Book Cover Art Exercises

Winding into Fall of 2015, I have been taking my design sketches into more finished pieces. As fun as it’s been creating my #spaceshipaday entries, it’s clear that I also need to demonstrate more finished work like the ones I’m showing here. I set out with several goals for these drawings:

  • Draw something that would make me want to read this book (clearly from a science fiction aspect)
  • Tighten up details from my original sketches, while embracing my somewhat chaotic style
  • Practice more subtle use of color tones (often my color work stays a bit too saturated).
  • Most important – keep sharing work with the world and show people what I can do even though I already have several book covers out in print already.

The first two pieces started out as #spaceshipaday line and marker drawings that garnered a lot of compliments and attention through Twitter, Instagram, and on Facebook. My thanks to you all who’ve been following along. I appreciate the comments and compliments I’ve received so far.

Original Sketch for the John Berkey styled ship
Original Sketch for the John Berkey styled ship
Color pass and extra detail using Photoshop and a Wacom Intuos Stylus
Color pass and extra detail using Photoshop and a Wacom Intuos Stylus

Clearly influenced by my love of John Berkey’s artwork, I wanted to draw something that had the same amount of crazy and wonderful details as his work. Since I’ve time-boxed my initial sketches (45 minutes or less), it’s actually tricky to get in a lot of detail especially if you’re trying to make it fit in some fashion with the rest of the ship. Overall I was happy with the concept, although some pointed out that it’s starting to look like the spaceship from the Coneheads movie, or maybe even Colonial One from Battlestar Galactica (the new show). Influences aside, my focus was more on the process.

The sketch was photographed and taken into Photoshop where I gave it a quick color pass (above). As of this writing, it is still unfinished, I’ll post the final in my Gallery.

Heavy Transport in a deep atmosphere. Rendered with Procreate on an iPad
Heavy Transport in a deep atmosphere. Rendered with Procreate on an iPad

This next image was also quite popular as a sketch, this time I stepped more into Chris Foss territory. I tried to leave the atmosphere fairly bland compared to the ship itself, although looking at it now I think it could be even more diffused. I realize I’ve left in many of the lines from my original sketch. To me this is still one stage away from being a final cover art piece and my focus has been on trying to achieve an emotional impact with the design and rendering.

Speed Chase - no sketch, entirely drawn with Procreate on an iPad
Speed Chase – no sketch, entirely drawn with Procreate on an iPad

Finally there’s this fun piece that was created entirely in Procreate on my iPad. There was no sketch. Sometimes everything comes together all at once and it all becomes a joy to witness. This is one of those moments where I just let my hand run free with only my artistic lizard brain at the controls. I don’t know of any other way to describe it but everything from the color, composition, and the frenzied style seemed to fit together nicely without a lot of effort. I would be inclined to read this book if I saw it in the store.

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