As you know, all the artwork for Thomas Riley was done by Will Routon. He has done some really awesome work for me in the past for Fallon,(which I will blog about in the future)and again he knocks it out of the park with his concepts, imagination and pure freaking skill.
Another cool feature Will brings to the table (no he is not an action figure) is that he can visualize from written descriptions. Every time he does work, I send him a character description and we talk a little (usually over some sushi & sake.)about what I am looking for. What happens next is Will uses his secret power where he can actually crawl into my mind and see exactly what I am thinking. Every character or scene he has drawn has come back as a freakishly identical model of how I envisioned the characters.
I am going to show you the process, well, because it is really cool!
First off, Will made a show piece from my character descriptions. Here, he jumped right into the genre with a daguerreotype portrait. It looks like he did this with a pen...
After making sure he had nailed the characters down (and indeed he did), Will moved on to an actual scene which we had discussed. I wanted it to have a movie poster style. Here is one of his first sketches.
The Next Step was adding texture, light and details to the sketch. You can see the characters and derigibles take shape. He also removed the robot which he just thought was cool but unfortuneatley was not in the story. I think the expressions also are a wonderul indication of their personality. Even in the first show piece, you can get an idea of what Thomas and Cynthia are like.
Then out of nowhere, Will brings the illustration to a new level, adding a lot more lighting effects, clouds, depth and balance to the composition. Notice that he armored and modified the derigible which is how they are in the novel. Again he must have gotten into my head, becasue I don't recall telling him that. I was giddy when I received the first sketch, by now I was beside myself with excitement.
Finally, Will litterally goes above and beyond. He puts more depth in the clouds, gives Thomas and Cynthia belts, armlets, and gadgets as well as frontal cannons on the derigible. I still marvel over the lighting in Cynthia's hair and the filigree details in her corset and sleeves. Go on, look closely. There are 100 details which I personally see more and more of each time I look at this. Notice the relfection in the goggles, and the tear drop shaped windows. The list could go on and on. At this point, the illustration looks more like a photo than it does a cartoon.
Keep in mind this didn't happen overnight. This took a little over two months as Will spent countless hours on this piece. There were about 12 other reenditions of this with tweaks and little changes that I opted not to show you because I am pretty sure you got the point. I hope you enjoyed this little walk through of what it took to make the cover for Thomas Riley. The best part about it is that instantly the reader knows what to expect from the story without reading a single page. I wish Will had a website so I could link you to him, but he doesn't. He is a true artist that does what he loves while avoiding a lot of internet presence. Then again, judge for yourself. With this kind of talent, does he really need a web site?