Thursday, 21 March 2013

IDW Covers: Judge Dredd Year One #3

Judge Dredd Year One #3 (IDW, June 2013)
Cover art by Dave Sim
I had a brainstorm -- while I was working on David Philpott's "Church & State Wall" commission a couple of years ago -- of getting an oval picture mat cut for myself at the framing place at the Frederick Street Mall and then using it as a template to create the outline for an oval commission.  A way of breaking up the wall which was composed of square and rectangular pieces.  So, it's just sitting there and every once in a while I think: I really should USE that for something, again.  And I just happened to think of that while I was standing at the light table with the JUDGE DREDD YEAR ONE full cover logo lettering, thinking: what can I do here that would be interesting?  And the mat was sitting behind the pad of tracing paper. And I thought, oh how about an oval inset?  I can do the full sized lettering outside and then reduced lettering inside.  And then I thought, wow, it would be great if I had different-sized ovals.  And I thought, well, why not just reduce the oval on the photocopier?  And then reduce the lettering by the same amount?

So that was what I did, tracing off the successive ovals and then the successive lettering and then transferring them and then inking them.  And by the time I had the effect created, I had room for just this little dinky figure of Judge Dredd in the lower right.  It looked cool, but I had this vision of Chris Ryall saying, "Uh, Dave, we're paying you to DRAW a cover with SOME lettering, not LETTER a cover with SOME drawing."  And then cutting my rate to whatever he would figure they were paying for lettering (if 90% of the lettering today wasn't done on computer).  Oh, well.

Trying for an "All-Out Neal" (if you have to ask "Neal who?" go to your room) cover I hit it lucky with the figure, starting with Dredd's left arm. It looked like a Neal arm from the git-go, all the way down to the semi-clenched curled-in fingers and thumb. So then all I had to do was to stick a Neal-like figure in behind it and then Not Screw It Up in the inking. A Not Screw It Up cover is always more satisfying to work on than a How Can I Save This? cover.

Where I really slowed down was on the background.  I had a background roughed in but it was just a rough sketch that I was trying to rough in and then tighten up.  And, as Gerhard can tell you, backgrounds don't WORK like that. You don't do it roughly and tighten it up like you do a figure. You need to start with the horizon line and a vanishing point and a ruler and put all the straight lines in and then draw the background within that context.  Duh.  A duh I never managed to get past.  I know ROUGHLY where the vanishing point is.  So I worked for a couple of hours with my rough vanishing point.  And then finally erased everything, put in my vanishing point and horizon line and straight lines and I was off to the races.  The intact MegaCity One in the outside ovals and the MegaCity One in ruins in the inside oval. VERY Neal, I thought. "Carmine? I've got your STRANGE ADVENTURES cover done."  

And when I got my fax from Chris he was VERY happy with it, remarking that it looked like a lot of work but that the fans would appreciate that. Not a word about cutting my pay rate.

So I'm tempted now to just letter my covers and leave dinky little spaces for the characters.

And only do bizarre other-worldly backgrounds where there are multiple vanishing points and only vague non-ruler ink lines.

Uh, not really.  What I'm learning to do is to put way more time in on the vanishing point and the horizon line at the outset.  But I am -- as Gerhard can tell you -- a VERY SLOW learner.

Most of this one was inked with a magnifying glass and a brand new Hunt 102 pen nib and diluted black ink.  I've really got to get one of those magnifier jeweller's lamps for the drawing board.

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