Lou Anders’ blog, Bowing to the Future, reminded me of this powerful Todd Lockwood painting for Tom Lloyd’s The Stormcaller. (The Stormcaller is due out from Pyr Books in October—they are currently featuring an extended excerpt on their sample chapters blog.)
I asked Todd and Lou if they would share their process with us, they were both very generous with their time and gave us an in-depth step-by-step.
From Lou Anders:
I’ve been wanting to work with Todd for a long time now, being a big admirer of his work but not having the right project. When Tom Lloyd’s The Stormcaller came across my desk, with its intense battle sequences and grim and gritty action, I knew I’d been afforded the perfect opportunity, but the cover surpassed even my expectations. It captures so many elements of the book perfectly, drawing the reader in while spoiling nothing. Well, okay, you know there’s going to be a dragon in the book—but what a dragon!
From Todd Lockwood:
The sketches were done quickly in Painter in grayscale, then colored up a bit in Photoshop. The first five Lou and I discussed, then I pulled the best elements of all of them into the sixth (below) sketch, trying to bear in mind the needs of front cover, back cover, and the entire composition.
I ghosted the sketch back on a separate layer in Painter as a guide to the placement of the basic elements and started the drawing. This was one of the rare pieces in which I didn’t use models:
An underpainting was generated using transparent digital media. At this point my main focus is on developing and preserving the warm/cool, dark/light relationships from the sketch:
Then areas were detailed, as the whole received adjustment glazes and spot color. Working digitally, I like to work the same way I paint in oils, using transparent media for shadows and vibrant color areas, then building highlights up with opaque pigment. In Painter, those ideas still have merit, which is one of the things I love about Painter:
The final. Also a variant I created for prints in which I rotated the whole thing, in order to put the dragon and main character in the “sweet spot,” get rid of the too-horizontal orientation of the top of “the pile,” and added another figure to fill a resulting hole: