Illustrator Sergio Melero, from Valencia, Spain, is a busy guy. While working on his doctoral thesis, he works at the R&D department of Movement and Animation of the Polytechnic University of Valencia. At the same time, he is an emerging digital fantasy illustrator. Sergio tells us, “My work has been published in books like Anima Rpg, launched in Europe and US, where I contribute with design of scenes and characters for their 2 expansions. Samples of my work can be seen in some cards game like Shadow of Omega or Anima Tactics and in an upcoming book of illustrations based on the world of Gaia. I have several works in the book Eye Candy from Strangers 2 from Brand Studio Press (NY) and I have a project to launch a book of illustrations with completely new works for the last quarter of year.
Recently I won the jury prize in the competition of characters’ of Gamestorming creation 2008 and the first prize of characters’ design World of Warcraft in Meristation.com.” Sergio Melero won an international competition to illustrate the cover of Eye Candy from Strangers. You can visit his blog here. So without further ado, here’s his tutorial. Thanks, Sergio!
When you have an important project such as the cover illustration of a digital art book, you have to organize the work carefully. You must pay particular attention to the theme, composition and use of color for the work to be successful. The book Eye Candy from Strangers 2, from Brand Studio Press, is the second book in an annual series showcasing artists selected all over the world. This series focuses on illustrations of women, in a wide range of themes and techniques. When the publishers asked me to make the cover, I immediately got to work selecting the thematic and general composition for the illustration.
First Steps: Sketching The Main Idea
To begin with, I knew the cover of this book should leave a strong visual impression, with an original design and an attractive composition. I began trying out various sketches, and opted for the idea of a portrait for the final composition. At the beginning I thought of the profile view for the girl, because I wanted to dress her in an impressive hat design, inspired by the arabesque forms that decorate many modernist posters. However, a profile placed too much emphasis on the girl’s face, so I opted instead for a three-quarter view.
Digitalization of the Selected Drawing
Once I am happy with the sketch, I proceed to scan the drawing in 300ppi. In Photoshop, I adjust the image size to match the final format of the cover. Next, I need to clean up the line work. For this, I prefer to redraw the whole sketch by hand with a Wacom tablet, on a new layer that I call “line”, to guarantee a perfect clean line before beginning to paint. The details are defined in a more precise way that in the original pencil drawing, eliminating any extraneous elements that might detract from the image.
The process that I use for all my illustrations is, basically, the same one. First I add a new layer to the document that I name “first layer.” Over this I paint with middle tones, without tonal valuation, the whole illustration. The drawing line is above this layer, and the result should be as harmonious as possible, because this is the basis for the look of the final work.
On a new layer, located between the previous one and the layer with the line work, I proceed to value in a basic way the colors of the work, working at the same time for the whole surface of the canvas. Next, I begin to value in a more precise way the lights and the shadows of the illustration in successive layers, located above the line. They will perfect the tonalities and will complete the textures of every surface.
The final details are included in layers dedicated to each, to give a more refined finish to the illustration. I changed the perspective of the body, to see her back and make the pose feeling more dynamic. The background, created on a layer behind all the other ones, is in this case very simple to finish, because with the combination of several paintbrushes and with several tonalities of blue and white, some simple clouds are enough to help the girl’s face (the principal element of the illustration) stand out.
Some Changes for the Final Cover
Once the illustration is finished, it’s time to adapt it to the typography and the book’s format. In this case I considered that it would have more impact if the girl’s face occupied more surface area on the cover. This way, part of the hat would occupy the back cover. This required adding an extra fragment of sky. The final result is shown in the last image; the work is finished and ready for a final proof so that there are no (unpleasant) surprises with the saturation or the tone of the final image.
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