Wednesday 2 May 2012

On the Hill of Roses

Click for larger image

Dust jacket cover I made for On the Hill of Roses, a short story collection by Stefan Grabinski (translated from Polish by Miroslaw Lipinski), to be published by Hieroglyphic Press this summer.

I had a helpful and poetic description from the publisher: '[...] a landscape at dusk, a rose garden with the bloody reds of the bushes merging with the dying sunset shades. The ground might be a dark, almost black green with hint of the sinister in the deepening shadows.' They specifically wanted something in the style and mood of Eventide, loose and impressionistic. So I set out to put my new watercolour skills into preliminary sketches.

Well, 'watercolour skills' might be a bit overrated. But these colour blobs were just what I needed, so I scanned them in and threw more values in PS.

Then I took the two and merged them into a larger, wider piece. I threw in more golden tones because I felt the pinks and lilacs were too subdued, and because the title story is a psychological horror piece taking place in midsummer, so I wanted a small taste of it to seep into this image.

Not forgetting that the right side of the image would be the front cover, I flipped it soon after, so that the focus would be on the right and that it would still work as a whole.

I also added some guidelines to keep my composition together and flowing, and was switching them on and off right until the end.

From then on it was just a matter of rendering. This is frequently the part I have most difficulty with. I tend to overwork my images and they lose the freshness and dynamic their earlier versions have. A lot of the time, I'm just going back and forth between different saves of an image. I was more careful with what details I added and where with this one, so maybe that's why it proved to be a more straightforward process than usual.

It also turned out to be a true digital/watercolour hybrid: in order to preserve the watercolour textures, I kept laying down shapes in watercolour, then scanning them and adding them to my main image:

(All this from my 'upgraded' workspace, no less)

Tuesday 1 May 2012

Sketches March & April

After what I now realised to be a rather long hiatus, prepare to be swamped with recent work! For now, just some sketches. I have fallen behind with both sketching and scanning (lately I am so tired in the mornings or after work that taking out pen and paper in the metro seems too daunting).

The overwhelming majority of these are from the time I spent at a hospital looking after a family member. Long hours with nothing much to do - good for drawing. When sleep deprivation kicked in, less so - but still. :)

Then I realised I had also scanned another batch from March - I just never got round to posting it.