Friday, June 6, 2014

The Strain Cover Step X Step

When starting any new project the most important step is the idea iteration, or thumbnail phase.  The original idea for this cover was to illustrate a scene where the main characters have decided to shoot a viral video to expose the existence of the strigoi.  My first idea was to go quite literal, as it usually is.  I quickly deviated from that over the course of several more thumbs to a kind of first person "handcam" view, almost as if it is a frame from the viral video.  In the end this is the image we decided was best.

From here I shot some reference and moved onto the tonal comp.  This is the phase where I develop the idea further as well as work out and compositional subtleties that still need to be resolved.  I usually like to do these at least the 1:1 to the final print reproduction.

Then using either a projector, or carbon paper I loosely transfer the the image to my gessoed hardboard.  In this case 14 x 22 inches.

I then block in a 3 value underpainting.  I have recently been doing more full color underpaintings, but this one was more or less monochromatic using burnt umber ( with a bit of local color on the stingers, because I wanted a translucent effect in the final piece.

I then begin blocking in the general color feel very quickly.  For me this phase is very similar to alla prima painting from life.

On my next pass I establish an final textures and details.  More or less finishing areas off as I go.


  1. What size is your tonal comp? I'm doing mine on 9"x12" tracing paper, and I'm wondering if I'm not getting enough detail to project onto the 18 x 24 board. I have a pad of 11 x 14 Bristol paper, so I could get it a little bigger. Would that be more ideal for projecting, or is that paper too thick for the projector?

    1. I usually do them 8.5 x 11 but if you want to do it bigger we can xerox it down to fit in the projector.