Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Animal Pound Variant Cover

Tomorrow a new comic from BOOM! comes out called 'Animal Pound' by Tom King & Peter Gross. It's a re-imagining of Orwell's Animal Farm, but with a uniquely American frame of reference. 

I was asked to contribute a retailer exclusive variant cover for Cards, Comics, & Collectibles in Baltimore, which is the only location that will be selling it (though also through their online store I believe).

To the left you can see my finished cover artwork, but below I'll go through the steps to creating the artwork.

I started with lots of reference materials from BOOM! with series summaries, character descriptions and reference, & images of all the covers created so-far. The deadline for this was a quick one, and I had some travel that cut down the working time even shorter.

My focus for the art was a dog and a cat looking in opposite directions (A local vet has a sign that looks like this and it came to mind) with the shadows of the pound's bars like flag stripes across their bodies and a tally of voting behind them on the wall. 

I used some reference of a cat I found online and a photo of my sister's dog (RIP Angus) that had the perfect side eye...

Unfortunately I didn't check to make sure using a dog not featured in the reference packet from BOOM! so visually closely tied to the voting didn't work for the editors and I was asked to change the dog to the Doberman/Pit mix character from the series.

I had to find some reference of that breed and do my best to get the expression back in there. In some ways, I think the untrustworthy glance is better in this drawing than my original.

The voting and the scale of the dog icons to the cat icons does play into the story too. All of the drawings were done on copy paper, scanned into Photoshop, and then assembled together with some color blocking added to help explain light/dark forms.

When the second rough was approved, I was able to move on to inks. I printed the layout out onto copy paper (fir across two sheets and then taped together) and taped it with painters tape to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On my Huion lightpad I'm able to see the prinout and then ink on the clean bristol surface (needing no pencils erasing).

Getting the character's linework clean and with some nice lineweights was my main goal, and then to make sure as I hand inked each 'vote' they all had individual flaws. On the back of the bristol (not pictured) I drew and inked the lines for the bar shadows.
When the inks were done I scanned them into Photoshop and started the coloring process. My first step after cleaning up and level adjusting the scan was to establish all the color holds (areas where I want the inks to be a color other than black) on the votes, the grid, and the bricks as well as bring the bar shadow inks from the back around to the front and color hold them as well (along with an effect to make them semi transparent).

When all of that was done I could start flatting in the base colors for the wall, dog, and cat. Most of those color decisions were already made in my rough layout, but I did need to alter them a bit.
The last step was to do the final colors. I use the Dodge and Burn tools in Photoshop to add highlights and shadows to all the base colors, and I use a stock textured brush so it has some life to it.

Animal Pound #1 is out tomorrow in comic shops everywhere and my cover is available exclusively at Cards, Comics, & Collectibles in Baltimore.

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