Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Beneath the Dark Crystal #8 Cover Process

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

This cover features UrNol the Mystic Herbalist (sometimes referred to as the Hunter) and skekNa the Skeksis Slave Master. 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.

I started by drawing the two characters on separate sheets of copy paper. As each character was missing the same eye, I had to decide which character was more visually interesting showing their patch than the other, that would not only determine which way they faced, but as I alternate the directions of the mystics and skeksis on each cover, where it would fall in the issue numbering. I opted to show the patch of skekNa. Using reference provided by Henson, I was able to draw the two and then scan them into Photoshop and place them in a template for the cover. I tinted each character to help me see what lines were associated with which figure.

When Henson & Archaia approved the layout, I printed it out on copy paper and taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. using a lightpad, I can see through the surface of the bristol to use the printout as a guide to ink from. I used Copic Multiliner SP pens to inks with. Mostly using the 0.7 nib and swapping it out for the 0.3 for some of the finer details on their faces.

These characters had a little less texture detail than some of the other covers I've done in their series, so while I still had to do some work in the inks to make the forms have some tonal definition, this cover went quicker than the others to ink.

The next step, after the inks were approved, were to start coloring the cover. That first step is called 'flatting' where flat un-rendered colors are placed in digitally. The idea is to establish what parts of the characters are what colors, and where those colors change. It's like a professional version of coloring within the lines.

At this point I also established some color-holds, where I want the inklines to be a color other than black. For this cover those were for the background design and the chains on the shoulder of the skeksis.

When the flats are established (no need to submit for approvals at that stage), the more exciting part of adding shading highlights and texture to the colors is at hand. To do that I pretty exclusively use the dodge & burn tools in Photoshop with a stock textured brush.

Like the other covers in this series, I drop in an inked Froudian pattern overtop of the whole image as a ghostly symbol.

4 more covers 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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