beneath the Dark Crystal #9 Cover Process

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

This cover features UrAmaj the Mystic Cook and skekAyuk the Skeksis Gourmand. 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.

The first step was to draw each character in profile. I draw the characters on separate pieces of copy paper to help me arrange, position and re-size them into an overall composition. I was able to use reference photos from the original production from Henson to help me figure out all the details on the characters and their costumes. When I scanned the drawings into photoshop, I tinted each drawing a different color to help me see where one character ended and the next began.

The background circle pattern is my redrawing of a Brian Froud design found in the World of the Dark Crystal art book.

Henson and Archaia had to approve the above layout before I could start inking the cover. Luckily, they've both been great about green-lighting my Dark Crystal work so-far (knock on wood for the rest of the cover run). When the approval came through, I printed out the above layout onto copy paper, and then taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol.
On a lightpad I can ink on the surface of the bristol while still being able to see the layout underneath.

I used Copic Multiliner pens to do the inks focusing on how to play with line size and texture to get all those costume and fabric details to still read to the viewer's eye.

After the inks were approved I scanned them and started the coloring process known as 'flatting'. This is where flat colors are drawn in digitally to establish what areas of the image and the figures are which colors. A lot of the color choices were established by the reference photos, but I still handpicked the colors so that I could make some hue and value choices to get a better cohesive palate for the cover as a whole.

I only needed to establish one color hold (where I want the inkwork to be a color other than black) on this piece, and that was for the background pattern.

The final step was to render the colors using the dodge and burn tools (and a stock photoshop brush that adds texture) to add highlights, shadows, and texture to the colors.

At this stage I also dropped in another Froud-design that I inked as a ghostly overlay like the other covers in this series.

With this cover done, that leaves 3 to go!

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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