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March 28, 2012

Basewood Cover Design: Part 2

Last week we saw my very first idea for the Basewood cover.  As I often tell my design students, you should always come up with as many ideas as possible, because it is very rare that your first idea will be your best idea!

After many pages of thumbnails, I came up with the following sketches.  At this point, I was still attempting to show as little of the story as possible on the cover, to prevent spoilers.

I quickly laid in some rough colors on these because I had never rendered anything from the Basewood world in color, and I thought it would be good to do some experimenting.  I sent these off to the guys at L'employé du Moi and they felt these designs were too static and didn't represent the action of the story well enough.  

After discussing it with them over email and talking to a few of my other cartoonist friends, I decided to let go of my idea to not show key story elements on the cover.  When I thought about covers of books I enjoy, they often show key moments of the story.   As a reader it's not spoiling that moment, it gets me excited and pulls me deeper into the story, because I want to find out what's happening in that moment.

So next week I'll show yet another round of cover designs, which I tried to make more exciting and dynamic, with spoilers galore!

March 21, 2012

Basewood Cover Design: Part 1

I am currently in the process of working with my Belgian publisher, L'employé du Moi to put together the French edition of my graphic novel Basewood, which I recently finished.  Over the next couple of weeks I will be writing some posts about the cover design process, which hopefully you will all find interesting and informative.

My initial plan for the U.S. edition of Basewood involved applying for the very last Xeric Self-Publishing Grant, which was due at the end of February.  For the grant application, I needed to turn in six copies of my book, so I decided to use print-on-demand.  I thought it would be cool to make a temporary cover image, just so the project looked a bit more finished.  Here was the sketch of my first idea:

If you are not familiar with Basewood, it is an amnesiac story.  The protagonist wakes up in the woods and has no idea how he got there.  As a reader, you travel with him on his journey as he discovers his surroundings and uncovers the mystery of his past.  So! Initially, I was really worried about the cover image not giving away too much of the story, because, you know, if it shows one of the big surprises from the story, it will no longer be a surprise inside the book!  The above idea is basically a recomposition of the very first page of Basewood.  In fact, I was able to make the mock-up cover for the print-on-demand edition just by grabbing elements from that first page and a few other pages from the book and coloring them:  

Of course, when I showed this to the guys at L'employé du Moi, they were not impressed...  So it was back to the drawing board!  Or in this case, my sketchbook.  I cranked out two or three pages of thumbnails (click this to see it bigger).

Next week we'll see which sketches made it to the next round of drawings!

March 14, 2012

100 Watercolors #31 - Flowers

Claire and I have two rabbits, Patty and Selma.  As you can see here, they are very cute:

Patty & Selma

We often feed them our food scraps, which they love, especially carrot ends, celery, bits of apple, broccoli stems, kale, lettuce, etc. etc.  I'm telling you this to set up a mistake I made on this week's theme.  I was doodling various ideas for flowers, when it dawned on me that it would be very cute to show a whole field of flowers and then a happy little bunny in one corner munching away at them.  Here is the result of that idea:

When I showed this to Claire, she looked at it for half a second and then said, "Tulips are poisonous to rabbits."  !!?!  It turns out, rabbits can't eat any flowers that grow from a bulb.  Who knew?!  Not me...  Oh well, let's just imagine that's a whole field of some very weird looking dandelions, shall we?

Next week I'm going to start posting about the Basewood cover design process, but this week I want to tell you guys about a great new book that just came out!  It is none other than Leo Geo and His Miraculous Journey Through the Center of the Earth by my good friend Jon Chad.

This book was one of my all-time favorite minicomics, and I am so excited that it will now be available to a wider readership.  When I was a kid, I used to love to draw cross-sections of elaborate underground tunnels with secret underground forts.  Well, Leo Geo is the ultimate expression of those drawings.  The book opens vertically so you can follow Leo Geo from the top of the page allllllll the way down to the bottom.  Along the way, Leo Geo rattles off all kinds of interesting geology facts.  If you have a kid in your life who's into science even a little bit, they will love the adventure, humor and drawings in this book!

Jon has also reworked his website so that it is now the home of the Fizzmont Institute of Rad Science.  He has been posting all kinds of stuff, including his jaw-dropping Leo Geo pinball machine which is not to be missed!

Next week: Basewood Cover Thumbnails!

March 7, 2012

100 Watercolors #30 - Under the Rain

Well, this week's theme once again features my favorite kind of weather... rain!

When I was 23, I spent four months busking in Sydney, Australia.  There was always something magical about playing music outside, but especially when it was raining (though I busked with a guitar, not a trumpet).  Anyway, this one was a lot of fun for me to paint, for lots of reasons.

Next week's theme: Flowers!