11/13/07

The Ruby Key


























This is the dust jacket for "The Ruby Key", the first book in a new series of young adult fantasy novels titled "Moon and Sun", written by Holly Lisle. I completed it for the good folks at Scholastic Publishing a few months ago. It will be published some time next year.

The composition looks odd when it isn't folded up, so the smaller JPEG includes some lines to help indicate roughly where the image will be folded to wrap around the book.

The original is a rather large line drawing, somewhere around 16"x36", which I drew on heavy board with the idea that I might actually paint it. In the end, I scanned it and colored in Photoshop and Painter as usual. Maybe I will paint the next one.

The line art pictured here is how it appeared after I made some adjustments. The original is drawn in blue, and the main figures are actually facing the opposite direction, with their backs to one another. I had to flop them over in Photoshop because, for some strange reason, I decided to deviate from the sketch I submitted to Scholastic for approval when drawing the final, turning the figures the opposite direction. In the end, Scholastic decided they wanted them facing the same way I drew them in the sketch, so I did some careful selecting and digital noodling to fix it. That'll teach me to screw around with the layout!

If I can dig up the roughs, layouts, and scans, I will post them later; there were a lot of them. At the moment, I can't seem to recall where I put them.

Thanks for looking.

J

47 comments:

Scott Forbes said...

Holy! This is amazing, I try to be professional when commenting but this is amazing! I love how simple your lineart is yet, when brought into photoshop, you take it to a whole new level.

All the best and hope to hear back from you soon.

Scott

Lex said...

It's simply beautiful.

If I could make one request, that would be for a video of the entire drawing/coloring process from start to finish. It would be amazing to see your approach to art.

But I'm still be happy with just the pencils and final product pictures.

Keep up the good work.

Kyle said...

Simply amazing! This piece reminds me a lot of Arthur Rackham and Mucha.
Great work Josh!

Amy said...

Gorgeous work as always, Josh.

I love how so much of the background is done in silhouette - even the trees in the foreground.

Paul said...

Goddamn that's beautiful!
Enough said really.

holzy said...

Ahhh fabuloussss! I'm sure the author was ECSTATIC~ What a beautiful jacket for a book <3
It's the sort of book that I'd pick up hoping to find more delights like the cover on the inside, lol~

Monster Monkey said...

That's my new favorite piece by you, sir. You continue to be awesome and an inspiration.

COMIKXGUY said...

AWESUM!

i agree with lex, a process vid would be sweet

Tim McBurnie said...

Wow that looks great man. wallpapered!

Comic in the same vein sans spandex required :)

time Alfa said...

UAUUu!
Amazing!
Extraordinary!
very beautiful!
inspirer

Jacob Walker said...

I've always really loved your stuff but you really have a nice Arthur Racham / Maxfield Parish quality to your images these days. Yeah, I put you in that league! Take care.

Enrique Fernandez said...

Beautiful! If I do understand it right, it will be sad to cut that pic on diferent panels. It deserves all the space you have created, so inviting.
Also your way of working with color is great.
Cheers
E.

escapegoat said...

Wow....that's the Bee's Knees right there. Beautiful color and line work.

-Ty

joe suitor said...

amazing setting/mood...

Anna said...

WOW!!!!!!
Amazing!
Very very extraordinary!
very beautiful!
inspirer.....
bye!!
^^

Gabriele Pennacchioli said...

Great atmosphere! Love your design.

Eloth said...

I have a question for you actually. I am about to graduate and am entering the field. I was wondering if you could tell me what kind of rights you have on this. I heard scholastic publishing usually puts up a good fight when it comes to gaining alot of rights with artwork. Any insight would be helpful and interesting.

Marc said...

This cover has a wonderful ethereal quality. I love how the subtle, soft colors play off of the crisp linework and gnarled tree limbs.

colin said...

Beautiful piece. Great texture on the trees and grass, and a wonderful sense of otherworldliness.

By the way, your site was linked on Drawn today.

laojie - painter said...

Beautiful work! Well done!

KarMa said...

Ciao, I just found your work and wow ! I love it! Beautiful and this cover is fantastic.
Ciao

~Manuela

Julio. said...

amazing work, the colors, the lines, the composition...
I think your work is very clean and powerfull.
sorry for my english. bye

libra bear said...

Your work never ceases to amaze me...

Joshua Middleton said...

Thank you so much to everyone, and especially to you artists I admire so much!

This cover is definitely closer in spirit to the type of work I enjoy, and as I have said many times in the past, I am making a real effort to focus my career on creating more of it.

Eloth, I am not sure what sort of rights you are referring to, but if an illustration is commissioned as work-for-hire, as this cover was, then the publisher rightfully owns all of the reproduction rights. I was fairly compensated for the drawing, and Scholastic, a fine publisher, can do whatever they want with it. I retain the original art. If you have a more specific question, please feel free to ask.

Thanks again to everyone.

Back to work!

J

k. borcz said...

It's soo magical! I like it. And that girl's wearing my sweater! lol.

Dylan said...

Beautiful.

slpenney said...

Wow, I can see why Holly has this as her background on her computer!

I love it!

matrixrizorex said...

Wow! That water color effect is that Photoshop? What function did you use to get that effect and the subtle glow on the background like there's a thick mist or fog or something. Thanks for sharing!

Hoshichan said...

This art is fantastic, and (echoing others) I can totally see why Holly has this as her wallpaper right now!

When I get published, you can do my covers ANY TIME. Great work!

Guillermo P. Mogorrón said...

As the first one (scott forbes), commented here, is hard to sound as a professional while posting a comment about such awesome work, is simply great, and when you understand the reason of the composition, it looks even better.
Would be nice to see the final step, with credits, title, and everything. Will you design that too?

Bentos said...

Awesomeness! This is what the His Dark Materials film should have felt like!

Holly said...

One of my readers tipped me off that this was here, and I wanted to stop by and say thank you. I've been enchanted by this since I saw the line drawings--the final work is simply stunning. And you got so much of the story in there, and got the kids right. I love it. As one of my folks above noted, it's my computer wallpaper, just so I get to see it every day before I start writing.

Thank you so much for doing something so wonderful for my book.

lalover said...

Joshua, great artwork. Can you give me some advice? What is the best way an experienced illustrator but novice to the industry can "kick up some dust" as they say?

Joshua Middleton said...

Thanks again, everyone.

Holly, I am so glad you like the cover. I attempted to capture the look of the characters and the mood of the story (which I read and enjoyed) but wasn't sure if I was anywhere near what you envisioned having never spoken with you directly. I am pleased and relieved that the image works for you. I am hoping to have the opportunity to draw another one for book two.

Matrixrizorex, the feel of this image was the result of a whole bunch of different techniques, including the use of a lot of layers for adjusting the opacity of painted-over color (to create fog, for example), as well as a lot of trial and error. I experiment a lot when I am trying to capture a certain feel, and along the way I sometimes stumble into some happy accidents which I then build upon. I wish I could tell you specifically how a particular effect was accomplished, but it really is an organic process, and I simply build and build until things start to look right. I can say that I think logically, so if I want a certain texture, I figure out a way to create that texture and drop it onto the image. If I want fog, I paint fog and blend it in between the branches just as fog does. The key is to think like the light, to get your head into the space you are trying to create, and then it is much easier to imagine how light, shadow, fog, and dust behaves and interacts with the scene. I have no idea if that new-age answer is of any use to you, but that is all I can think to say at the moment. If you were hoping there was a specific filter to accomplish the look, there isn't.

Lalover, the best way for any illustrator, experienced or not, to make an impression is to draw beautifully and honestly. Although there are other ways to drum up attention, like drawing quickly, dependably, controversially, or even drawing poorly, as a fan, I admire and respect artists who invest the time to create something extraordinary, and are honest with themselves when they are failing to create something genuine. It is sometimes easy to draw what you might think everyone wants to see, but the only truly memorable art is drawn from within the artist, and that quality is evident in the art itself, which is why people take notice, no matter the style. Best of luck to you.

J

matrixrizorex said...

Wow Joshua sir, not only are you a great artist you are also a very decent person. I did not expect you to respond to my question sir and such a great and detailed response also. You are indeed the man! no wonder you are going far. I think you are going to be the next Todd McFarlane, where you will break out on your own and start building your own empire, comics, toys, movies you name it. I hope that when you start your own line of toy designs (and I hope you do ehehehe) I get to be the first to buy your first editions. Could you please kindly tell me how I may acquire an autographed work of yours sir. I'd be very proud to display it and share it with my young students. Thank you so much once again sir it was an honor to have been addressed by you.

Chiya said...

Hi, I'm an Italian girl (so sorry for my english ^_^''). I bought, a lot years ago your comics (maybe a little scketch-book, November 2002), with the Indy Press. I really like a lot your art and I'm really happy to finally find your blog! This fantasy (my passion) illustration is wonderful!!!!
Thanks for your art

Chiya

Eloth said...

Hey, me again. Thanks for the response! As for more detail, I was wondering about redistribution rights, like if they wanted to use the drawing to make a poster or advertisement. Would you get paid a certain amount for each extra use like that, or do they simply own all exclusive rights till the end of time? Just wondering. I've heard alot about artists and illustrators who kick themselves for selling all the rights, but I guess it must be different for book covers and graphic novels. Thanks for the info, it's a big help!

emanuela said...

Wow!!! :)

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mammamia! bellissimo!

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very cool blog!

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This draw is marvellous !!

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