Friday, March 10, 2017

Project: Book Cover Art for 'In The Crosshairs' by Robert Gonko

Author Robert Gonko commissioned cover art for his new novel. This is the second cover I have done for him. 

His 13-year old daughter did the concept art this time. With the art direction already prepared, I did not need to do any sketches before starting production. 

I began with the outline of the police shield badge and used 3ds Max to create splines, then used the Surface modifier to fill in the shape. 

I next did a test of the bump map using some clip art as a placeholder. I set up some lights to see the surface better as I started work on the vector art for the shield. 

Using the clip art as a rough guide, I used Adobe Illustrator to make a grayscale bump map. 

After some guidance from the author, I settled on a navigational "rosette" for the center of the shield. The fictional city of Port Mason straddles a river. 

Police badges are commonly silver and gold, so using the bump map art as a starting point, I created the simple color scheme. 

At this point we held a client review and Robert was very happy with the artwork. With the texture work completed, I moved on to refine the modeling of the shield, adding an edge shape to the Shell modifier using a custom spline. I then duplicated the resulting object, and moved the copy below the original and scaled it up slightly, to act as the shield backing. I used a procedural texture for the backing, creating a subtle, slightly weathered black leather appearance. 

A few test renders followed, using lighting and shadows. I used four lights in the scene, two of which were colored red and blue, to evoke a police car's rooftop flashing lights. To avoid casting colored shadows, I turned off the shadow casting for the colored lights. Because the render would cover the front and back of the book, I positioned the shield to the right of the image so that it could be positioned in the center of the front cover. I added the new art to the book cover document in Photoshop, using the font and layout established in the previous cover design. At this point, the back cover text had not been changed yet. 

After further review, Robert asked for a deeper, richer blue for the fabric that the shield was laying upon. I rendered three versions with changes to the surface gloss and specular level, lighting, and shallow vs. deep depth of field. 

Robert selected a shallow depth of field and a higher level of gloss and specular material. Changes included making Robert's first and last name closer in size than the previous cover per his request, and I decided to not add the actual cross-hair overlay to the design, because it would have been too cluttered and a bit too "on the nose." Since the back cover text was made up of longer paragraphs, I elected to left-justify the text instead of centering it. The final cover art was completed, and I also made a Facebook banner for his author page

Here is what the book looks like when it is shipped to you! 

Robert's new book is now available at the following link: