The Entirely True Story of the Unbelievable Fib

Here is the cover I illustrated for Adam Shaughnessy’s middle grade book, The Entirely True Story of the Unbelievable Fib. for Algonquin Books.I created it with water color dyes, photoshop and adobe illustrator.

fib_cover

This assignment was exciting not only because I had a long, quirky title to hand letter, but the story had giants,a mysterious hut in the woods, and gods from Viking mythology. There were so many options to propose for the cover:

fib_sketches
We decided that the giant in the woods would hold the title best, and took a scene from the story of the kids running through the woods with the giant trailing behind them…

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Secrets of Selkie Bay

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Here is a middle grade cover that I illustrated for Shelley Moore Thomas’s Secrets of Selkie Bay. This assignment was fun because Anne, the creative director at Roaring Brook Press, gave me a lot of freedom to do what I wanted in terms of subject matter, type treatment, and execution. After reading the story that was beautifully told in first person narrative of an Irish girl, both Anne and I thought we needed to show the rocky islands of Ireland and give the book a sense of magic.

Here are the first three sketches:
_selkie_sketches

We combined some elements out of two of the sketches. Anne liked the drama of the splash against the rocks and the details of the town.
After the next sketch was approved, I painted the final using dyes:
selkie_dyes
Then I scanned the painting and did the rest of the image using my cintiq for photoshop (linework) and illustrator (type treatment):
Secretsofselkie_cover_layers

Cover Sample

Here is a sample cover for Greenwillow books that was not used. It was a cover for a steampunk novel where the protagonist, a girl who dresses in boy’s clothes, is on the run in a city that seems to be looking for her….

I have left the title out in this image, but it was in gold and orange in the dark area at the bottom of the cover.

sample

The Life and Times of Benny Alvarez

Here is a book cover that I did for Harper Collins.
Benny_final

It’s a middle grade book written by Peter Johnson. The story is a little different than my usual assignments because it is not a mystery, ghost, or adventure story. After doing several sketches, the editor and art director decided that they wanted a bunch of scenes from the novel as vignettes to allude to the slice-of-life moments in the novel told from the perspective of the eccentric Benny Alvarez. The book was a fun read and I was happy with the end result.

Below are some of the sketches leading up to final concept. I enjoyed coming up with all of the different angles of representing this story.
This was a refined, first-runner-up.
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This concept made it through three rounds. It shows the negative Benny with his red headed friend on the back, who is more cheerful.
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Benny drowning in the-glass-is-always-half-empty kind of way.
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Initial concept more surreal. Benny lives a life where the glass is half empty, but he’s also a dreamer, so the silhouette of him “flies” to the surface.
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A Snicker Of Magic

Here is a book cover that I illustrated for Scholastic called A Snicker Of Magic. The story takes place in a quirky, southern town with a whole cast of eccentric characters. I did not do the title treatment on this one, but I enjoyed creating the wrap-around of how the town square might fold with the cover. It was also fun illustrating the characters in silhouette on the back. The book comes out in February of 2014, so go ahead and preorder your copy!

Snicker_forweb

Here is the full jacket minus the type treatment…
snickerofmagic

Nickel Bay Nick

Here is another middle grade book cover that I illustrated for Penguin Putnam by Dean Pitchford called Nickel Bay Nick, about a young troublemaker who through the help of an older mentor, learns to do good for the people of his town Nickel Bay. In the story, the boy reverse steals by breaking into places and leaving 100 dollar bills for people to find in order to boost the moral of his community. The art director wanted me to show scenes within 100 dollar bills that occur in the story.

I decided to paint this cover because I worried that the money might look boring if it was created on the computer. The scenes were also painted separately and placed inside the money.

NickelbayNick_highres3sketches_gford

Tower of the Five Orders

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Here is a book cover that I did for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the second installment of the middle grade Shakespeare Mysteries (Formerly known as Letterford Mysteries.) I am painting more elements in my covers and assembling them in photoshop. I hope to add more painting in future covers.

This mystery adventure story takes place in mostly London where They chose the most exciting scene in the story for the cover. I actually had to study the Blackfriars Bridge by “flying” over it in 3-d google maps in order to understand where the secret entrance to the underground sewers was in relation to the bridge and buildings.

Here are some of my sketches. I decided to change the colors in the final cover to make it more moody and have the above ground contrast from under the bridge.

tower_sketches

Alex and The Amazing Time Machine paperback

Here is a paperback cover that I illustrated for April Ward at macmillan. I actually did my first book cover for her years ago when she was at Harcourt so I was thrilled to be reunited with her on a new project. The original interior illustrations and cover were created by the talented Kelly Murphy, but sales wanted to try another illustrator for the paperback cover.

This project brought some new challenges for me. Usually I have to place the characters in the shadows or use a hand as the figure so that the reader can place him or herself inside the main character.This time the figure on the cover (alex) had to resemble the same one in the interior illustrations that was described in the manuscript.

The sales team’s main concern was that the cover be dynamic and show a lot of action so that the book would appeal to boys. This dictated the color palette of mostly blues away from a warmer palette. I used photoshop and ink on the figure in the foreground, illustrator on the title and the time machine, and water color in the bottom scene. This is my first published Action/adventure cover. below are some of the sketches leading to the final image.

Write This Book Cover

Here is the newest Pseudonymous Bosch book cover.

WRITE THIS BOOK is different from the other five books in the Secret Series because it is more of a “how to” book on genre writing. It was decided early on that there must be a large hand on the cover because the other books in the Secret Series all shared this in common and they wanted this book to “belong” with the others. Below are some sketches that were submitted:

After the cover meeting, everyone decided that they liked the hand with the pencil serving as a road sign and a path of paper beside it. The concept alluded to the different paths that a writer might take when writing a story. Pseudonymous Bosch requested that more items on the desk resemble things that might travel down a road so the pink eraser became a car. The front cover was completed by the end of summer but I had to wait for the back copy until late fall to finish the entire cover. I continued the theme of common desk objects being creatures or obstacles on the back and side flaps. The book will be released April,2013.

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