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Thread: New Fantasy Book Cover

  1. #1
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    New Fantasy Book Cover

    Hello all, it's been a while since I posted anything new, so here's a book cover for a kid's fantasy novel I just finished. It's oil over acrylic on illustration board, about 11"x16".

    Name:  Last-Enchanter.jpg
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    After reading the manuscript and focusing in on a particular scene, I started out with these quick pencil thumbnails, showing the client several variations. They chose the second one.

    Name:  Last-Enchanter-thumbnails.jpg
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    I laid some quick color over the rough sketch in Photoshop to get a clear idea of where I was headed, then gathered/shot reference (lots and lots of reference) and did my final drawing on Strathmore hot press illustration board. The underpainting was developed with washes of raw umber, burnt umber, raw sienna, and burnt sienna acrylic, then sealed with several coats of acrylic matte medium to thoroughly protect the board from the oil paint. I completed the painting on oils, working from background to foreground.

    Name:  Last-Enchanter-step-by-step.jpg
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    Tristan Elwell
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  4. #2
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    Great piece thanks by sharing
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    Great work as usual. And thanks for the bits of process
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    Wow, really lovely work. I havent had a chance to comment on your stuff so this is a nice surprise.

    I loved seeing your process and how you worked from simple sketches to the final design. Can I ask how big those initial thumbnails were? Also really informative to see how people work traditionally, and how to use acrylics and oils together.

    It's a beautiful painting, and the kind of cover art that would make me pick the book off the shelf. Thanks for sharing.
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    Oho this is very nice Elwell! Great composition! Artists who knows how to work with acrylics and oil always impress me so.
    "I wish to paint in such a manner as if I were photographing dreams" - Zdzislaw Beksinski
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  10. #8
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    Cool piece Elwell, I like this one a lot.

    I have a couple of questions if you don't mind sharing.

    In the photograph you haven't developed the underpainting to a full finish (maybe you did
    later). Now, I assume you've painted over a fully developed and detailed underpainting in the
    past (if not I stand corrected). My question is, how do the two methods (even if they are
    slightly different) compare in your opinion, in terms of result and time management?

    Lastly, I noticed that your colors changed a noticeable bit in some elements in the final (like the
    clouds, and the light area of the griffon). It's a minor point I know but, I was wondering if you
    decided this consciously or if there's another reason for it.
    "Don't judge a book by it's cover" Frank Frazetta 1928-2010
    RIP Frank.

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    I really love your work. Thanks for giving it to us to see.


    Keep it up!
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    And my short stories published by I Citizen Magazine.
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  12. #10
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    Thanks, everybody!

    Candra H
    , the thumbnails are 3"x4.5"

    Line, what sort of underpainting I do and how far I take it varies from picture to picture, and different parts may be brought to different levels of finish. I basically take it to the point that I feel comfortable moving along to oils, whatever that may be. In retrospect, In this case I probably should have developed the gryphon further in the acrylic stage, as I ended up doing a few passes in oils to get it to where I wanted to to be.
    I'm not quite sure I understand your question about the color, do you mean between the initial digital color sketch and the finish? The sketch was just to work out the general palette, I didn't feel absolutely bound by it when I moved to physical paint. I'm actually surprised it came out as close as it did, but that's just because I had such a clear picture of the color in mind from the beginning.

    Tristan Elwell
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  14. #11
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    Yes, I was referring to the difference between color sketch and final. I was under the impression that it was
    one of many color sketches where you experimented with the color scheme. Regardless, the reason I asked
    was because I wanted to see if there was any decision for the differences in between, because I've seen some
    color sketches, where the colors used in the sketch, the whole harmony, the contrast, etc were fantastic and
    in the final, even though the image may be excellent, was a lesser image in comparison to the color sketch
    and I'm talking about a couple of very great artists, not beginners.

    As for the underpainting, do you think fully developed underpaintings are useful all that much if you've developed
    a fully rendered tonal sketch for reference? I mean, you have all your information right there where you can
    see it. With the exception of the drawing, wouldn't it be too much to go far with the underpainting? I haven't tried
    it, because I end up covering the underpainting anyway, maybe in a 3rd pass if not the first, and then I lose the
    comparative information unless I have a tonal sketch. How would taking the griffon (gryphon) further help you
    achieve your goal faster?
    "Don't judge a book by it's cover" Frank Frazetta 1928-2010
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  15. #12
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    Hi Line, sorry to be so long in responding.
    Colors can change from sketch to final because, well, things change, especially when you're changing mediums. Some people liking sketches better than finished works is a cross artists have had to bear for centuries. De gustibus...
    Underpaintings: If you're asking about my process, as I've already said, it depends. If you're asking about your process, try different methods and see what works when and how. Or, if you're happy with whatever process(es) you're using now, don't. These are practical matters, not philosophical ones. I generally don't do value sketches, at least not particularly finished ones. I've been doing this for a long time, so my process is much more abbreviated and simplified than it was when I was younger. I often scan my final drawings and underpaintings, like I did here, so I have a record to refer to if they get obscured by subsequent paint layers, so in a sense that is my value sketch. Painting the creature would have gone more quickly if I had developed the underpainting further because it took a few layers of oil paint to get the coverage and detail I wanted, whereas if I had take care of more of that in the underpainting I could have done most of it in one.

    Tristan Elwell
    **Finished Work Thread **Process Thread **Edges Tutorial

    Crash Course for Artists, Illustrators, and Cartoonists, NYC, the 2013 Edition!

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    "Art is supposed to punch you in the brain, and it's supposed to stay punched."
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  17. #13
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    Just wanted to add my thanks for answering my question and apologise for taking so long to respond. I got caught up elsewhere, oops!
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