Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sketch Dairy: Kushiel's Dart Cover Part 1

In the last post, I shared my thumbnails exploring the idea of a redesign of the cover of Kushiel's Dart as illustrated by John Jude Palencar.  I explored many themes in this initial set of thumbnails, including Phèdre's masked guise at the Longest Night masquerade to a more spiritual connection with prayer and doves in the later thumbnails.

It was very difficult to choose between what iconic symbols of this series I wanted to show - the heterochromia of Phèdre's eyes or her symbolic rose marque tattoo.  In the end, I personally favored the tattoo, as her eyes just aren't readable from far away and a prospective reader needs to be drawn in a little more immediately.  Number 7 seems the most aesthetically pleasing, but it feels too confident to me for a coming of age story such as this one.  Number 8 vogues the most with me for the possibilities of creating a very atmospheric spiritual piece and the presence of an angel statue, which very much ties into the lore of the universe.  The rest of the thumbnails feel too generic and posed to be interesting.

Nothing is quite hitting the mark, so on to the next set of thumbnails!

Number 1 still feels too boring and generic while number 3 shows the very important object of Melisande's diamond. However, new readers won't understand the significance of this diamond, which still leaves me with a rather boring image.  Number 4 is my second favorite in this batch again for the possibilities of a twilight garden with Phèdre in somber prayer before an angel statue.

Number 2 was my 'eureka moment' and my favorite out of this batch. Something about the idea of Phèdre framed by a bronze panel engraved with angelic wings and guarded by the bronze masked priests of Kushiel resonates visually.  Is Phèdre a prisoner enchained or is she chained to the post willingly?  Readers who know the story can appreciate the moment that inspired this scene (the scourging at the temple of Kushiel), while those who don't know it yet will (hopefully) start asking questions about her predicament, which is exactly the kind of interest I want in a cover!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Keys of Inspiration

Years ago during my days as an over-caffeinated college student, a friend introduced me to a then unknown novel called Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey.  I didn't know what to expect, at first, but once the book got its thorns in me, I could not escape.  Fallen angels, beautiful tattooed women, elegant sensuality, a rich medieval world? These keys of inspiration fit the lock to my muse like no other!  I yearned to draw the things my mind's eye saw in this glorious book, but at the time I just did not have the skills to fit my vision, being the budding artist I was back then.

It is only now, years later, that I feel I even remotely have the competence as an illustrator to embark on this grand journey that I have longed to undertake.  What is that journey?  To create art inspired by the Kushiel's Legacy universe so that I can pay tribute to this wonderful series and produce the kind of art I love.   It was when I sat awake one night, an over-caffeinated adult now four years out of grad school wondering what I could draw for my fledgling illustration portfolio when I began to feel the thorns of Kushiel's Legacy in me again.  Did they ever really leave, I wonder?

Professionally, I want to fill my portfolio with the kind of art and subject matter I am passionate about because it is important to me that my career follows my passions as an artist.  This journey of visual development is to be but the first step in what could be many projects, with Kushiel's Legacy as my initiation and catalyst.  In the future, I might turn my mind's eye on the The Wheel of Time, A Song of Ice and Fire, etc.  Who knows? The possibilities are endless in a world where words meet visuals!

Expect all kinds of art in this journal, from my own renditions of the series' book covers to concept art of the characters to interior illustrations. All things are possible where my multi-interested muse is involved!

To kick things off with a bang, enjoy this feast of thumbnails exploring various compositions for a wrap-around cover for Kushiel's Dart!  I have my favorites, of course, but I want to hear what you think!  Share in comments.

You might remember the expertly rendered book cover for Kushiel's Dart by John Jude Palencar.  If not, here's a reminder:

Join me next time for a look at the creative process for this cover's redesign!