January 11, 2011

Making a graphic novel cover

 the finished product [above]

[well, you know, maybe some different quotes]

Initially, I had set out to do a series of promotional images from our Pirates of Mars graphic novel, featuring each character cut into a cool, intricate background.  But like most projects without deadlines, I wind up tweaking it until it becomes something completely different.

I started by drawing the characters in graphite on paper, and in Photoshop I used the Dodge tool to erase the background and keep the night gray tone of the paper texture for shade:
Akagi  [the villain]
 Lovelace [protagonist]

Then I usually put a navy or dark purple layer above the drawing and set it to Darken to give some color to the shadows.  Then in a new layer set to Multiply, I color the piece, trying to stay with just a few hues.

I do the background separately so I can move the foreground around and experiment.  Here we have Akagi's background, which are samurai sword hilts, sakura blossoms and flaming flames of death.

[the original finished poster]

So, it's a process, and as you can see what started as a poster turned into a brand new cover idea.

Honestly, I just don't care for the poster.  When an illustration doesn't work for me, it's hard to leave it alone.  I knew there was something missing, or the elements weren't placed as well as they could be.

Do you endlessly tweak things?  When I have a strict deadline and I can't mess with something anymore, it's finished and that's that.  But with self-motivated projects like these promos, I need someone to tell me to stop working.

Here is the original cover of the Pirates of Mars special edition + process - and below is the full spread:

We'll see what happens!  Maybe I'll use these for the second printings?  Anyway, back to work!  Later, gators

Happy 1.11.11 at 1:11AM!

Thank you to my 111th follower! What a coinkydink!


  1. Ooooh happy 1/11/11 @ 1:11AM!

    I love your back cover! So pretty.

  2. I endlessly tweak things until I think they're perfect .. but like you, when it has a deadline I'm finished lol. Crossing my fingers and hope it's great - this is me after an essay.

  3. Wonderful work! Lovelace looks really cool ;)

  4. i love it the illustration... and the finished product looks awesome... i love it!

  5. AH mazing
    and i must say, you should keep the quotes
    if veronica's dad said so it must be true

  6. I like your description of a "project without deadlines" because it's so true. And the whole "something's missing" nagging feeling is dreadful.

    Looks gorgeous! I send Mike these entries XD

  7. omygosh Veronica the covers are GORGEOUS! where can I get a poster of your protagonist? she looks insanely cool :P

  8. Thanks guys!

    Becca - I'll probably make prints of the original posters this month :)