Cover illustration for Halloween Bandits a Lawrence Pinkley Adventure. Illustrated in pen and ink using brushes, art pen, brush pensRead More
Cover illustrations can range from the complex, lots of characters and things going on in a active environment to the simple, an object or person. The focus when illustrating the cover for Halloween Bandits was to capture some of the quirkiness of character in a dynamic action piece. After creating the character concept illustrations the key to creating a really punchy image that would leap of the cover was to visualize the energy and movement by varying thickness of the line in ink loosely and quick by hand.
All my commissions are hand drawn illustrations I prefer the spontaneity of a hand rendered artwork, quirks and splatters of ink can add a lot of expression to an illustration. Pen and ink illustrations when got down on paper quickly can look very bold using different techniques and pens and brushes.
For more samples including picture book illustrations, narrative and comic illustration or reluctant reader story artwork, please visit my illustration portfolio.
Illustrations are divided into three galleries.
Editorial illustration and advertising artwork.
Picture book illustrations.
Illustrated books which features illustrations for comic and older/reluctant reader illustration samples.
Illustrating a Book Round Up.
It’s really all about communicating ideas from the moment you start the project, listening to the editor or author discussing their ideas and sharing your own thoughts and taking lead from the story. The illustration is the end result of that communication; an amalgamation of thought, insight into the story and your own personality that will infer extra detail and nuances that lie between the lines of text.
An illustrator uses their artistic skill to give those discussions form, through a process of character design illustrations, developing and enhancing the narrative in concept artworks and with feedback refining the artwork further until the illustrations are finished for publication.
Confidence in your skills and the willingness to push yourself with new techniques or varying or adapting your style that can help communicate the story best will always keep your creative energy flowing keeping the process fresh, fun and show you and your illustrations at their best. There should never be a workman like approach to illustrating a children’s book. Use that opportunity of collaboration to create something you can be proud of putting on your bookshelf.
The quality of the finished book can be determined on how good an illustrator is in storytelling and a good narrative illustrator can enhance the tale that the author has skilfully told into a complete package for the reader to enjoy.
Illustrating the cover shouldn’t be any different from drawing the artwork for the interior but is in many ways. Firstly it’s an important factor in selling the book and has to represent what the story is about inone image, it has to illustrate the tone of the book whether its humorous, dramatic or an adventure story. It needs to convey the genre maybe in an overt way or more subtlety, an example is a fantasy story with magic, monsters and strange lands that needs to be communicated on the cover to the potential reader.
Ways of illustrating this could be to show full on these fantasy elements with more recognisable details becoming secondary. Another approach would be to ground the story showing the more approachable characters more prominently and the fantasy as a backdrop. As an artist there is maybe no right or wrong direction and it is more about responding to the story as a reader and interpreting it as a creative in the way you believe most fits the story. As a freelance illustrator commissioned by an editor or author to create an artwork for the cover it’s a different matter as you will receive a brief or outline for you to interpret. The scope of what you can create will vary from project to project. A tight brief is not a constraint to your imagination rather an opportunity, a creative response can be just as effective while working within set boundaries.
The book cover illustration for The White Arrow Assassin by Tim Flanagan was a rather simple brief to show the main character Private Investigator Lawrence Pinkley. The character illustration was to be set on a coloured background with title and not include location or any scene from the book. Visually there are a few ways that you can sell what he does on the front cover in a quick and effective way. If you were to do word association with the description of detective a number of stereotypical answers about look and props would come your direction. Using iconic imagery was key to sell the idea to audiences quickly. As Pinkley’s look is typical of old gum shoe and noir detectives and his age is set down in the story, the boundaries are there to work within and the key challenge is representing by understanding his character in a quirky way. He’s still new to the profession and out of his depth the humour in the story comes from his not understanding and inferring incorrectly from clues, resulting in the wrong deduction. So when creating his character, a little bit of awkwardness in his physicality and stance goes some way in conveying this in the illustration.
Hand drawn illustrations for the book are created on that old reliable medium of paper. By using layout paper for the roughs and developing revised drafts over the top you create layers or a history of development of that particular illustration. When doing the final illustrations in pen and ink I use better quality paper or board, scanning the artwork in then return to using layers in PhotoShop. Again it’s a process of building up the art, beginning with the pen and ink illustration and adding on top or below a new layer that adds to the picture.
Using layers this way gives so much control and the possibility of enhancing the illustration. The style of the artwork will inform the kind of treatment you give to your layers. Scanning in textures or washes and making the layer setting overlay can give the effect of a hand rendered wash when using software and another layer to colour the illustration.
Depending on the project this process can involve a few layers to achieve a simple hand rendered look of a line and wash illustration. More complicated illustrations can have many more, the line art can be on several layers and composited together from a foreground to background object or character. Colour added to each layer on a separate layer the line art on a multiplying layer setting so that the colour can be seen below. Textures and lighting added each to different layers to achieve depth, atmosphere and enhance any action in the scene.
It can sound complicated and I hope I did not make it sound like goobledygook! Practice and experience in pushing your skills and solving problems on the way will gives you the skills in confidently creating a layered illustration.
As a freelance illustrator with experience in creating book cover artwork, children’s book and picture book illustrations I create each artwork with the brief, story and finished product in mind. I’ve built up confidence in using layers to create the illustration, my top tip is to keep a master copy with layers to be able to edit or grab elements or characters to use elsewhere in the book. The back cover springs to mind as a place wherea ‘drop in’ works well as it always needs a little illustration to sit with the blurb. Building up the artwork in this way, having the experience in understanding how a book is promoted, the print process and digital release makes you a more valuable resource to the publisher/author. Having their confidence in your skills and professionalism as an illustrator will create further opportunity to collaborate with them again.