Thursday, 6 August 2009

MAKING OF THE DEFOE 1666 BOOK COVER!!!

Hello again you lovely, lovely people! As promised, here is the making of the Defoe 1666 graphic novel cover out now from 2000AD!

I actually first submitted this rough cover idea waaaay back in 2007 after the first chapter of Defoe was completed. In my naivety, I thought there may have been a chance of it getting collected if I offered to pad it out with "bonus material"...what a tool I was...

As you can see, I thought it would be cool to have Defoe posing in a 17th century style portrait, holding a decapitated zombie head, with the chaos of the Great Fire of London behind him. Of course, this would mean that I would have to actually paint it somehow, but I figured I'd worry about that later.

Two years later, whilst in the midst of drawing Defoe "Book 3", I get told we're going ahead with the collection of the previous two books, and so dug out this old design which I thought could still be great if it worked out!



Here's the photo I took as a loose reference. I chopped off someone's head especially for it....

Below is the loose pencil guide I did. Bear in mind that at this point I still had never even attempted any "digital painting" and was pretty nervous about trying to make it pass for a 17th century style portrait.

This is the 80% finished version of the main figure. Luckily, I didn't have a strict deadline for this so I was able to take my time learning on the job, experimenting with different brushes in Photoshop.

I was having problems with Defoe's eyes--up close it looked great with the glints in his eyes, but when shrunk down, it gave the illusion he was cross eyed. Not really the look you want for a hard as nails zombie hunter...


I soon added the background of London burning, based on a famous painting by Lieve Verschuier (1630-86). As you can tell I also placed an orange overlay over Defoe to help him blend more with the fire in the background. Still not quite there yet...



I made various touch ups here and there, the most notable being the wig of the zombie head. I was struggling a bit with depicting realistic strands of hair, but by sheer luck I had bought the latest issue of Imagine FX, which included a new set of digital brushes--one of which was perfect for the look I wanted to achieve!


Next, I had to figure out how to do the baroque-esque frame. I spent hours online looking for a high res image that could be used with no copyright issues attached to it, but no luck. My lovely girlfriend suggested looking in IKEA of all places, and she was right!

So I purchased this cheap black plastic frame, painted HALF of it gold with a black ink wash, and took a high res photo of it....



Next I imported the painted half of the image into Photoshop, manipulating whatever I could, deleting elements and adding bits here and there to make it look more "fantastical".


I then sculpted a skull face out of regular modelling clay, painting it to match the frame....


Then the magic happens...I copied the half frame, flipped it, joined the two halfs together, pasting the skull face at the bottom.


I always knew I wanted the background wall to have some type of texture to it. I ended up using a stipple effect with the "dodge" tool in Photoshop. I also blackened out some areas of the frame using the "airbrush".


And at last I get to join the two elements together and pray that the bloody thing works! Originally, I added a "canvas" texture to the painting, giving it a more authentic look, which i thought worked really well on screen. Unfortunately, I discovered when I did a test print, the canvas texture distorted horribly for some reason, so I had to get rid of it. But I was still made up with how this final image turned out, considering it was my first attempt at digital painting and photo manipulation.


Finally, it was sent to 2000AD uber designer, Simon Parr, who added the logo and text. I'm afraid my awkward frame design probably didn't make it easy for him to fit in the logo, but I think it looks fantastic!

Right, that's your lot. You can bugger off now!

Catch you soon, and buy my book!!!

L

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

You, sonnyjim, are the mutt's nuts.

-Spurrier

Moondog said...

Very, very nice work. Great idea and that rarest of things, execution that lives up to the premise.

Edward Kaye said...

God damn! Another wonderful making-of process. I love these mate! Keep em coming!!

Leigh G said...

Awww, you guys....

Si! Thanks buddy, coming from you that means alot mate!

Moondog! (I love that name) Appreciate it sir. I think it helped alot that I had 2 whole years from the point of origin, to develop it more in my head.

Ed! I'll see what I can do matey...

ashbarron said...

Great making of again.
This is gonna be on my "to pick up" list

Leigh G said...

It had better be Ash...or no more "making ofs" for you again young man!

ashbarron said...

Gonna be on my best behaviour then.

Is Defoe gonna be available to but at though bubble or do i have to get my copy before i go?
Don't wanna get all the way there without my copy for you to sign

Graeme Neil Reid said...

Fookin' excellent.

Leigh G said...

Yeah Ash, I should have a few issues at hand to sell at Thought Bubble but that's like 3 months away dude! It's on sale now!

Graeme mate, you have a filthy potty mouth, but I love ya!

ashbarron said...

Damn
Why didn't I realise that
Off I go to 2000AD to order it

I like to plan ahead so 3 months is nothing already got a list of sketches for you

Greg said...

Such a dedicated female artist, cutting off people's heads, just for woman's comic book rights . . . Really though, great job on the cover, it's cool to see the entire process, from rough pic to the finished (and amazing) cover.

Greg said...

Have no idea if my first comment posted, so if it didn't, Great cover! I really like the making of process, the whole idea with the frame was great.

Leigh G said...

Yeah, yeah... maybe I should put a post on here declaring once and for all that I am actually a dude....

But thanks Greggy! Let me know what you think of it whenever you get the book!

Kevin Levell said...

Thanks for sharing your process on this. It's really nice to see a mixture of methods - particularly the photo manipulation stuff.
This has great impact, the sort of cover that makes you buy a collected volume of stuff you already own! Top notch!

Leigh G said...

Thanks mate, I hope you're right about 2000AD fans buying it even though they already have it. It surprised me how well it actually flows from chapter to chapter, considering they're originally 6 page episodes--pretty seamless to be honest.

Plus don't forget there's quite a bit of redrawn/retouched panels in this collection.

I should probably do a post on that soon...

Pete Wells said...

Absolutely marvelous stuff Leigh, it's great that you managed to realise the dream you had two years ago!

I'm currently doing a 2000AD covers blog (2000adcovers.blogspot.com) so I'll definitely be pointing people towards this fabulous article!

Leigh G said...

No, the dream I really want to be realized involves Michelle Ryan and Megan fox, but thanks alot man!

And yeah, you have fantastic blog yourself! Nice to see my zombie baby cover was one of the first.
L

Tordelback said...

Wow. I don't often buy collections of stuff I already have, but after reading that post, how could I not! Great work man, and not just on the cover.

Leigh G said...

Well then I consider it an honour that you've made an exception this time mate! THANK YOU.

Anonymous said...

A fascinating process Mr. Gallagher! I've ordered my copy, hopefully it should be with me tomorrow, but this article just makes the trade that much special! I cannot wait to get my hands on it, and might i say that i cannot wait to see you back on board the Prog! Awesome stuff, keep up the great job!

Mabs

Leigh G said...

Hey there Mabs, that's bloody nice of you! Surprised to see a comment on this post after so many years! But thank you so much and be sure to check out the second collection, Queen of the Zombies, which is definitely my favourite! Take care!