How to Cover a First Issue

I’ve been working on my new miniseries Weathermen for a short while now and I realized that I’ve gotten so caught up with the writing and with the interior art that I’ve neglected creating any sort of cover for the book. That’s really a minor detail because nobody buys a book based on the cover, right? 

Who even pays attention to a book’s cover? 

You’re right, I need to rectify that oversight pronto. So I decided to take a step back from finishing the art to issue No. 2 in order to create the cover for issue No.1. I batted around a few different ideas, but ultimately I decided to go with a cover that would showcase each of the main characters in the book. 

First up is Dr. Louis Hamilton.

STEP ONE: Black and White Art

I’ll be honest, I don’t want to give too much away about the book here, so I wanted to play up the pose of Dr. Hamilton against a tornado and lightning strike, signifying the bad weather that is coming and also teasing the title of the series, Weathermen. Is this about a TV weatherman and his storm chasing misadventures? No, but it is about predicting the weather. 



The next step is to break down the main color blocks found in the cover. This layer sits behind the black and white illustration and serves as a “color hold” for the digital painting I’m going to do on top of this layer. Think of the flats as the main color blocks you see when you squint at an image and your eye breaks the color down to its most basic shape and form.


STEP THREE: Painting

This is where the magic happens. I’m normally a traditional painting guy, working in both watercolor and oils, so digital painting and coloring is still new to me. With oil painting you build up your layers from dark to light, with your last layer being your highlights. With watercolor it’s the opposite: you build up your painting from light to dark, with your last layer falling to your shadows. In my experience, I think digital is more like oil in that I go from darkest to lightest. I’m sure you can do whatever you want, but that’s the way that I’ve found I like to work best digitally. I encourage everyone to play around and find out what works best for them. 



Now I just pull the illustration into InDesign and then let the design fun begin. I dropped the logo, button, credits and cost onto the cover. This isn’t the final, FINAL design because I still have to put the publisher’s logo on the cover and get their approval of the image, but I’m happy with the results. So far. Until tomorrow. Then I’ll hate it. 

Thanks for reading. Cheers!

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This article originally appeared on TUMBLR.]

Carlos Ruiz