Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Commissioning Cover Art for My Novel "The White Door" - A Progression

Now that you've seen the final cover for my novel The White Door, I thought I'd share the stages that went into creating it...with images.

So, the first step of the process was to come up with an idea for the cover, something I could convey to prospective artists.  As a writer, I use words to depict what I want, while most artists think more visually.  Because of this, I decided to do a quick cover sketch, which ended up scribbled with writing to convey my poorly rendered visuals anyway.  It was then time to find an artist, and I turned to longtime comics artist Tom Derenick (DC Comics' Action Comics, INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US), who is extremely versatile and always delivers a quality product. 

Here is that first sketch I made for Tom.  Try not to snigger too much...and don't strain too greatly in an attempt to read my atrocious handwriting.

Yes, that image, along with a synopsis of my ideas was what I gave to Tom.  Needless to say, when he delivered the initial thumbnails for the concept sketches, I was happy not to have to refer back to it.  Below are images of the three thumbnail sketches Tom did for me, the first being a direct translation of my idea and the other two his own interpretations.



The only idea I had any issue with was B, and that was for entirely thematic reasons.

A was, of course, the closest to my original idea, so I felt slightly partial to it, despite C being the real attention grabber.

This was one of Tom's original concepts, and the pick of anyone whose opinion I trusted.  The only aspect I didn't like was the extreme angle, thinking it would appear narrow on the front of a book.


With that in mind, and my inability to entirely let go of my original idea, I asked Tom to do two new thumbnails with some small revisions and he obliged. 

Despite a touch of confusion concerning one of my notes about the placement of the arm reaching around the door, when I saw the second revised sketch, I knew it was the winner.  It captured the character's struggle and was the most interesting visually.  I informed Tom of my decision, and he went to work.

Some time later, he delivered the finished pieces to me, one in pen & ink and one fully shaded.


I was thrilled.  The artwork was exquisite and conveyed all I could wish of my book cover.  Tom's work made it so easy to be pleased, but I had work of my own ahead of me if I was going to be able to finish the book cover in such a way as to honor his original art.

I wanted to lessen the shadowing on the girl's face because I thought it made her appear slightly older than the character of Alice.  To this end, I simply overlaid the image from the pen & ink piece with that of the shaded one, letting a smaller amount of the shading show through from beneath.  When that was finished, I set to coloring the image, something I'd never attempted before.  In the end, I wound up with something I was pretty happy with.  In all honesty, Tom's shading work made the coloring process much simpler than it otherwise would have been.  The final task was a simple matter of laying the image into my final cover layout, which had been finished prior to receiving the art.

And because I was feeling playful, I also altered the colors as an experiment.  I made all the color paler with a higher degree of delineation.  The only exception was the nightgown, which I made a darker, striking blue.  I call this my "EC Comics" cover.  I would have also changed the character's skin and hair if I was doing it as more than a lark.

Off to the printers!

That was my journey from original concept to finished artwork for my novel The White Door.  I hope you enjoyed the insight into this process, and remember the release date for the novel is next Tuesday, October 15th.

Thanks for your time,