Designing a cover

I’ve been busy finishing up my latest print projects (a new Watusi issue that will serve as a primer to the webcomic, and the self-contained print edition of Sultana), both of which happened to have a pair of crowd-filled scenes for their covers. That’s not really my strong suit (or maybe I just don’t have the patience it requires), but I was happy with how they turned out. Especially the Watusi cover which, I realized as I was cleaning up from these projects, still had all of its steps of production documented in some way. So I’ll share them with you in case you want to see some of my working process…

First, I draw up an initial idea in my sketchbook, fairly small. I did try a couple of different variations for this one (which I don’t always do), but landed on the idea of characters gathered in a library:


I worked that up to actual size with a more detailed drawing. To this, I added clippings from past strips & a logo so that I could share it with local cartoonists for feedback (on the whole issue, not just this cover):


I developed that drawing into more detailed pencil art. I wanted to give Emmett Elder something different to do and have Watusi leap more actively from the screen…


I then inked the artwork with my trusty fountain pen. This image is of the raw inks that I scanned in, which shows some rough areas & notes for myself …

Primer4-inked… that I clean up in production to get this final line art:

Primer5-finalI color that using PhotoShop, which took me a lot longer than I thought it should, partly because I had a hard time coming up with the right background color scheme. The Sultana cover went quicker, so maybe I learned a trick or two from this one! I added the logo (in this case for the Free Comic Book Day variant cover), and it’s ready to send off to the printer! 

Primer7-FCBDKeep an eye out for this issue when it’s released in early May!

[January 2023 UPDATE: this post originally appeared on my now-closed Patreon page.]

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