I’ve always done illustration for work and for my own amusement. I was born with a sharpie in my hand. But it took me decades to truly start creating digital illustrations to be utilized in book covers. I’ve certainly done dozens of covers from hand scribbled doodles drawn on post-it notes, enhanced surely in PhotoShop but I digress. Hand. Pen. Paper. A good example of this is the cover I did for Matt Phillips’ All Due Respect release ACCIDENTAL OUTLAWS.
This required drawing a fun but sinister logo, which I winged on a post-it note. I liked the result so much I created a sample cover, which both the author and publisher liked, making this design heist a total success. Matt even printed some patches and stickers with a vector version of the logo I recreated a week later.
The great thing about small publishers like ADR is that they WANT left-field cover designs. Something that pops and shimmies and sparkles (until they punch you out), so following this successful cover I came up with another hand drawn design, this time adding copious color in the process to make it JUMP out of the shelves (or amazon charts, take your [ice] pick). Still using hand. Pen. Paper. For Bryon Quertermous’ TRIGGER SWITCH.
So that one took some post-production, but it’s still “just” a sharpie doodle on paper with some color and swanky fonts on top. Requires scanning or photography, cords and bluetooth and other hurdles. Plus there’s no control+Z on ink. I don’t do pencils, so all the errors I make either stick out like a sore thumb or require later photoshop tweaks. Thus with the next cover Chris (Rhatigan, head honcho and all-around good guy at ADR) asked an illustration for… I decided to go full-on digital.
So for Lee Matthew Goldberg’s STALKER STALKED I use a small Wacom Intuos tablet with the free Sketchbook App on my 2012 Macbook Pro. It allows for quick and dirty sharpie-like sketches without any major headaches. Here’s the original illustration pre-photoshop shenanigans:
Simple, clean lines, strong expressive face, looking behind her with a wary eye… and that’s a wrap. Doodle, or (shall we say in a distinguished voice) a digital illustration, done in 20 minutes. The finished cover required some extra time, but the main creative challenge was done. The author loved it and dubbed it “deranged pop-art.” The book now just got some of its first (great) reviews and is available for pre-orders. What are you waiting for?
Feel free to ask me if you’d like a cover with some deranged pop-art. Digital illustration or a post-it note. Whatever works. I’m your man.