PfK Cover Illustration: An Ill Wind

The Backstory: Please see the first PfK cover I did, Rekindling Old Friendships. Just recently I was asked to take on the remaining four episodes. I accepted, so I should be posting the process on those covers as I get them finished. The Process: The requested design for this cover was Peter with a ethereal Dr. Timson (in her vapor form) hovering malevolently in the background. This is the initial sketch I came up with.

After that was approved, I did a bit of tweaking on the angle of Timson and filled in the details of Peter and the air wisps. One of these days I really must remember to scan that step. What usually happens is that once I get the final pencils done, I'm too anxious to see what it will look like with inks. Therefore, I plow ahead into inking as soon as I get the pencils finished, instead of taking a break to scan.

I first laid down a solid background color and applied a gradient from bottom to top. I then turned all the lines for the air wisps into a shade that matched the background. I don't actually mess with the line art layer itself, I create a clipping mask for the line art where I change the line art color without touching the line art layer. I then began the task of filling in the air wisps and Timson. This took a while since nothing is enclosed. In other words, I couldn't just select the inside of air wisps and fill them with color with two clicks of the mouse. I had to manually color each piece. It wasn't too bad and my tablet definitely helped.

Needing a break from the background image, I then colored in Peter. I started out with base colors and then worked in the shading on top.

Once that was done, it was back to Dr. Timson. I made a few copies of the solid color and applied a different strength of gaussian blur to each layer. Once I was happy with the blurriness, I merged the layers into one. I then went to the open end of each wisp and took the edge off  with a fuzzy eraser brush. Then I took a lighter shade of blue and added some glowing highlights to Dr. Timson's body too make it pop out a bit more form the background. As this point I thought that I needed to do something else to bring a bit more attention to her, so I added the lighter blue glow to her eyes. I also decided that the gradient on the background wasn't right so I changed the angle to be (light to dark) bottom right corner to top left corner.

At this point I thought I was done. However, I decided to check the PfK text to make sure I didn't forget anything. Turns out I forgot something. Actually, I forgot a couple somethings. No worries. That's why I check. So, I added a cut to Peter's forehead with the help of some paint splatter brushes and a faint Keepsie glow around Peter.

An Ill Wind

Additional Information: If you would like to see the über-sized version of this piece along with the PfK text and issue title added (J.C. Hutchins did a wonderful job integrating the image with the text), you can download it here. In fact, I would have to say the way J.C. did the text on this one, with the vapor trails wrapping around the text, is my favorite of the two covers thus far. He really did a stellar job. Please check it out.

If you are interested in listening to this story, the first episode can be downloaded for free at Playing for Keeps or at Or if you would rather read the story, go download the free PDF or purchase the book.

Technical Details Medium: Mixed Media (misc. black artist pens, PhotoshopCS2) Paper: Bristol Physical Size: 8.5in X 11in Digital Size: 8.5in X 11in @ 300dpi