Monday, February 24, 2014

Pecos Bill: Comic Book Cover Process

Right after Christmas I was invited to contribute a variant cover to the Pecos Bill kid's comic book series created by Brian DuPont. Brian's Pecos Bill series explores the possibility that the legendary Pecos Bill lived throughout the centuries, and still has tall-tale adventures in the modern era. Throw in a steam-powered jet-pack named Widowmaker (created by inventor Nikola Tesla), and you have a pretty exciting adventure series.

The idea really appealed to me, so I went to work on a cover for Issue #3. The style I ended up with was a lot different than the work I usually do, but I was pleased with the finished product. I painted it from start to finish entirely in Photoshop.

Here are some progress shots to give you a small taste of the way this thing was put together:

I started out with a really tiny thumbnail sketch or two, and a digital color comp (that's pretty important in any color work I do. Really serves as a guide when I go into the painting stage).

The linework, completed digitally. This was a new step for me, but digital comic art linework is actually pretty great, especially if you have a brush that has a bit of variance and texture in it to simulate a real pen. I used one from this set by Shaun Bryant: 

This is a pretty big jump from the last image, but hopefully you sort of get the idea. I start out with painting large areas of flat color. Then I use those areas as selections in order to paint details, more color, and texture over the flat color. The background is made up of some gradients, spatter brushes (for stars) and hand-painted comets! (soft brush+texture brush for tail). Nothing fancy!

So there you have it! I had to complete the entire piece in about 3 weeks in order to meet the deadline, so that was a challenge. I look forward to exploring comics further in the future. 

In the meantime, consider contributing to Brian's Kickstarter campaign - you can receive a print copy of my cover if you donate a little more! Check out the campaign here: 

And you can learn more about Brian and his comics here: 


Seth Rosamilia said...

The comets in the background are just the perfect bit of icing on the cake.

Aedan Peterson said...

I love it! The composition is amazing. Great work.

Will Kelly said...

Thanks you two! Seth, the comets were a lot of fun to paint. It was a challenge to make them look realistic (hint: it involved looking at a lot of photo reference).

And Aedan, I really was happy with the composition. I think it really worked well.

I appreciate the comments!

Brittany Du Pont said...

I love seeing the behind-the-scenes process, Will! And again, the lighting is just wonderful on this cover art!