For the cover of Prog 1752, D'Israeli has channelled the spirit of Eighteenth Century Japanese artist and print maker Hokusai to produce this absolutely stunning cover! He has an excellent article on it's production on his blog which you'll find here, however he also held back images and a special step by step for this very blog, saying "On my blog I've talked about process, but I thought a full step-by-step would go better on yours, which is the proper place for such things!" Wahoooooo, I'm geeking out!!!
So, without further ado, let's get going. Matt tells us "The figure comes from the print 'Musahshi Goro Sadayo Dies in Battle at the Age of Fifteen’ from the Illustrated Book of Heroes of China and Japan in the Style of Katsushika." You can see the tragic figure below...
He continues "The background landscape on the left comes from ‘Aoigaoka Waterfall at Edo’ from A Tour of Japanese Waterfalls..." Note the colours here, they're important late on!
"Next we see the reference image placed in a Manga Studio EX 4 file along with a 2000AD cover template."
Matt continues "Rough pencils on a new layer above the reference image. I’m tracing key details like the face and pose and changing other aspects such as the clothing." This image features the début of the brilliant Tesqueaux bag!
With the roughs done, it's time to check in with Tharg... "This is what was sent to Matt Smith for approval..."
With the okay from Matt S, Matt B gets on with some refinements on the image "Unusually, I didn’t do “proper” pencils on this one - All the really important detail like the face and hands was in the reference image. I just tidied up the background buildings a bit and added some patterns to Frank’s clothing. Difficult drawing buildings in “non-perspective!”
With the refinements about done, D'Israeli begins to ink the image. "Inking on a new layer. I mostly used Manga Studio’s pen tool, with heavier brush tool lines on the folds of Frank’s clothing, in imitation of Hokusai’s technique."
The next image features ' Just the inks'. In his notes D'Israeli suggests "Pete - this, or the previous image may be redundant" which is proof that the artist is indeed insane, both images simply have to be seen!!!
Next Matt adds the flat colour "Manga Studio’s Paint Bucket tool can ignore small gaps in lines, so it’s MUCH faster to drop in areas of flat colour using that than Photoshop. I’m using chunks of bright, well-differentiated colour that I can grab and fill with the actual colours in Photoshop (which is much better at mixing colours). After this stage, I export the file in .psd format with layers intact and start work in Photoshop CS 4."
D'Israeli adds some authentic colour in Photoshop. He says "Adding the true colours in Photoshop, many of them sampled from scans of Hokusai prints to get the right feel. Gradations added on the ground, sky and Frank’s coat. (just noticed, I hadn’t finished colouring Frank’s shoes in this one!)" Looking at the image below and the Aoigaoka Waterfall image at the top of the page you can begin to see some of the colours...
Finally, D'Israeli tinkers with the colours and adds some of his mind boggling, trademark textures. He says "Added: Grot to Frank’s flesh using a Photoshop texture brush. Overall subtle texture added to imply paper texture. Image opened in Corel Painter and Simple Water blender brush used to “muss up” over perfect gradations in background.
Return to Photoshop, export as flat CMYK TIFF and upload to 2000AD FTP server. Done!"And there we have it, a genuinely beautiful cover by an artist at the absolute top of his game. Thank you so, so much to Matt for sending the files and taking the time to write the frankly brilliant commentary (no pun intended.) It's truly an event every time D'Israeli does a cover, how on earth is he going to top this one?
Please, if you only visit one blog this year, visit Matt's, it's absolutely brilliant.