Well, gang, the fourth of July is nearly upon us, so in keeping with the theme, I thought I’d post another step by step on how I go about building a cover for the wrap around alternate I did for “Captain America: Reborn” #1.
Now like most of my cover ideas, this one started as a very quick doodle. The idea behind this piece was that I wanted to get back to a cover theme I was working on a few years ago; images so large that the cover could barely hold it all. I did this on several “Wolverine” covers and I had a lot of fun with them.
These days I like to do my layouts digitally. I’m enjoying the flexibility it gives me and the fact that it allows me to layer stuff over my sketches no matter how rough they may be. So, before starting, I created a template using the cover treatment designed for the series.
Now having the template in place, I started doodling very loosely, playing with poses that would work under the templates parameters. I found that this particular crouching shot felt strong and very weighty, especially with the black band right over it.
I decided it would be best to pose and try to get just the right energy needed for the shot. Here’s me in my studio trying to get as close to the pose I desired as humanly possible (and by humanly I mean someone as out of shape as me). By the way, this photo is taken by my brand new BT-1 Bluetooth camera by Ecamm. The fact that it’s wireless helps with placing the camera at odd angles while still being able to use my monitor as reference.
Here now is a more fully realized, very rough layout. You can compare it to the photo, while it’s not exactly the same, the photo did help me achieve some of the tension in the shot, especially the hands. That’s probably because of the pain I was in squatting down like that.
Once the sketch was done, I presented it to Editor Tom Brevoort for review, but I gave him three versions of it. The original and this version which has Cap enlarged a bit more so that portions of him are actually cropped out of the cover or pushing hard against it.
The third version was an attempt to take the same image but use it as more of a story driven cover. I hated this, and luckily Tom didn’t choose it. He picked the enlarged version.
The next step was to take the layout and drop it into a very light gray tone. Once I do that, I print it out using a regular black and white printer onto Marvel cover stock. I then use this as my rough layout. I used to lightbox my work, but find this much easier, plus after years of using a lightbox I found that it was damaging my eyes.
Before going to final pencils, there was the matter of Cap’s chainmail. Here was an aborted attempt at doing the larger style chainmail. It looked way to cumbersome and took attention away from Cap. How does John Cassaday make it work?
Here I tried using the smaller style chainmail. I found that it was way too busy but the right kind for this piece. I’ll show off some Cap pieces I did with the larger chainmail some other day. For now, I was going to go small, but had to figure out a less busy way.
Here are the final pencils that were drawn over the printed out gray tones. As you can see, I went with the more Brian Hitch-y style of implied chainmail. It made all the difference giving Cap’s costume its traditional iconography without overwhelming the feel of the cover.
Now the real artists get to work. Take a look at how Danny Miki makes me look a million times better than I ever could on my own. Why this cat wastes his time inking losers like me when he’s such an incredible artist in his own right is completely beyond me, but don’t tell him I said that.
And then there’s Richard Isanove who despite his being French and living in Canada always manages to go beyond my wildest imagination of how the coloring is going to look.
And then of course, the finishing touch which is the logo placement. This is one of those rare occasions where enough preplanning gave me a cover that came out as planned.