I just finished the cover to Army of Darkness #23, and it was one of the more labor intensive ones. I spoke with the writer (Mike Raicht) about the storyline, and what we wanted to do. We both knew the story was set in Africa, and there was some sort of fire creature, but not much past that. I couldn’t wait to do this cover, as I had wanted to do a cover in all warm hues ( I love photos of Africa during sundown), and wanted to emulate that. As you’ll see, I did basically the opposite!
So we discussed creatures, and I tried researching African mythological creatures, fire gods, etc, but came up pretty short. I got bits and pieces, but ultimately decided it should represent the wildlife of the continent, and give a feel for the continent. So I researched, and picked the best of the animals, as well as adding some elements I found from the mythology. Then I did a quick color study to sell the writer on it.
Next up, I laid out the cover. I drew it pretty small, and didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. So I tightened it up a bit, and then popped it into the artograph (table projector) and traced it off. Why struggle trying to get everything to fit like in the sketch? Just use the sketch! Once drawn, I also researched African tribal paint, so I could give Ash some, as well as some jewelry. Nothing crazy though. Just enough to indicate it’s not the norm for him.
So with the cover drawn, I wanted to give the creature a charcoal/ brimstone type of feel. So I took a soft 8b thick, drawing class type pencil, and shaded on a toothier (rougher) paper over the pg on a light box.
Next up, the coloring. Like I said, I wanted to do a piece bathed in warms, but with the creature enveloped in flames, I wanted the cools to play off of it. I originally thought the creature would just be different levels of red, but then I remembered how you get blue flame on a stove when you turn it on, and wanted to play up that aspect as well. I also felt it was the easy way out to do different levels of just red, and really wanted to try to create something that looked cool. Makes the few hours less of sleep worth it! Well, not if you ask my mother! ;)
Most of this coloring is straightforward. The only real “trick” I did here was on the flames. After I colored them (and left the area still selected), to get the blue flames coming off the horns, I simply made a layer in PS on top of the colors already there, set that layer to “color”, and set the pen brush flow to about 7%, and washed over the flames with light blue.
Now, back to penciling #20!