And it’s a guest – because that’s what friends are for! A very special thanks for filling in for me – my eye is almost healed (although I’ll have it checked on Tuesday, just in case) – and a very warm welcome to Shafali! (p.s. if there are typos, forgive both of us… and click on the images to see them bigger, thank you!)
Creating Cover Art for B. G. Hope’s Body-switch Novellas:
Creating cover-art for novels is something that I hadn’t considered doing, until Barb wrote in to ask if I’d be willing to work on the covers for her body-switch novellas. I do cover-art and inner illustrations for business and political magazines, and if I remember right, it was this cover for The American Spectator magazine that made her consider the possibility. I am glad that she decided to hire me for doing her covers. I got the opportunity read her magical stories for free, painted three colorful covers, and then received the artist’s copy of the collection of her novellas. What’s more is that I also got a bonus for completing the assignments in time. (Thank you 🙂
I love to create cover-art because unlike a simpler assignment of a portrait or a caricature, it requires a lot of thinking. Cover-art requires the artist to weave at least three different expectations/constraints into one image.
- The author’s expectation: The author may be looking for an abstract idea; or a fairly concrete representation of the characters/places in the story; or nothing specific at all.
- The audience’s expectation: This is something that an artist gleans from the story. When I create artwork for the magazines, I generally have a good idea of the audience it caters to. In the case of novels and books, it’s something that I sense from the story.
- The technical constraints: Unlike other kinds of illustrations, which allow the artist some freedom of aspect ratio, actual dimensions and layout, cover-art begins with constraints.
The first cover that I did for the Body-Switch series was Ciaran & Harith, which was almost immediately followed by Johnny & Marion. The newest has been for Pat & Babs!
I follow a simple two-stage approval process for my illustration work. First I send in the sketch for approval and then I start painting. The creation of the sketch is the culmination of a process that begins with imagining the scene and then moves into the realm of design where I begin calibrating it against the three parameters cited above. Here’s how I went about creating these covers for Ms. Hope’s books.
Ciaran & Harith:
The author had mentioned that she wanted the two protagonists in her novel to appear on the cover, and she had given me some real-life references of people she wanted them to look like. Barb had spoken about this being a three novella series, so I wanted a common thread running through all the three covers. I also wanted to add a touch of magic, because the meddling witch’s magic is one of the things that sets these stories apart. The city-skyline just occurred because the impression that the story left on my mind was that Samantha the Witch was at her magical best in the nights and the story unfolded in a city.
Harith, an Indian, had to have the Indian Bollywood star look, and Samantha was a young, fun-loving, gypsy-ish witch (so the flower, and that impish grin.)
Johnny & Marion:
This was the second cover I did for the body-switch series. Samantha the Witch had grown older in this story. I brought the focus onto her eyes so that she’s seen casting the spell directly with her eyes. The theme continued through the two characters, the spell, and witch. That was enough for continuity – I now needed something to bring in a variation…so I thought of changing the color. Ciaran & Harith had blues, indigos, and aquamarines. I went for greens and olives this painting.
Pat & Babs:
The character, the spell, and the witch’s eyes – they formed the thread that formed the thematic connection. When I read the book, I felt that this story happened more indoors than its predecessors. Barb also wanted the Moka-maker in the Babs’ hands (Babs’ btw is modeled on the author herself.) So the variation came in with the indoors theme, but to form a out-of-the-world connection with Samantha, I framed them in a sort of window, and added an abstract silhouette of a man in the background.
Shafali’s Art Gallery: http://shafali.wordpress.com/gallery
About Shafali: http://shafali.wordpress.com/about