Under the sea, Cover Artwork For the Little Mermaid Adventures

Creating a visually dynamic illustration for a front cover is always the result you want to achieve when starting the project.  For Twisty Tales, The Little Mermaid Adventures commissioned by Franklin Watts the challenge was creating a cover image before the work had started on the book interior illustrations. 

Through the process of roughing out the concepts for the interior you take your characters designs and get to know them better in the actions they take throughout the story.  The character design changes and adapts to the highs and lows of the adventure.  Little tweaks to the look can help express emotions better and it all helps with the narrative.  Doing the character design illustrations first for the book cover is not unusual as long as you know the story and the adventure the characters must face.

I develop my sketches in pencil and hand them over for review, keeping a good line of dialog going with the client and adapting the concept illustrations to fit with the feedback.  Ensuring a quick pace at this stage keeps helps the development and the input fresh so that the character doesn’t get overworked.  

Concept illustrations for the little mermaid.

Concept illustrations for the little mermaid.

Using the layout provided by the publisher I create the composition for the cover.  The little mermaid shoots through the artwork towards the sailor she is going to rescue.  It’s all very dynamic and has a comic book illustration tone to the layout as its very much a action scene with drama and danger that needs to be conveyed. 

There is no doubt from the layout that the man needs rescuing from drowning but an extra danger from a looming shark also needed to be shown.  Judging how prominent the shark should be was the main item to work out on the layout as the overall composition of the mermaid racing to help the sailor in the bottom corner was very well received.

Book cover illustrations showing the development of the composition.

Book cover illustrations showing the development of the composition.

When it came to finishing the illustration and adding colour I wanted a little bit of the beauty of the underwater world to show, I thought of showing the plankton floating about like stars in a night sky with rays of light from the surface softly lighting the depths below.  With the little room I had left I wanted to show the little mermaids entourage of fish looking concerned at their brethren's plight in the net. 

Finished Book cover illustration

Finished Book cover illustration

Cover Illustration with design.

Cover Illustration with design.

For other Picture Book illustrations, Illustrated stories and narrative illustrations please visit my galleries.  I have also reluctant reader illustrations and comic strip illustrations available to view or request samples of via my contact page.

 

Illustrating a Book pt1 Character Design.

I doodle when I’m talking to an editor or author about their thoughts for the book I’m about to work on.  Don’t worry I multi task, doodling is my form of note taking and I’ll sketch down ideas whilst I chat to get a feel for the world that’s about to be created.

When I get down to starting the project, reading and understanding what the story is about is key to doing the illustrations.   Taking note of the important details is the first step in creating the illustrations.  Understanding the inferences made allows me to expand on the precise words laid down in the story and gives me a range of other things I can illustrate into the scenes and characters to create a place.  Going through this detailed first read helps me create narrative illustrations that will draw the reader’s focus.

I’ll come up with the character design illustrations first, either little pencil sketches that I develop sometimes over several drafts, or quick designs I can capture straight away. At this stage the visual tone of the book is being developed via the character illustrations.  My conceptual artworks are emailed to the editor/author for feedback and comments.

Pen and ink illustrations for Lawrence Pinkley character development.

Pen and ink illustrations for Lawrence Pinkley character development.

The main protagonist is usually the entry point for the reader, a character the audience can immediately identify with and start to get to know.  While you want the audience to identify strongly with this character the illustration doesn’t have to be of a ‘conventional hero’  even if the book is about a multi legged monster there has to be something that humanizes the design in some way that lets you feel for them.

In The White Arrow Assassin by Tim Flanagan, Lawrence Pinkley a detective is the main guy in the story, he’s a lanky, slightly awkward looking teenage, who has not fully grown into his skin yet.  He often jumps to the wrong conclusions but is noble and wants to follow on from his father’s footsteps.  He’s the straight man unaware of the silly goings on around him. 

Creating the other characters such as Reverend Tansey, The White Arrow Assassins and others that inhabit Pinkley’s world.  More flamboyant and quirkier looking character types capturing the tone and highlighting the humor in the story.     

Creating the other characters such as Reverend Tansey, The White Arrow Assassins and others that inhabit Pinkley’s world.  More flamboyant and quirkier looking character types capturing the tone and highlighting the humor in the story.  

 

A finished version of Lawrence Pinkley from the book The White Arrow Assassin by Tim Flanagan.  Pen and ink illustration using dip pens and felts, painted on Photoshop.

A finished version of Lawrence Pinkley from the book The White Arrow Assassin by Tim Flanagan.  Pen and ink illustration using dip pens and felts, painted on Photoshop.