I've had the pleasure to work with Todd Debonis on all 4 covers of his fantastic "The Monkey King's Daughter" series. Book 4 is a "wrap-around" cover so our goal is to have an image that tells a story both as a front cover and a panorama of sorts. Here's a peek in the process . . .
Every cover begins with several thumbnails based on our initial discussion. Book 4 is unique in that our final image composition is a "last minute inspiration" - none of these ideas made the final cut.
PHASE 2: PENCILS
Todd then supplies me with a template for the cover copy. This is very helpful as I'll design elements to work with the text. The pencil sketch is either scanned into Photoshop or drawn directly into the program on a Wacom Cintiq (which is the case here).
Throughout the process I'll keep the text on a separate layer and toggle on/off to make sure important elements remain visible.
PHASE 3: REFERENCE
I now now what will be in the background - well much of it as new ideas often pop up during the process. I'll hop on Google for related images. Todd sends a bunch as well. I use two monitors for painting - the Cintiq and a second to my left where I keep all needed reference.
PHASE 4: PAINT
Everything from here on in is painted in Photoshop. The first paint pass is a complete version of the final in black and white. The goal is make sure everything reads well with good separation/depth. If it doesn't work at this stage color won't save it.
Color is then applied on top in glazes. I'll use a lot of Photoshop layers to keep various elements separate and free for later tweaking.
The focus here is on Meilin - paint right over pencils (which are still visible under this initial layer).
Quick check on the copy layer - everything seems to be working. I flip the image horizontally several times during the process as well - if there's an error my tired eyes are missing it becomes evident with the flip
Thanks for dropping by - questions are always welcomed . . .