Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z is for... Zoinks! I'm Done!

The very last of the A-Z Challenge posts for 2013. What a journey.

This month took me from concept to completion of a cover for Andrew Leon's upcoming, soon to be mega-hit, Shadow Spinner. A novel he's been releasing in serial format for many months, but will soon see itself all in one novel length edition... hopefully with a cover much like what you'll see below.

In case you don't recall, here is what we saw on day one:

I spent two weeks trying all sorts of different things before I finally came back around to that concept and eventually produced this:

And for those of you that might be interested in what the front cover alone might look like:

Thank you one and all for stopping by throughout the month. Everyone's input has been a huge help!

Y is for... Yikes! It's Almost Over!

A to Z challenge day 26 (and post 25 - the last one will go up later today).

Okay, my penultimate post. This one, good people, is my final image (at least for the blogfest), for Andrew Leon's upcoming novel release, Shadow Spinner.

That damned shadow coming from the tunnel kept me up late almost every night for a week. I have never had something so seemingly minor totally derail me like this thing has. I'm still not happy with it.

But, I do like the streetlights I painted in.

The Z post will have the typeface, which is a shame, because it is possibly just as important as the image itself, and I'm only doing one post on that. It usually takes me just as much work to get that part right as anything. But, I'm not doing 26 more posts in May for the typeface.

Stay tuned...

Monday, April 29, 2013

X is for... Xenia, Ohio

I'm winding down the A to Z challenge. In the end, I may not have a completed cover for Andrew Leon's upcoming novel, Shadow Spinner, but I will have sure as heck tried.

In case you didn't understand, my concept this month was to go from concept to completion of a cover for said novel. It's been a tough month.

This post is for Jo, who hated the white stuff on the tunnel entrance. It's now gone. Replaced with hopefully hard to make out graffiti and whatnot.

And just for an FYI, tomorrow will end with a twofer for me. No, I'm not going to combine letters, I'm going to post twice. Ooh... the anticipation.

Andrew, since I'm getting those done in advance, any changes to the cover that ends the month will have to be done, well, after Z is already posted.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

W is for... Where did the power go?

Stupid power grid. A little rain and the power has been out all morning. I have things to do later today so I'm up the creek with continuing the book cover

At least I have my phone. Check out what I was as to do with an app from my phone.

Friday, April 26, 2013

V is for... Very Subtle

We're nearing the end of the A to Z Challenge and I'm a day behind.

In case you're popping in at the very end and have no idea what I'm doing this month - I've been attempting to go from concept to completion of a book cover for Andrew Leon's, Shadow Spinner.

Had very limited time to work on this since the last post. But I still managed to waste most of the time I had in a desperate attempt to save the pallets. I know it's weird that I grew so attached, but I did. So I painted this big rock behind them for them to lean on. I have to admit, it was a damned good looking rock.

What a great rock!
As proud as I was about it, and I even painted graffiti all over it, it just looked pretty bad within the overall picture. So it was taken out (I'm sure a comparison to writing can be made there too).

Without the pallets, which I knew were a problem from the beginning, I think it makes the tunnel look more ominous in a way I wasn't expecting.

On a side note, very observant viewers may notice a subtle change to Tib, nothing major, just taking out a touch of that green, and of course the shadow is now gone. I actually spent about an hour and a half trying to get the shadow to come out of the tunnel and reaching out towards Tib and I couldn't quite make it work.

We'll try again tomorrow.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

U is for... Undeniably Nervous

We're entering the home stretch regarding this year's A to Z Challenge. It's been a bit of a trial for me. Not enough preparation going in and then falling desperately behind.

But for first time viewers, I'm spending my month trying to create a cover for Andrew Leon's Shadow Spinner, which will soon be out in novel form. I'm still, even this late in the game, trying to get the basic composition of the image down.

I mentioned somewhere that getting Tib into the image was going to make or break it. To this point, all the covers I've done before have been paintings, this one, at least so far, has been about 80% photos and 20% painting. To leave it at that ratio meant Tib might have to be a photo too... or it could be the most detailed painting I've ever done. But either way, that cartoony look probably wouldn't work so well with the image so far.

So I took my son outside last night and forced him to stand in the rain while I took photos of him. For his trouble I promised him 25% of my commission of this piece. Heh, sucker.

Anyway, I ended up liking his photo so much that I thought I like it better than anything I would have painted.

I did some heavy manipulating to my kid's photo. I made his arms and shoulders much smaller, and made his head way bigger - he's nearly 17 now and does not look like a kid, but I think I've managed to de-age him pretty well here. I also did a lot of painting over the image to make it match the existing environment better. I ran a filter over him and did some color changes, added highlights and dropped some stuff off into deep shadow. 

In addition, I did several smaller tweaks to the overall picture, but nothing too noteworthy of mentioning. 

And fair warning, no matter what Andrew says in the comments, I might not get a post up at all tomorrow regardless. I'll try though.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

T is for... Troubled Times

After my four post day yesterday, it grieves me to think that I'm still a full day behind in this year's A to Z Challenge. But I am, I'll just have to make up the difference before month's end.

But, in case my theme is a mystery to you, dear reader, my hope is to go from concept to completion of a cover for Andrew Leon's upcoming novel, Shadow Spinner. I spent most of the month scratching my head as I struggled with the concept. But here is where we stand now:

Only a very minor change from yesterday's last post... anyone see it right away? I added a shadow to the tunnel.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

S is for... Steady as She Goes

Post number four in my one day quest to get back on track in this A to Z challenge.

For anyone just stopping by for the first time... this month is all about me going from concept to completion for the cover of Shadow Spinner, Andrew Leon's upcoming novel.

I left everyone with a bit of a cliffhanger last time. But I'm now ready to put the photos together into a single image. Like below:
I did paint back some tree type things, I copied the one pole from the original pic and duplicated it, I'm thinking of using them as streetlights for the interstate that is above the tunnel. 

There is still tons of things to do, lots of little things, but at least one HUGE one, namely, where to put Tib into the image... .

R is for... Ridiculous Work Ethic!

Whaaaa??? Is this the third post of the day for me? Why yes, yes it is. That still leaves me a few days behind in the A to Z Challenge, but I'm close enough to see hope on the horizon.

Still plugging away at Andrew Leon's cover for his upcoming novel, Shadow Spinner.

Recall from an earlier post that I'm comping together more than one photo. To help blend the two I need to work on this one some more:

So, I've gone into blending mode, and have made this:

Which, quite honestly, looks so awesome by itself that I'd be totally cool if Andrew wanted to use that. Regardless, I'm going to combine it with the background I made previously. You can see I continued to tweak things as well... I've gotten rid of most of the graffiti - on the tunnel walls and the pallets. I've highlighed some of the edges of the walls for clarity, and did some other minor things. 

Q if for... Quizzical Complications

Look! It's post number 2 for the day! Awesome. Of course, I'm still behind on the A to Z Challenge, but I'm one less letter behind now.

To recap... I'm working on a novel cover this month. It's not been going well.

As I mentioned in my last post. I took a photo of a tunnel close to my house. I took another photo of the same tunnel to help give some background for the larger cover of the book... maybe not to be the actual cover, but to give me an idea for some background.

Here, I placed one on top of the other:

You can see, different locations, different times of day, same tunnel though. Andrew asked about Grass. Well, there is grass everywhere, but I'll deal with that later. I decided right off that the biggest issue I would have would be everything above the tunnel. It's all very distracting, since I'll want everyone to focus elsewhere and not at all the trees everywhere, I decided I needed to do something about that.

Then I remembered the sky I painted early in the month for the other version of a tunnel (that one straight out of my head - not the real world), so I took that sky and dropped it in in the background here.

Yeah, I think that sky might be more ominous and less distracting from the overall image. I'll continue tweaking and see what comes of it.

P is for.... Possibilities

I'm way behind in the A-Z challenge. But I hope to catch up this week. Maybe even put up another post or two today. No pressure on anyone dreading the idea of me expecting multiple visits from them per day. I'm just posting my progress.

And what is that progress? If you recall, I'm trying to go from concept to completion for a book cover for Andrew Leon's upcoming novel, Shadow Spinner. I originally planned on spending the first week getting the concept down, and the final three weeks of the month executing the concept. That wasn't to be though, I'm still mired in the concept phase. But I think I've all but decided to go with the tunnel as central theme for the cover, so I went around yesterday evening looking for tunnels.

I found this one:

I came home and spent 45 seconds in photoshop to change the most obvious issues.

There, made the tunnel darker (and I suppose, longer) and disappeared the rear view mirror.

It's a start.

Monday, April 22, 2013

O is for... Oh No! I'm Still Behind.

Sigh. More sketches for Andrew Leon's upcoming novel. I'm stunned at how similar this is to what I've already done. I think I'm dancing around what I want to do. I just haven't hit it yet.

Friday, April 19, 2013

N is for... Never Give Up. Never Surrender

It's A to Z day... I have no idea how far into this we are, but it's past haflway.

Still thinking about how to compose, properly, the image I want to put forward to best make a cover from yesterday's concept for Andrew Leon's, Shadow Spinner. I had my step-son go outside and stand in the road to help me figure out what I'm going to do. I took a pic (with my handy split-pic app, so he can be in more than one place at a time). I don't think it's quite right, but I like the photo anyway, so I thought I'd share.

Were I to really be into this, I would have painted over portions of the photo to bring out some highlights on the characters, create more epic clothing, whatever,  but it's still cool.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

M is for... Michael Offutt Says I'm Behind

Apparently, everyone else in the world is up to P now in the epic A to Z blogging challenge.

I tallied the votes from my previous post... then I discarded them all Andrew's note that number 1 comes the closest to feeling like an appropriate cover for his novel, Shadow Spinner.

So, I'm going to play with that as a concept and see how that goes.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

L is for... Let's Recap!

It's about halfway through the A-Z challenge and I'm a couple of days behind. I'm sure by now everyone knows about what this whole A to Z thing is all about, but just in case - Click to learn more.

For anyone who doesn't already know, I'm trying to go from concept to completion on a cover for Andrew Leon's upcoming novel, Shadow Spinner. Since I'm already so close to the halfway point I should have already settled on a design, but I've not felt super-inspired about anything I've thrown up so far. But then again, it can be hard to use your imagination when the concepts are so rough to start with. But, I hope there is something I've done that Andrew would like me to continue using.

So, I'm posting thumbnails of previous concepts and am asking Andrew (And others too, I suppose) if there is anything here we can take as a something worthy of continuing. I made the last one bigger because I like it more. I've also numbered them for ease of reference.






Monday, April 15, 2013

K is for... Keep on Believing

As the days go on, I get further and further behind.

Nonetheless, I carry on. As always - I have been hurrying. Here is today's, which I like.

Friday, April 12, 2013

J is for... Just Messing Around.

Posting from my phone is a wee challenge, so I can't easily put up links and such. I'm a day behind so I figured I should have something up rather than nothing.

Below is a sketch done (on paper!) that is just another version of Tib being startled while in bed. Not really meant for anything. Think of this as filler.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I is for... I like This One Better

A to Z day... um, nine, I think. Read about the woes and why's of other participants in this challenge... HERE.

For those just stopping by, I'm attempting to go from concept to completion of a book cover for Andrew Leon's soon to be released novel, Shadow Spinner. He's giving me hints and 'you're getting warmer' type of clues in the comments each day. I'm still in the concept phase, trying to hammer down something we're both happy with.

So today I riffed on Andrew's comment from the previous day where he mentioned something from early in the book. 

It's still a wee bit rough, but concepts are supposed to be. But I imagine the concept is plain enough.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H is for... Holy Crap!

I've really got to start writing these earlier.

It's Day... um, eight, for the A to Z challenge. I have challenged myself to go from concept to completion for a cover of Andrew Leon's upcoming novel, Shadow Spinner. Read about what other folks are doing this month by clicking... HERE.

I'm behind where I thought I'd be, but I'm not worried about things yet, it's very early in the month, and coming up with the right concept is the hard part, the rest is pretty much painting by numbers.

After yesterday's post, I think I struck out with concepts, maybe I fouled one or two off, but certainly nothing worth bragging about. To Andrew I'd just mention (in response to a comment he left) that these are extremely rough, and things like a tree, or a pose, or whatever it may be, is not my concern. I'm looking for a rough idea of how to compose the cover, but the details are very malleable at this point. I can promise that whatever we decide to go with, it'll look pretty good once I'm done.

For this first one, I was thinking of the man with no eyes standing in silhouette within the mouth of the tunnel... although in this case, it's more like the mouth of a Mexican restaurant... but hopefully, the idea is there. I like this idea a lot, because the darkness of the tunnel can be used as a framing device.

I like the second one here as well, again, the man with no eyes is only seen as a scary shadow, a shadow that doesn't look anything like Freddy Krueger. If I worked on this some more I'd probably try to isolate Tib a bit more and make him look more alone.

I'll just keep on plugging away come tomorrow.

Monday, April 8, 2013

G is for... Great Caesar's Ghost!

Because I've actually done three sketches for today. I figure I need to get some stuff started if I'm going to get anything done... the month will be halfway over in a few days. So, here is what I have that I've... oh wait, I almost forgot...

It's the A To Z challenge this month. Click to learn about and visit all the others participating. My challenge for the month is to go from concept to completion of Andrew Leon's cover for his novel, Shadow Spinner.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, I was mentioning that I will be throwing up concepts all month if I don't get something I can commit to. So I've done a few concept type sketches - enough to at least get the idea down I wanted to.

The idea here is to put the central characters in a scene that gives on a feel for what the book is about.
This one is just supposed to be creepy and clearly give the viewer the title
And finally, the old 'my shadow is a giant spider' trick. One of my favorites.
A all that blank space to the left is for the back side of the book, so the focus of any of these images would be on the right half of the image... and of course, once we settle in on a concept, I can get to work making it actually look good.

F is for Family

Because I spent time with then and didn't have any sketches to show.

Friday, April 5, 2013

E is for... Epic Fail

It's A to Z time. Read all about the exploits of others.... here.

For myself, this month is an attempt to go from concept to completion for a cover for Andrew Leon's Shadow Spinner novel. It's a chance to see at all the crap I have to throw up before I come up with something I can live with.

When we last left off, I lamented my failure to save files often enough and I lost a day's worth of work. Then, I got the idea to do a rendered fellow instead of a painted one. In all, I think I've decided that I don't like my rendered guy very much. But I would post what I did anyway... this is the sort of thing I would normally delete and never mention, but perhaps Andrew will see something in this and say, "ooh, that's interesting... do blah blah blah."

Anywho, I'll try to whip up a sketch, or maybe two, for tomorrow, then see if Andrew has a clear direction he wants me to go.

By the way, I appreciate the comments. Thanks everyone.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

D is for... Delayed Gratification

Yep, it's day 4 of the A - Z challenge and I'm already in tears over it. After my software mishap the other day I had this other idea for a cover which would involve a 3d animated character for the boy. I spent all night last night trying to render the little bugger and didn't get anything else done. So I've got a little boy, not a concept.

It makes me wonder if I understand the point of 'concept.' Apparently I do not.

Anyhow, click to read all about other people and their journeys this month.

Dude... I have a shadow!

The actual 'concept' will have to wait until tomorrow... oh the drama.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

C is for... Crappy Software

A to Z day 3! Click here to see the entrants that are participating this year. For those of you that might be just visiting for the day, I'm attempting to do a cover from concept to completion during the month. So far it's not going real well.

I left off yesterday mentioning I'd have a different concept for today. What I didn't plan on is photoshop crashing. In fact, I was so confident that it wouldn't crash that I spent 4 hours working on my concept without bothering to save. Not even once.

I'm sure everyone knows where this is going. All is lost. Everything (From concept #2). But, I did have a sky I'd previously added to yesterday's picture. I liked it quite a bit, even if it looks odd without anything else having any color. Future concepts will have to wait. I'll try again tomorrow.
Happy Day!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

B is for... Beginning!

Day 2 of the A-Z thing. Many people are involved this time around, click here to see what's up and visit some of the thousands that have signed up.

Ok, I may have halfway explained my theme yesterday, but I was in a rush and probably did it really poorly. Here is another attempt: During the month of April I will try to do a full cover for Andrew Leon's Shadow Spinner novel from concept to completion in what is, more or less, real time. Meaning that I'm planning on making adjustments on the fly as Andrew (or others) advise.

God, what a horrible idea.

Anyway, I had a blank page yesterday. Today I have this:

Kid. Tunnel. What could possibly go wrong?
I have thoughts. One, this is the front AND back cover, so slinking towards the tunnel will look odd if you only see the front. The composition is all wonky. If I added the man with no eyes and perhaps Michael battling in the middle ground it might work better, but it proved to be tricky during quick sketches to get that to work so I'm stuck with something I kinda like, but don't love. I need to nail something down soon though, I'll try another concept tomorrow and see where it takes me.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A is for... Aw Man, How Can I Already Be Behind?

So here we are, the first day of the A-Z challenge, presented by our fabulous hosts who can be found…. Um, I'll add a link later.

For the month, I had this vision of me going through the process of creating a cover for a book. In this case, Andrew Leon’s compiled and completed Shadow Spinner tale.

I’m still going to do it, of course, but I’d intended on actually having the cover done by now. Instead, I haven’t really started. A few weeks ago there was big home related thing that took up all my free time, and I do mean all of it. So instead of having the cover done, it looks like this month is going to be me going from concept to completion in something close to real time!

Also, that means Andrew will be having to approve the concept in the comments section below the post before I can even get started. Awesome. This is starting to sound like a really bad idea.

Regardless, where am I at right now? For day one, see below:

I'm so screwed.