"The Dragons of Missing Lake" is one of my favorite illustration jobs to date. When I heard Tanya was looking for an Illustrator to create the cover I knew I HAD TO DO IT. this is exactly what I love to make and I want to geek out for a bit and explain the process of an illustration.
The first Step with a project like this is getting to know the story. Even before I got the job I began reading the book. I researched dragons, mountains, and Dogsledding.
I talked to Tanya about her vision for the cover. I asked questions to find out who the story is for and where it will be sold. both very important to know before the design process. We landed on younger teens and mainly sold on Amazon. so it had to look inviting to a younger crowd and have a nice look at a smaller size.
Next, I brainstormed ideas. I wanted to get as many ideas out of my head as I could before I decide full heartedly on one idea. Once I have about 20 good thumb nails I narrow it down to a select few. I gave her two options that were leading to detail oriented themes and one that would serve as more of a simplistic approach. Both approaches have been successful with a younger crowd.
After going through the benefits of each cover we decided to go with the first concept, which was exactly what I hoped for. While doing logos I push toward simplicity, but when I think back at awesome book covers, all I think of is Goosebumps. I don't care who you are, if you were born in the mid 80s you know what Im talking about.... flawless. That being said, there was not much going on for simplicity with those covers. They were amazing detailed treasures with extraordinary color combinations and they worked. I must have bought half of them cuts I wanted to look closer at the cover.
once we agreed on a composition I refined the lines and reworked the figures.
I spent time working through color options. This was pretty easy. the Main dragon of the series is Crimson Red. so I knew I needed red. but I wanted to limit the amount of color being used to balance with the complex design. I landed on a dull earthy green for a second color, leaving the red to pop.
when I got the go ahead I added shading and texture
I was so amped to work on the book Masthead. this was one of the first projects I have gotten to combine logo design with illustration and I think I need to do more of it! we went with an ancient looking display font to highlight the dragon aspect. To sell the Montana aspect, the font also possesses hints of serifs very close to something you could see in branding from the western area of the US.
I included the mountains and the lake below the wording looking somewhat like dragon scales or simply diamonds, and dragon heads for flair.
overall, this was one of the most exciting and rewarding projects I have worked on. It was a challenge that incorporated many of the things I love to do. and the end product was killer. Thanks, Tanya, can’t wait for book three!
If you haven't heard of this sick little project, Its worth a look. Available on Amazon.
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Designer & Illustrator