To join me on a virtual sketching trip, download a travel sketch-journal here.
I add tutorials to them so you can learn the techniques and details you see in the sketchbooks.

My former workshop students asked me to upload my workshop workbooks to make them available to everyone. So you can also download a workbook and give yourself a workshop! Enjoy!


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My Swamp Book Cover ~ TimeOut!


Yesterday I was on a roll, so I thought I'd better not stop to blog about Costa Rica.

And WOOHOO! I FINISHED the pen-and-ink and watercolor pencil painting for the cover of The Southern Swamp Explorer. Or rather, I finished it as far as I planned to. Because I was under a heavy deadline and daunted by the water on the cover, I decided to do the water in Photoshop. That water cost me at least a month of procrastination ~ by now I didn't even have a choice.

So I painted everything EXCEPT the water, as in the graphic on the right. Click on these cover renderings to see them close-up.

To create the water, I copied the upper half of the painting (all the background), flipped it vertical in a new layer, then adjusted like crazy to hook each reflection up to its image and make it look right. It took hours, and in the picture at left it's only partially finished.

Since swamp water is full of tannins and the color of tea, it needed to be darker, so I darkened that layer until it had the right look. Then since my swamp didn't look spooky enough, I used the Burn Tool to darken shadowy areas in the background forestand other helpful tweaks. You can probably find any number of things I altered. Here is my relatively finished painting at right.

This morning I worked on the title, and while I have gotten that applied, the whole cover is still open to some tweaking. Here's the "finished" book cover as it might appear on the book, at left. Since the picture "bleeds" off the edges of the page, the outer 1/8" all around will be trimmed off. Also, the colors faded and dimmed a bit when I had to change from RGB to CMYK ~ it always does this, and is the bane of designers. The web colors ALWAYS look nicer than print colors. But printers require CMYK to print, so there you are.

Now I need to prepare these graphics and the text of the book to send to the printer. Tommorow I'll be sorting through the files with the specs to make sure everything is in exactly the right format. I'm hoping to send everything off by Friday, either by uploading to the printer's FTP site or, if the files are too big, by burning a CD and sending it off to arrive there by Monday.

My blog, alas, has had to take a back seat to business for a bit....

Tomorrow I hope to blog July 11 in Costa Rica. See you then/there!

Here's a pretty picture of a banana tree and tree fern along the Ridge Trail to help keep us focused.


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Ah, the magic of blogs, here it is tomorrow, and I'm still blogging on yesterday...... I'm glad I reserved the right to improve the cover ~ here's the improvement: I wet the alligators, I brightened the cypress knees, and created a better contrast on the otter's head. I SHOULD brighten those red buckeye flowers, but I may not get to it because I'm trying to stack it all together to send off to the printer.

This first printing I'm only going to do about 500 copies, so that by the time I sell them, if I have gotten any nice reviews from the Big Guys I can redo the back cover with those reviews on it. So I'm not concerned if it isn't totally over the top of what's expected. Really, really good will suffice .

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