Here’s a recent job that involved designing and illustrating the cover for a soon-to-be-published American horror anthology edited by Mort Castle and published by Wicker Park Press. It’s a little different from the more whimsical style I usually work in, so I was looking forward to taking a crack at it.
The assignment was to do something appropriately creepy but work in the Americana aspect somehow. I came up with up a few sketches, and though I kind of liked the idea of doing a needlepoint sampler with the suggestion of a skull and some macabre folk-art images, it was decided that we should go with something iconic and stark, so we settled on a weathervane topped with a ghostly raven.
It took a couple tries to get the silhouette looking OK, though the skeleton isn’t quite accurate, but I was more concerned with an impression than getting the anatomy right and with enough fog, I could cover up the fact that I’m no ornithologist.
It was a fun project and I look forward to the year 2020 and volume two.
Tagged 3iBooks, anthology, book, collection, cover, design, horror, illustration, Mort Castle, raven, weathervane
This was a quick turnaround job for “Skybox on Sheffield”, a recently renovated space across from Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field baseball park. The client wanted a simplified 3D rendering of their space for their website and promotional materials.
It used to be the houses across the street from Wrigley had simple rooftops from which owners and their friends could view the game. No more. These spaces have been converted to luxurious facilities offering a first class viewing experience. The third floor has a club level with bar and plasma screen TVs and the outdoor levels have stadium seating with a grill concession and several bar areas. At my first visit there, I was impressed by the design, and the sight lines from the seats give the illusion of actually being inside the ballpark.
As they say in showbiz, “There are no small parts, only small actors” and this guy is a small actor indeed.
The assignment was to digitally illustrate a leprechaun painting a billboard sign, Trompe L’Oeil style, to advertise last year’s announced return of McDonald’s Shamrock Shake. It was termed “urban signage”. Translation: a sign that would go above the entryways to Chicago’s downtown L-train and other locations.
I was provided the Art Director’s thumbnail sketch and told to make the figure turn and look at the viewer as if “caught in the act”.
When working on storyboards or in my usual finished illustration style, I generally don’t use photo reference, but in this case, the client wanted a semi-realistic style, so I had my son shoot a few humiliating reference shots of me in character.
I gave the AD a proposed pencil sketch along with an edgier cartoony version as an alternative. I preferred that version myself, but the client definitely wanted more realism. Even if they’d gone with the alternate version, I’m sure I would’ve had to delete the pipe, which was my favorite part anyway. 🙂
After the sketch was approved, I scanned it in and used it as an underlay in Photoshop. I digitally painted over the sketch on a new layer, reducing the opacity to about 50%. Once the simple shapes were blocked in, I made the layer fully opaque and continued refining the figure, starting with the face. I had to keep reducing the size of the image on the screen to get an idea of how it would look at a much smaller size. By doing that, about halfway through the job, I decided that the body should be smaller in proportion to the head. Fortunately, I was working in layers,so it was a pretty easy fix to reduce the body size. Near the finish, I adjusted the levels in Photoshop to increase the overall contrast and deepen the shadows.
All in all the job went very smoothly and though the finished figure was a miniscule part of the composition, it was fun seeing it posted in a couple of locations within a block of the office.
Here’s a cover I did recently for a soon-to-be-published cookbook: “Food with Attitude: Cooking the Cuban-Rican Way”.
From the Chef Papi Pérez Facebook Fan Page (which includes a fantastic and unique recipe for hummus) :
“Join Chicago’s very own Chef Papi Pérez on a culinary journey where flavor and health-conscious food go hand-in-hand. In this unique cookbook Papi Pérez shares recipes from his many years as a certified Kosher chef and restaurant consultant.”
It’s being published by Wicker Park Press Ltd. and will sell for $27.95.