Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cover Art

I was asked by a friend if I could help their band with some art for a CD cover.  That kind of thing makes me really nervous as I usually only make art for my own quirky needs. I don't like the pressure of making things that are dictated by others at all.  But, this is the same friend who has taken our Christmas photographs for the last two years, so I couldn't say no.  I explained that I worked best from photos and would need a very clear image of what they wanted.  I also explained that if it wasn't what they wanted, then they needed to be honest about that and we could either keep working at it or they could find a different way to go.
The general idea was an old cowboy sitting at a bar, telling stories.  My friend wanted the old cowboy to be motioning with his hands, like you do when you say "and it was THIS big".  I found a vintage bar image with a bartender to use as the background pretty easily.  I projected that and traced the basic lines.  Finding the old cowboy in the perfect pose to be both at a bar and motioning with his hands proved much more challenging. I found a modern picture of a guy, photographed from the back, resting his elbows on a bar. It was as close as I could find so I projected and traced it.
Many of our conversations revolved around an old cowboy feel, but also sort of an abstract look.  I got an idea to collage some printed paper from an old book onto the picture to give some instant age and texture.  I also chose sepia tones to add to the vintage feel. I also began adjusting the man's arms, but was having to free hand it, so it isn't really worked out yet.
Next I worked in some pastels to darken the values and bring in some details.  I was mostly working from my imagination here, which always makes me less confident.  The arms still weren't right, so my friend took a picture of someone in the pose that he wanted and that helped a lot.
Here is the improved hand gesture with some older cowboy details.  At this point we were getting close.
I added a few more bottles to finish out the background and I was planning to meet up with my friend to discuss if any changes needed to be made.  Unfortunately, that was the day that everyone in my house came down with a stomach virus.  I left the artwork where my friend could easily get it and, not hearing anything else about it, assumed it was workable.
The CD has just been released on the band's website and with it, is the finished cover art!  I hope they like it.  I am not as personally invested in this piece as I usually am in my work, mostly because it wasn't my idea or desire to make it, but I am glad that it worked for them!

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