This is a continuation of my hybrid analog/digital process. Check out my “Analog vs. Digital” post for the first part of this discussion.
Again, study and understand basic concepts of illustration and design before using the computer. That will make all the difference.
For this tutorial, we’ll use my good friend Nigel Flood’s The Celtic Clan cover as our example…
Now, let’s make a cover!
1. Putting it in Perspective
I cannot stress this enough. Too many beginners try to bypass this stage or try to fudge the perspective later and it never works. Trust, plotting your perspective before you begin drawing and it makes for a better drawing. Besides, perspective lines are great for getting over every artist’s “blank sheet of paper” jitters.
I lay down my perspective first so that everything will make sense in terms of fore, middle and background. To do this, drag your horizontal guide to where you’d like your horizon line for the piece would be. Then, drag vertical guides to create your points of view. Finally, create a layer called “perspective,” and with the line tool, create your perspective grid.
2. Placing the Characters
Place the black and white art on the digital canvas first while designing your cover. Concentrate on where you will be placing the various elements. Consider where you want the viewer to focus on first, second, third, etc. Remember this: if the design works in black & white, it will be successful when you bring color into the mix.
All of the characters were drawn and colored individually. Learning from my Outworld working experience, I make sure to draw full character concepts in an action pose. Many comic book companies commission this kind of work often since it can be used for advertising, marketing and ancillary products.
3. Consider the Composition
I use archetypes to help define a character’s base personality. With the Celtic Clan, I decided to use the Marvel Universe as my emotional template.
The Citizen became Captain America, Legacy was the female Thor. The Celtic Tiger was my golden (and less patient) Beast while The Athlete was a stoner Quicksilver and Nymph, the Wasp (naturally). Druid and Ard Ri were the Scarlet Witch and the Hulk respectively.
In essence, The Celtic Clan became the “Irish Avengers.” That concept influenced the way I drew the characters as I worked to infuse personality into the drawings and the composition of the cover.
4. Finishing the Cover
Once all of the characters have been placed and re-sized. I turn off the grid to check the composition. If it works, I’ll flatten and save a version of the black & white art.
Sometimes (if I hadn’t already painted the elements individually, I’ll start painting. Otherwise, I’ll start placing the colored items in the file to create the final piece.
When it’s all said and done, flatten the final file, preferably in CMYK at 300dpi, and voila! You have created a comic book cover illustration!
Support Indie Comics! You can purchase copies of The Celtic Clan here… Cheers!