Johnny Saturn Cover Production Part 4

by Scott Story

Welcome back for the Cover Production wrap up! My name is Scott Story, and I’m an author and artist from the Midwest. I’m probably best known as the artist and co-writer of Johnny Saturn, but you might have seen my work in any number of indie comics over the years. In this installment, I am finishing my demonstration for how I created the cover for my third graphic novel, Johnny Saturn: Intelligent Redesign.

Compositing II

We are at that magical moment in the project when we bring all the characters together, and we arrange them into a pleasing composition. This can be so much fun! You can arrange and rearrange elements as you see fit, tweeking positions until everything looks just right.

If you work like this, compositing from multiple sources, I’m going to give you a heads up–you don’t want to flatten each character and reduce them to a single layer, because you still want the reserve the right to go back and make corrections on specific levels. So, I keep the layers of my three characters intact.

There are a couple ways you could handle this when your combine the pictures into one, because if you don’t you will have a whole bunch of layers that conflict with each other–it’s a mess! That way lies insanity!

If you are working Clip Studio like I am, you can put each character (and all their layers) into folders. Now, as you make changes to the images, you use layer masks on the folder as a whole, not the individual layers. This way, if you want, say, to erase a character’s leg to better fit him into the composition, use a layer mask on the folder to remove the leg, and the art and layers within the folder are unchanged.

There’s a whole world of information I could go into about compositing, but another time I guess.

Special Effects

Not a lot of special effects on this picture.

First, I used a correction layer to turn down the saturation and turn up the lighting. The original art was just too dark and rich for my tastes. There was no place for the eye to rest, and the colors were crowding each other out.

Then, on the crystal skull, I created some oval waves of energy that radiated around it. This was simply using the oval tool combined with the airbrush tool. Next came a little lens flare, and I used the old trick of making an all black layer, setting it screen mode, and placing the flair on it, above the line and ink art. I used the color hold method I mentioned in the last installment of the article to turn the skull’s ink art to blue, and then also painted in some blue rim lighting. Voila–glowing crystal skull!

End Result

And, here we have it! I could have gone any number of directions with this illustration, but this is the one that won out. From this cover I also got a convention banner display and bookmarks, so I got the most bang for my creative buck.

There is so much more I would have liked to have touched on, and I could have drilled down into any one of these topics to show you the gears that drive the machine. If these examples weren’t. clear, feel free to hit me up for further explanation. Some of it might be good for future articles.

Scott Story

Scott describes himself as an author, artist, medievalist, mentor, musician, publisher, introvert, and historian, not necessarily in that order. So far he has published dozens of comics, multiple graphic novels, and prose novels, and he has contributed art to scores of comic publishers and and multiple prose anthologies.