10/24/08

The Silver Door


This is the wraparound cover for "The Silver Door", the forthcoming sequel to "The Ruby Key" from Holly Lisle's "Moon and Sun" series of fantasy novels from Scholastic.

The line art was drawn in ink and colored in Painter and Photoshop. I designed the dragon/bird ship based on notes and sketches from the author, although I kind of went off on my own a bit with the flourishes in the armor.

Perhaps the biggest challenge of this cover was settling on the size of the ship. Although the author's original notes had the ship substantially larger, it was decided that my initial layouts left the characters too small. After a lot of discussion with the editor and several more passes at the layout, I had to adjust the scale of the ship quite a bit, reducing its size relative to the characters in order to make them more visible.

This is a common dilemma in illustration; it is very easy to imagine characters riding a giant beast, or in the window of a huge castle, but when artists are asked to draw such a scene while capturing both the human-sized characters (even their smiling faces) along with the gigantic elements, it is often an impossible task. I first ran into this trouble when I started in comic books, with writers describing impossible panels: "A massive star-destroyer is hurtling through space, weaving through meteors. Through the cockpit glass, we see the captain gritting his teeth." There are many more examples, but in every case, it's an impossible panel that leads to one irritated artist.

But that's the challenge, and in this case, the ship had to be reduced. As it is, it is still easy to miss the cat!

As always, thanks for stopping by.

Joshua

14 comments:

Tom Scholes said...

stunning!

Niko Geyer said...

I bought The Ruby Key for your cover artwork alone, and ended up enjoying the story as well -- win/win situation! I will definitely be on the look-out for the sequel, especially if it's sporting such a beautiful cover illustration. Wonderful work!

joverine said...

Wow this is epic beauty! Loving the colours of the sky and clouds-very inspiring!

Elite-Illustrator said...

i want to live in your world !!! it is so magical....
i love the sky and the background
love the ship- and even managed to find the cat.
I know that problem you mentioned, from my own experience,
it also happens when writers want a drawing of many many ppl, like an army, and still see their hero fight among them.
have a great day
and thank you for this great visual- thant made mine
:)

Scott Forbes said...

The clouds are amazing (as is everything else in the piece)!
Great stuff J!

John 'Roc' Upchurch said...

this is fantastic! it's got this wonderful fantasy feel to it. the sky is gorgeous and the winged creatures are imaginative and creative. beautiful piece all around.

RAWLS said...

I hear ya my friend! Either way, it turned out great. Good job man. And I did miss the cat on first look!

Alina Chau said...

Lovely painting!!

Jake Wyatt said...

Any solutions you've found to the problem you described in this post would be welcome! I'm making the move right now from a few storyboard gigs to print illustration work, and it's a constant source of frustration to me that I can't cut to a close-up or an insert or something after an establishing shot for scale.

I've tried using inset panels within a larger image to show both the desired character AND the environment/scale required, but so far most art directors aren't going for it.

All those obstacles notwithstanding, your piece turned out really well.

Cody said...

I'd love for that to be a poster! Gorgeous work, sir.

Ashley A. Woods said...

beautiful!! O_O

oh, i did overlook the cat @ first, ahahaha...

Hinata said...

H-HOLY CRAP!
YOU'RE JOSHUA MIDDLETON!!!

OMG I am a MASSIVE fan of yours!!!!!!!! And you have a blogspot! OMG yay!!!! this is a dream come true!!! you don't know how many times I go to comic books stores and ask specifically for your stuff!! I am insanely inspired by your art style! You are AWESOME!!

Fabio... said...

wow! Great illustration!

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