Tommy Lee Edwards is a busy man. Aside from recently wrapping a stint doing design work for the hit film "The Book of Eli" and gearing up to launch the Image Comics series "TURF" with British TV host Jonathan Ross, Edwards contributes covers for Top Cow's February-launching "Broken Trinity: Pandora's Box" series, co-written by Rob Levin and Bryan Edward Hill with art from Alessandro Vitti. Amazingly, he also had time to share with CBR exactly how he's getting his artistic ideas together with this special step-by-step look inside the process for the first two "Pandora's Box" covers. Take it away, Tommy...
Thanks to "Witchblade" writer Ron Marz, I met Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik at San Diego Comic-Con last summer. Marz and I were once again attempting to crowbar some time into our schedules to work together. Unfortunately, we couldn't make the time (for now), but Sablik and I discussed the possibility of having me provide some cover art for Top Cow.
Cut to a few months later, and I was sent the story premise for Broken Trinity: Pandora's Box. I knew that this series was sort of a spin-off from the "Broken Trinity" story-arc. But this was also a whole new series with relatively unknown characters. That was appealing to me, as was the story from Rob Levin and Bryan Hill. I love "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and ancient history and superheroes and just about everything in the genre they're playing with in this series. So this was a good match.
Style-wise, I went with iconic imagery with a hint of story specifics. So with the first "Pandora's Box" issue, I came up with a couple logo ideas and sketches that demonstrated a bit of the characters' competitiveness while giving hints of the powers and a sense of danger. My initial ideas are very rough and quickly drawn on the Wacom Cintiq 21" tablet. Here's what I initially sent to Top Cow to get a knee-jerk reaction....
We settled on my first idea, and I got to work.
The project at hand typically dictates what medium I work in. My upcoming book "TURF," or "Marvel 1985" for example, are drawn in ink with a brush. I wanted a certain level of "hi-tech" realism on these Top Cow pieces. A certain "slickness". I decided to render the whole thing in Photoshop on the Cintiq, similar to some of the film design work I've done. I used lens blurs, added grain and indicated the characters' powers with glowing effects. This felt right for this project.
Phil Smith, Sablik, Levin, and Hill continue to send me ideas and brief synopses for each issue. We talk it over and I send them more rough sketches like the ones below…
Sometimes you have to be willing to revise to make things better. The below sketch was approved and I went to finish.
Something about the finish didn't gel, though. I was trying to have the character halfway powered up. But it was confusing. I wasn't crazy about it.
So I did a new one—more iconic. Simpler. Definitely a better cover.
Jonathan Ross and I are launching our creator-owned comic ("TURF") through Image in April.
A recent movie that I put my heart and soul into designing ("The Book of Eli") has hit theaters, and I am so proud of the way it came out.
Tackling these challenging "Pandora's Box" covers every few weeks is a great change of pace while I plug away through an already exciting 2010. I tend to take lots of photos with my iPhone of the work in progress and post them on Twitter. Here's a bit of what I've shared in recent tweets.
"Broken Trinity: Pandora's Box" #1 hits stores in February. Edwards and Ross' "TURF" debuts in April.