The process for making a cover can take a while because it has to please many people: the author and illustrator, the editor, the art director, the designer, sales and marketing, and in the end, the booksellers, parents, and reader. The cover has to look good on a bookshelf, or no one will pick it up. It also has to look good on social media, and even as a tiny thumbnail on a catalog—it has to catch the buyer’s eye. As with the rest of the book's art, cover ideas begin as many little sketches called...
I edited my ideas down to about nine, added a bit of color, and sent a page of small thumbnails to the editor and art director to see which ideas they liked best.
The art director chose a few. She liked number 5 (second row, center) because the focus was on C. S. Lewis, but we could also see the wardrobe and all of the characters behind him. But she also liked that in number 4, the characters were coming out of the wardrobe. We decided to combine the two: have the lion coming out of the wardrobe, a mouse on top of the table, and C. S. Lewis sitting in front of the wardrobe.
The art director asked for a tighter sketch of this idea. Back to the drawing table.
Sometimes, I like to draw the elements separately and put them together in Photoshop. That way, I can move things around more easily to see what works best.
I sent the art director some finished sketches...
We decided that in this one, the lion looked too friendly, so...
I made him a little fiercer. Then, the art director sent these two sketches to the sales and marketing department:
But marketing decided that a lion coming out of the wardrobe might be too confusing for the reader, because the lion never actually comes out of the wardrobe in the Narnia Chronicles. They were fine with leaving the mouse on the table, but they preferred him standing instead of running. So, I made some revisions, moving the lion inside and shrinking him down quite a bit. I also moved the beavers back and added a queen in the forest. I made some adjustments to Jack’s ears and mouth. This was the final approved sketch:
In the very beginning of the process, I sent the art director an example of what I envisioned for the title lettering. I liked the idea of medieval, Celtic letters, so I drew a sample:
She liked the direction I was heading in, and said she would hire a calligrapher to hand letter the title. Here was the final result!--
On to the colors...
The designer and editor then asked about the colors I would be using. They requested bright colors and high contrast.
I sent along a digitally colored sketch to the designer, telling him that the colors would be much brighter:
I had considered doing a white background, similar to my first book, FREE AS A BIRD, but we decided it would look too stark. So the designer mocked up a few versions of the color sketch with different colors behind it: cream, purple, blue. In the end, the team decided on a shade of blue:
I offered to do a few washes in blue acrylic paints for the background, separate from the cover image, that we could combine digitally later on. Finally, everything was approved! I had about a week or two for...
I got out my inks and acrylic paints...
Oh wait! The case cover!
Before I show you the final cover result, I want to tell you about the case cover! So, a case cover is like a second cover that goes underneath the dust jacket. From the start, I knew that I wanted the case cover to be the wardrobe doors. Thankfully, the case cover doesn't really have to be approved by anyone except the art director, designer and/or editor.
This is a picture of C. S. Lewis' wardrobe:
Because the doors are narrower than the dimensions of the book, I had to trim them for the cover.
It was approved! So I went to final:
It was then time to mail the final art. I sent it 2-day priority, so it actually got there pretty quickly. But I'm always a little nervous until the art arrives safely at the publishing house.
Finally, the cover...
Not too long after, the designer put everything together, added the beautiful hand-lettered title, and sent me the files:
I hope you found this interesting and useful!
Thank you to all who were involved in the process-- Publishing team: Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins Editor: Kristin Rens Art Director: Dana Fritts Designer: Neil Swaab Letterer: Leah Palmer Preiss