Friday, January 27, 2012

1st Cover - 'The Hobbit'

Hey, guys, here is the in-prog work for my first portfolio cover piece. I am doing 11 covers to various books. I have supplied the first sketch, sans reference (I still need to shoot pics for this whole thing), along with a colour study featuring where I would like the text to be placed. Any feedback would be much appreciated. The cover will be in oils, but I am doing most of my process work in the computer. Thanks, folks!


P.S. As I worked with this image, I was very unsure of how to proceed. There are some images I don't mind filling the whole cover. Others just don't seem to fit the bill. I also kept thinking, 'Even if I liked this painting, I would not pick this book up off the shelf. I started thinking of all the books I like and what is aesthetically pleasing to me. This final cover layout will change, somewhat, but this is pretty much it. I'll likely do my own text, probably based off of the writing on the map inside the book. Or I may just do something based off of this type-face. I really enjoy it. As for the back cover, I knew I wanted something designy, but related to the front cover in some way. Smaug likely won't break the frame in the final, but this is what I was thinking, in a nut shell. Smaug curled around his pile of gold, his smoke and tail (or maybe just the smoke) curling around the border. Either way, the back image will be bound by the same border as the front. Also, not too keen on the black I used for the text and border around the front cover image. I'll probably choose something more subtle.


  1. Nice work, Justin!

    There was some discussion earlier about whether book covers should resemble movie posters or leave more to the imagination. Since this is more of a showcase of your skills and everyone knows the story, I think this ensemble cast approach makes sense.

    There are two things that are sticking out at me and it may be just me:
    1. I know your type is only a placeholder, but if you are going to give it a fanciful medieval treatment, you may not want to wait till the last minute. Scrolls and flourishes take up lots of space.

    2. What Bilbo looks like is wide open to interpretation, but he's a very humble unassuming character. Here he looks a bit too suave and confident —a hybrid of Peter Falk and Arthur Fonzarelli. I'd make him less studly.

  2. lol. I agree with you, there, Chuck. I was just saying to someone else, I need to un-buff Bilbo a bit :P Plus, the way I have his hair blowing, he looks a bit like Elvis. Also, I have been concepting for this a lot. I wondered about the poster-esque quality of this image... I may scrap the whole thing ans start from scratch. Still really early in the development stage, here. I may just make a scene from the book the cover.

  3. And, I was leaving the text blank since the art directour would likely have their hand in that part of the process, finding a graphic designer and all that. I didn't want to be too presumptuous. But I guess, this is my project, so I can be whatever I want :P

  4. I wouldn't scrap this at all!
    It's very hard to compose a scene with lots of characters and I think you are showing off a skill that you handle very well. I think you do hand-drawn type well too, so go for it. Many illustrators create their own typography. I get asked to do it all the time. Even if the lettering is left off, you can create scrolls and parchments where it could go.
    I don't see any problem with Bilbo's build or the hair either. I was reacting mostly to the smoldering expression with the eyebrows.

    This is your project and it is your chance to do whatever you want —take advantage.

  5. Thanks, Chuck. I did soften his expression :P Smoldering... did you see this? Worth a look. Very whimsical and entertaining, despite the deviation. I almost wished that Jackson had taken MORE liberties. His movies were like that weird CGI that mimics, but not quite masters, reality. It was just awkward. I knew it was Tolkien, but it wasn't enough one way or another to sell me completely. However, there were definitely those moments, sublime glimpses of Tolkien's world that glimmer through the mud and miasma of Peter Jackson's 'vision'. Still interesting for what they were. But not my favourites. The soundtrack rocks :P

  6. Wow! I never knew that a Gene Deitch version existed. Crazy! Thanks for posting the link.

    1. No problem, Chuck! It was very interesting, to say the least :P

  7. I also just noticed something I can't believe I forgot about... The hair on Bilbo's hands. The tufts are on the feet only, not the hands. I don't know why I always want to add them to his hands, too. Weird.