PfK Cover Illustration: Invasion!

The Backstory: Please see the first PfK cover I did, Rekindling Old Friendships. The Process: The idea for this cover started out very fuzzy. Mur's first thoughts were something along the lines of either Keepsie being given the key to the city or Palas in the grips of the other dimensional tentacle. As we talked it over, the tentacle idea was more appealing. So, running with that notion we bounced a couple of possible scenes around, finally settling on something with Keepsie looking into the portal as Ian gets pulled in by the beast and Light of Mornings flying in to battle. After finding the details of the scene in my handy copy of Playing for Keeps, I came up with the pencil sketch.

PfK 15 - Pencils

For the portal edges I wanted to try a method I had seen on some random comic where the portal was a bunch of perfect circles punched out of the fabric of space. For the beasts, I thought they needed to be kinda grotesque, with beady little evil eyes. Hopefully that came across. After getting the thumbs up from Mur, I proceeded with the inks.

PfK 15 - Ink

I choose to shade the beasts with stippling instead of hatching to give them a unique texture. I kept the same type of shading for the characters that I used in the previous pieces. This took a bit longer to do than the previous pieces because of all the detail. Thankfully, I could sit and stipple while watching TV - kinda like how people knit or whatever while watching TV. That's the great thing about stippling; you don't have to pay that much attention to what you're doing. It's quite relaxing in that sense.

PfK 15

And then there was the coloring... yeah... Can I tell you a secret? Coloring is my least favorite part of the process. I'm thinking a lot of it has to do with the fact that my eyes get sore looking at the computer screen for the time it takes to color a piece. That probably means I should take more breaks or something... ah well. At any rate, I was thinking on a Mars-esque color scheme, but I asked Mur what she had in mind before proceeding. Her color suggestions ended up being on par with what I was thinking. I actually found a photo of Mars and snagged some of the colors for the landscape. I then experimented with the colors for the beasts. Half a dozen color adjustments later I settled on the gray. The pink belly color fell nicely into place once that base color was sorted out.

I held off on coloring of the ink lines on this piece because I thought it looked better, more dramatic contrast and all that, with pure black lines everywhere. I did, however, make an exception with the background mountains and Light of Mornings' blast.

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. I love the colors J.C. chose for the text. The bright greens and blues work really well. Also, the added detailing with the holes in the text is brilliant. :)

PfK 15 - Cover

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.

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

PfK Cover Illustration: Enter the Hero

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.

Enter the Hero

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.

PfK 14 PDF

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.

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

PfK Cover Illustration: Breakdown

The Backstory: Please see the first PfK cover I did, Rekindling Old Friendships. The Process: For this piece I tried out a slighty distorted wide angle perspective. The main reason was that there were several key aspects that Mur wanted me to include, but I felt that I needed to maintain a sense of distance - especially between Light of Mornings and Keepsie.

Again, I tightened up the pencils before proceeding on to the inking. And, yet again I neglected to scan that step.

After finishing the inks, I scanned them into the computer, cleaned them up and started to apply the colors. This one took longer to color than some of the others since there were a lot of different colors. I first applied the base color. Then I went back and applied shading, gradients, and glow. There was some extra details I worked in digitially with the dead duck and the water. I also applied a color mask to the line art to change the color of it in certain spots (LoM, the water, etc.).

After doing LoM glow, I began to wonder if it was too much. When in doubt contact the person who's vision you are trying to capture. After a quick email exchange, Mur assured me that it was fine. :)

Breakdown

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. On a side note, I was a bit worried that I didn't leave enough space for the title at the bottom of the image. However, J.C., being the creative genius that he is, made it work out beautifully.

PfK 13 PDF

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.

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