process: drowning city cover sketches

Today I started seriously fooling around with the site style for The Drowning City. After some work on the computer, I decided I needed to work out the image for the landing page – essentially, the cover of the book. So I grabbed a sketchbook and a pen, and sat down…

Evernote-Camera-Roll-20150206-153437 5“Hey maybe we should establish that it’s set in New Orleans.” Yeah that’s a good idea. Except I think I want the logo in front of the skyline, not below it.

Evernote-Camera-Roll-20150206-153437 6That’s going somewhere I guess. But what do I put in front of it?

Maybe a rear view of Alecto sitting in a window, looking out at the city? Man I dunno that’s kinda boring.

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Inspiration flagging, I picked up the book I got yesterday. This is a couple pages from Sergio Toppi’s “The Collector”.  Last year I’d gotten “Sharaz-De”, his version of the Arabian Nights, which was full of wild pages along these collage-y lines, and was curious to see how he’d handle a story that wasn’t an adaptation. He uses a lot more panels in this than he did in the very storybook-y “Sharaz-De”, but it’s still definitely very inspiring in terms of full-page design.

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Yeah, that’s a lot better. We’ve got the main character, we’ve got the sword that’s important to the plot, we’ve got, um, I dunno, some of the other characters plopped around there. Time to explore further.

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Zoom in to give myself more detail. Definitely starting to get somewhere here; I like the sketch of the woman with the gun in the upper right, but I’m not pleased with the overall shape, or the mood of Alecto.

Flip the page over, quickly trace the sword and that one figure I liked. Oh yeah that new Alecto works, too. I wasn’t feeling the rest, though. Needed to fool around some more.

Evernote-Camera-Roll-20150206-153437 2And after a lot of furious scribbling, I think I’ve got it. I really like the impulsive idea of showing Alecto reflected in Edge (the sword) instead of having her beside it; this sets up one of the story’s themes, that she’s just another damn tool to the Sidhe, right there as the first thing you see. We’ve got New Orleans, we’ve got most of the other major characters, we’ve got a swirl of miscellaneous fairies to say “hey this is a fantasy”.

Now all I have to do is put this sketch (along with some of my character design roughs) into Illustrator and start painting. But really what I should be doing right now is finishing the next page of Rita…

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