Friday, April 3, 2015

Requiem Sonata Cover process

I recently finished the first chapter of Requiem Sonata after taking a short hiatus form it. Life has been lifelike but I'm ready to drop back into the regular groove of comics again. So here's my process materials for the cover!

Zhi is a troubled young pianist and often times what she says, what she does, and what her face telegraphs are contradictory. In order to get that across, I wanted to display on the cover the various facets of her personality. I then split the two in half to create this awkward cuts for the cover. Why use them if they're awkward? Because I want the reader to feel like something is wrong, get them feeling like something is false in her expression. I believe that there are "rules" to good illustrations, but I think breaking those rules can be just as effective. Yeah, I'm punk like that (not really).

To deal with the uneasy feeling of the actual art, I decided to go with simple text and one color to make it very easy to read. I think what could be damning for a cover like this where I'm trying to show unease is having something overly complicated that just makes the art look like I don't know what I'm doing. By making the cover this simple, with all this negative space and having one color, everything feels more deliberate. I hope so at least. I chose a duotone for the cover because honestly, I love it! I love black and white images and swapping out the black for a color changes so much about the image in infinite ways. In the original inks, she's just there, but with this desaturated red-brown, it conveys a lot more about the tone of the book than just a simple black and white image. I will do covers like this whenever possible, mainly because I prefer simple images to convoluted ones. I like a cover with fancy details and all that, but a cover that evokes the spirit of the book will always win out to me over something that is just a technically sound but emotionally hollow image. I wrestle with this a LOT in my comic covers, they're the hardest part for me, and sometimes I strike gold. But even if this is fools gold, I'm happy to be tricked by it.

Thank you for reading! I hope it was informative, I want to do more process posts like this so leave a comment if you liked it, share it too, and consider following me if you have a blogger account! Either way, thank you!

EDIT: I got some feedback from my friend Celin, and made some changes to the text on the back cover. I moved all of the social media stuff to the last past page of the book. Thank you for the advice!

Tools: Zebra Fine Brush Pens, Copic Multiliners, and the Pentel Color Brush.
Paper: Stillman and Birn Alpha sketchbook
Colors and Text: Photoshop CS5


  1. I love the idea of the cover you presented in this post. it's clean, sophisticated and, somehow, taunts possible reader. It's quite suspenseful piece - actually, the more I stare into both eyes - the sarcastic, beginning of the story, Zhi and emotionless, end of the story, Zhi - the more intrigued I feel about her and the plot surrounding her.

    you've got my attention.

    BUT, in my opinion, while the front cover looks good, the back cover is a mess. The font itself is all right, but there is too much going on with various sizes of it, which ruin the elegance of the drawings.
    I think it’s easily fixable (if you see it, as I do, as a flaw) if you just move copyright, contact information and ‘thank you’s to a masthead.

    1. Thank you for your comment! In truth, I was hoping that the back with all it's info would read as "complicated" as the back cover is more her true mindset. However, I don't want it to look bad and I have time to revise it. What's the masthead that you referred to?

    2. The power of this cover is that both sides, front and back, are correlating with each other. If you undermine, one side, the other looses it’s impact - It becomes just an illustration. So, how I see it, you should design both sides that none of them becomes more “truer” than the other.

      I think the more precise word will be a "colophon" rather than a "masthead"(?) I was referring to a space/page in the book (in some short comic books I saw them printed on an inner side of the cover) were all the necessary information about the publication are listed, like authors (sometimes also their contact info), translators, year and place of publication, publishing house (and/or printing house), ISBN, and copyright. Sometimes even information about a type and weight of the paper the book was printed on. Stuff like that.

    3. I made changes to the cover based on your recommendations. Thank you for the help!


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