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Steel Guardian Update

I just designed the cover layout, and it will fit perfectly. Especially if I draw and paint the title in hand calligraphy instead of relying on typesetting with a limited choice of fonts. Details below the cut, including other design decisions like medium.



A standard trade paperback is 6" x 9" and I'm planning the overall cover art for that rather than the 8 1/1" x 11" format that would be better for say, an art instruction workbook.

A 5" x 7" watercolor block such as my Fabriano Artistico hot press block is exactly four ACEOs and proportioned the same -- twice as wide, twice as tall. That makes it the perfect shape and size to do a cover painting that reduces to a splendid ACEO print.

I wanted a distinctive border on the cover.

Placing a 5" x 7" rectangle within a 6" x 9" one with 1/2" on the sides, top and bottom leaves a one inch by five inch block to put the title and author name, which when I jotted it on the scale sketch in my sketchbook, fit nicely. In reality the title will be bigger and my name smaller.

I may combine digital and traditional art by doing the cover painting as an art work and the title bar as an art work but creating the border in Gimp with whatever I do with it. I have several ideas, knotwork is only one of them.

I'm working on this whether I am or not. I can be doing something else or writing something else and my mind circles around to jump on the solution to something I was stumped by for days. I was not sure of the layout, of how much space to give the title, of whether to put the title inside the painting by making the top of the painting a shaded background gradient or just do it as something separate. It's something separate.

It will be beautiful. I also settled on a medium, many thanks to my friend, DeviantART artist and professional illustrator, JPCespedes. I was dithering between colored pencil, which would resemble the original Tolkein covers and many other fantasy covers either impressionistic like Tolkein or full on Masterful Color realism painting, or doing watercolor with or without pen lines, which would give the look of the best sort of storybook paintings, the type that wound up on things like Wind in the Willows or the children's illustrated version of The Christmas Day Kitten by the author of All Things Great and Wonderful and all those other song lines from an old hymn describing rural large-animal veterinary practice in the UK. That bloke. I used to have that picture book and it had some of the best watercolor illustration I've seen in my life.

JPCespedes commented on my recent Sea Turtle ACEO that he loved it and especially liked the natural look of the strong white highlights. I thanked him and half-joked that Inktense were the perfect illustration medium.

I thought about the joke and took it seriously. I thought about the turtle and saw realism with a hint of colored pencil texture like Tolkein's colors and the strong powerful clean hues of a Frazetta or Boris painting. It's fast and easy to get strong pure color and good gradients and slightly textured brilliant color with strong values easily visible at a distance. Fast. As in, it would be done on time by October 1 even if I have to do several sketches before doing the final contour sketch before I start coloring it in Inktense. That leaves me able to use my sketchbook to work out all the elements of a montage and the layout of a montage if I do "movie poster montage" as the style. Or all the figures in a complex scene and color Conte color notes in color studies much looser than the final and still be able to trace and combine every element that came out perfect.

What has held me back from multiple figures in scenes and montages at all is that tendency to never go back on the sketch. To dread getting eight of nine faces in a montage perfect with all their details and then goof on the ninth and ruin all that work. Not if I do it the way an illustrator would and work out all the goofs in the quicky-sketch rough drafts. Then literally transfer the sketch onto the 5 x 7" block with its perfect exact proportions, color it with Inktense, scan it at several resolutions and play with color in Gimp till it's perfect and compose the final cover art in a 6" x 9" GIMP template importing both the painting and the text block. I'm debating hand drawing the text block or hand drawing it on a print out of a photo, because I could photograph the surface of Nightslayer as a texture and then do my calligraphy on that as if engraving it in. And put green reflections on it as if the picture under the text block is lighting it from below. Only one of several ideas for that. But the predominant color scheme is green (naturally) and at least one or two characters will be on stage in the cover, ooooh... two would be good maybe with the others in background not showing as much but there within an archway or something.

That'd be a scene that's not a spoiler.

And the art whatever the final version of that is (I did just get a good non spoiler idea) will then be very easy to turn into the unlimited edition ACEO print that comes with the book as a little perk when you order it from me, signed. Reducing it to half dimensions will make small details look exquisitely precise without being so much smaller they get lost, whatever I draw for that illo. It'll be a good ACEO and a good cover.

The special Limited Edition Preorder ACEO is something else and will also be an illustration, but rendered ACEO size and raffled among the preorder buyers. One raffle ticket per copy bought, except that any of my wholesale copies don't count. The one copy that I'll keep as my own original copy and sign as the Ex Libris instead of author signature does deserve a raffle ticket. This is also where sketching multiple cover art designs will be great because whatever I don't choose for the cover may make a wonderful LE Preorder ACEO.

I'm not sure the original for the cover art will ever be for sale or I'll just frame it and hang it and keep it the way I did Robert's Marbles. This is my first real piece of Author Art, the one that's personal history. If it is anywhere near as good as I'm planning, and my skills are up to what I've done recently, it won't turn my stomach next year or the year after or the year after.

I've gotten so much done last night, and I stayed up till now. Yesterday I went to bed at 11am. Today it's 3pm now. I'll be up during the day tomorrow and ready for art, I hope. My life has gone into high gear ever since I got down to starting the edits.
Explore-Oil-Pastels-With-Robert-Sloan.com Articles at eHow.com, ETSY shop, My Bonanzle Booth, deviantART gallery, SFFmuse and look for art by robertsloan2art on eBay. Listed on Art Blogs 4 U
Proud member of the Oil Pastel Society
Interesting art blog: Patrick's Art Blog focused on realism!
New Topical Blog: www.robs-art-supply-reviews.blogspot.com for all the cool art stuff that isn't oil pastels!

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Robert A. Sloan, author of Raven Dance
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