This year I had an opportunity to work with a game company on a board game cover illustration with some really fun subject material: Space! Big thanks to my agent, Deborah Wolfe, for all her help with this project. A good agent like Deborah is so valuable in helping out with this business and I'm grateful to be able to work with her.
For a bigger view of these images, check out the post on my site:
After receiving the brief from the client, I produced a handful of sketches as I explored various layouts and points of focus. The idea was to show chunks of land in space which were being terraformed by our intrepid space explorers.
Typically with these kinds of assignments, I like to develop sketches which showcase various aspects as the focal point - whether its the lands, the ships, or the explorers themselves. After much discussion, it was decided the terraform ship would be the center of focus with the space explorer taking a less prominent position in the foreground.
Once the final pencils were established, it was time to move onto painting! If you've seen these kinds of breakdowns from me before, you know that I work 100% digitally using Adobe Photoshop, and custom pressure sensitive brushes with a Wacom Cintiq. I work in black and white initially to get a better sense of my lighting and depth within the illustration as well.
For the black and white values on this piece, I really wanted to bring a lot of light into the bottom of the piece to show the terraform machine in action. This kind of lighting was fun to explore and helped enhance the overall look of the piece. It also gave me enough black at the top of the illustration to show stars and a few planets in the background.
With the black and white values in place, I moved onto color. For this particular illustration, lots of time was spent working with the client as we tried to find the right color palette for the piece. We ended up developing a number of palettes, all of which I enjoy for different reasons.
Color can be a tricky thing to get right, which is why I keep everything on layers and can make adjustments as needed. The nice thing is by this point, I've already developed the composition, brushwork, and lighting so it all comes down to finding the right colors to do the job.
Final Thoughts
I had a great time working on this one. With these kinds of pieces, I really enjoy layering in lots of fun details which don't instantly jump out at you until you begin to look closely. I always enjoyed seeing work like that as a kid and have tried to bring that into my illustrations as a professional - though there's still a long way to go! Here are some of the details of this particular piece:
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