Friday, May 22, 2009

The Death-Defying Pepper Roux

Harper Collins[[

Here is a cover I did a few months back by the great author, Geraldine McCaughrean. I don't want to give away too much, but this is a really great book with a unique vision. It's not really fantasy, and it's more than just an adventure story. It's like existentialism for kids. Very briefly - the book is set Post WWI France, and the main character, Pepper, has been told he will die when he reaches the age of 14. The book starts on his 14th birthday.

There did come some minor issues with a story like this: How do we make a cover that is truthful to the story yet entices young readers to pick this up in a bookstore. The art director, Alison Donalty, had some great ideas and was just awesome to work with.

After the first set of sketches, we went with the top version. They liked the dramatic perspective and sense of adventure. We got to the color rough phase , and then the author decided that she would like to aim for a more mature look and the boy should be older looking. The fine folks at Harper Collins also liked the other sketch with the birds, so they asked for a revised version of that one. They also wanted to make his jacket reddish to stand out against the blue background.

This started off as oil on linen and I worked digitally on top.

Some time after the job was all wrapped up, the author requested the jacket go back to navy. Thank goodness for the magic of digital alterations. A few hours later, this was the final.


Rob Rey said...

Nice clouds! ...and everything else too.

Jeremy Elder said...

My favorite is actually the one with the Virgin Mary Statue.

A few questions: a lot of your color mock ups are of a limited palate, but they are very intense at the same time. How do you go about your color choices. Also, when you start something in oil and finish it digitally, how do you work with the texture and not obliterate it with the digital brushes? By the way, I am assuming you scan it when it's dry, or are you photographing it.


C.R.MacTernan said...

DAM YOU! Awww Scott. This is very beautiful. I'm literally swooning over it. You just keep raising the bar on yourself. Ahhh gahhh! I don't know what to say, you actually stole words from me mouth!

And yes. TRADE!!! I will trade you a real drawing for a real drawing. Let's make that happen.:D

Eric Braddock said...

Man, so much process, its awesome! Another stellar piece, Scott, thanks for posting!

Rich Pellegrino said...

scott, i've been thoroughly impressed by your recent works. you seem to be stretching your legs out quite a bit lately and the confidence that is coming through in these images are just screaming out.

ace work and you left me floored once again.

-mr. pullmyweeno

Scott Altmann said...

Rob-thanks man! Great stuff on your blog latley:)

Jeremy- Sorry it took a bit to get back to you. I'm a flake when it comes to comments on blogs:)

Thanks -I was actually hoping they would go with something different like that ...but I didn't expect them too. It's not really a Young Adult concept..and probably would NOT appeal to kids at all. Ya never know though - it's never good to underestimate kids.

OK- questions. I do mean to do a process/ tutorial type's just been to busy lately. But here I go:
About color. To be's mostly intuitive at this point. I know that is a shitty answer, but it's true. I just start off (digital or traditional) laying things in randomly, and thinly. Not overcommitting but not being to hesitant either. That is such an abstract way to put it...but it is hard to describe. But as that is going on, I see certain things click and I grab onto those hues and try to get them to harmonize more.

I photograph almost all of my paintings, as I am too lazy to scan and tile them. I have been working smaller these days for convenience, but even that would take at least six scans.

With the digital on top - I really try not to worry too much about preserving texture. In fact...I am not too concerned with preserving a traditional look at all. It can be difficult..but I just try to tell myself : This is for reproduction's sake...nothing else. That liberates me alot. I like the mindset of having 2 pieces really and considering them 2 different entities. One traditional and one mixed.

Christine- Damn ME?! Damn YOU!? :) You are too kind..thanks man. Yeah ...let's do a trade. I would LOVE one of your drawings. Even something simple and small would be an awesome piece of inspiration in the studio.

Eric- The process was a little bit longer for this because it's a bigger project overall and it had some more backing to it. Along with that comes greater expectations. It was great though - and they took good care of me!

Rich -dude that means a ton to me..I know you don't bs at all so thank you thank you. I am really trying..and that confidence is one thing I noticed I need to work on. I underestimated how important it is to have that confidence in your work, and I'm really trying to work on that now.
Speaking of- you are soaring with your own work, and I see an even more confident Mr. Pullmyweeno than ever!

Jeremy Elder said...

Thanks for the answers!

Main Loop said...

Hey dude, I'm gonna try to make it to the Comic-Con. If I do can I crash with yall? lmao

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