This project starts with me busting my knee in a climbing acident. Irene Gallo, art director for Tor Books and creative director for Tor.com, called me for a project during Thanksgiving week and, truth be told, I wasn’t going anywhere for a while; so why not work on an illustration for a wicked story?
Thumbnails flowed easily this time around. (They normally do with stories from Tor.com, they take the cookie on matching stories with illustrators.) Sometimes the mood of the story matches perfectly with the artist’s work, sometimes it’s the characters, or the setting. Whatever it may be, with their projects, there’s always something evident for one to latch onto. After a single read, I had collected plenty of concepts to work with, the main theme being a juxtaposition of inorganic over organic.
The second sketch was chosen. I then sent Irene a somewhat cleaned/incomplete inked drawing. I’ll explain why
Here’s what I showed Irene
Here’s what the complete one looked like
I hate to leave my art directors treading on too much faith. They’re already putting a lot of trust in me by handing me a project, best not to push it. This time, it was easier to say “looks a bit empty now, but the background will be filled out” than “I’ll make some sense of this mess, please trust me.”
While on this stage we went over some tweaks on Cinder’s mouth. When working with linework, any tiny detail makes a giant difference. Irene pointed out that the lines describing her philtrum and upper lip gave her the appearance of a more mature woman. In the end, we decided to remove them altogether since we were aiming to make her look like the young teenager that the character is.
After a couple of color schemes, we chose the green dress. By the time I was done with this illo, my knee was back to normal (ish), so I’m back to finding new ways to destroy my body against a wall.
Goni Montes began his career as a scientific illustrator. His work now tilts towards editorial and advertising illustration. His pieces have been featured in professional and student shows for both Society of Illustrators Los Angeles and New York.