March 20, 2019

SFTBW Alumni Album Covers

Back in 2014 I produced a rock opera reinterpretation of my graphic novel Basewood, called Songs From the Basewood.  My amazingly talented friend Andy Hentz did 99% of the work, including singing the part of the main character, Ben. I co-wrote some of the songs and got to sing the part of the wolf-dragon, which was a ton of fun. For the other three parts, we contacted some of our very talented musician friends who we met in college. My friend Lindsay Sharp sang the parts of Violet and Caren, Ben Montgomery sang the part of Argus and played all of the trumpet parts, and Sudara Williams sang the part of the dog, contributed some beautiful guitar parts and also mixed and mastered the entire album.

Making Songs From the Basewood was one of the most incredible creative experiences of my life, and I'm so proud of what our team created.  Sometimes I feel like I actually like the album more than the book! Anyways, this is all to say that I've stayed in touch with all these incredibly talented musicians and have recently had the opportunity to create some cover art for their recent albums!

Wurlibird Special by Sudara Williams


Sudara performed this entire instrumental album on a Wurlitzer organ and he had a really clear vision of what he wanted for this cover image.  It was just a matter of trying to deliver what he was envisioning in his mind.  A couple of sketches, a few value tweaks and we let this cover take flight!

Free As a Hotel by Ben Montgomery

The story of this album is a long one, so without going into its whole history, I'll just say that I got very slightly involved with it in a motivational capacity in the 11th hour.  I think because of my minuscule role in bringing about its completion, Ben and Sudara (who mixed and mastered the album) asked me to make the cover art. All of the songs were written in Ben's apartment, at his piano, and luckily for me, he lives just down the road here in Santa Fe. I swung by and took some photos and then worked up some sketches to send to Sudara who art directed this piece.

Originally he asked for a "messy" treatment (maybe with charcoal?) and even as the idea developed further, that sort of got stuck it my head.  I took a first crack at the approved sketch using cold press watercolor paper, ink wash and a soft blackwing pencil. 


This image felt too dark for these tunes, so before abandoning it completely, I messed around with the grayscale image in Photoshop, using the "duotone" process, which essentially replaces the white and black ends of a grayscale spectrum with two other colors. It was really fun to experiment with different color combinations. This lightened up the image, but it still didn't feel quite right.  I may come back to this technique again for some future project!

In the end, Sudara asked for a more "Alec" style of rendering, in full color, for the finished piece :)


As you can see, I implemented some of the textured photoshop brushes that I learned how to use on Be Prepared.

Both of these albums are really great, so I hope you'll follow the links above to stream them for free, or consider buying them on the platform of your choice!

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