The Backstory: Please see the first PfK cover I did, Rekindling Old Friendships.
The Process: This cover started out as two ugly sketches (yes, they really are that ugly that I don't want to post them). One of them depicted Keepsie and Pallas sitting at a booth in Keepsie's bar. The other was an iconic head shot of Pallas. After submitting both versions to Mur, the latter was picked. I then drew up some nice pencils of the piece. I actually filled in some of the shading this time too. This was the first time I've done the curly style of hair before. I felt that since it was a portrait, I should include more detail. Fortunately I had some nice references for the hair style.
After I firmed up the pencils, I moved on to inking. After covering the pencils with ink, I moved on to adding some shading to the hair in pencil before tackling that part. I pretty much winged that part as the references I used for the hair didn't include this type of shading. I was very pleased with the results once I finished applying the ink. I must remember to use this style again.
I wasn't quite sure what to do with the background so I left that a neutral color until the end. I first applied base colors - skin, hair, headpiece, and clothing. I then added a mask layer to the line art and changed the color of some of the lines. I then applied shading to the skin headpiece and clothing. Once I was satisfied with the results I starting working on the hair. Pallas was supposed to have slightly graying hair. I applied several layers of different shades of gray streaks. I then applied a slight blur to them so that they weren't so obvious and sharp edged.
After Pallas was all colored, I tried several options on the back ground. First was solid color. Then I applied a gradient to a solid color. Neither looked very good. I them moved on to play with some interesting brush textures I had. After layering the brush shapes a bit I adjusted the colors until they went well with the colors of Pallas. It still didn't look right, so I added some lighting effects. Finally I applied a blur to the whole background. That did it. The background fuzziness really gave a nice depth to the piece. I did ask my husband for a second opinion as I am never completely sure, especially after staring at it for several hours. The fresh eyes agreed with my original assessment. Done deal.
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, as always), you can download it here. J.C. actually did two versions of the text. The first one was with the "Playing for Keeps" text on top of Pallas' headpiece. The second (the one that Mur picked) is what you see below.
If you are interested in listening to this story, the first episode can be downloaded for free at Playing for Keeps or at Podiobooks.com. Or if you would rather read the story, go download the free PDF or purchase the book.
Medium: Mixed Media (misc. black artist pens, PhotoshopCS2)
Physical Size: 8.5in X 11in
Digital Size: 8.5in X 11in @ 300dpi