This month I had the opportunity to illustrate my first cover for Variety Magazine (which also happened to be my first cover of any magazine!) with art director,Chuck Kerr. It was a quick turnaround time but I thoroughly enjoyed working with Chuck on the project and am excited to share the results with you. Big thanks to Chuck for the assignment and great art direction and to my agent, Deborah Wolfe, for her help in taking care of so many details so I can focus on illustrating.
When I received the brief and read that I'd be illustrating a roller coaster, I was genuinely excited. There's something about vintage roller wooden roller coasters which just seemed to click with me aesthetically so I thought the pairing of style and subject matter was on point. Chuck sent me the cover template to draw on and I quickly jumped into sketches to came up with a few options, leveraging the old tracks as the main composition element.
After reviewing the sketches, the consensus was the death defying drop of the roller coaster needed to be the most prominent aspect of the illustration. This fit with the article and overall look Variety was after so it was time to jump into digital painting.
As with my typical process, I initially worked in black and white to make sure my lighting and values were working well. This kind of linear approach is something I use so I can focus on one thing at a time and not get overwhelmed by too many things happening at once.
With the flats, lighting, and brushwork in place, it was time to move onto color. I came up with a few options which brought out various aspects of the illustration.
In the end, the sunset image was the winner and our cover was born! Here are a few of the detail shots to see the textures and styling that went into everything:
This particular assignment also came with 2 spot illustrations: a shooting gallery and an exec struggling to lift a hammer for a Test of Strength game. Spot illustrations can be a lot of fun because they challenge me to focus on capturing an idea simply and effectively. These were fun for that same reason, but with the added bonus of subject material I really enjoy drawing.