UY Book 30: Thieves and Spies cover process

Here is a step-by-step look at the making of the cover to UY Book 30: Thieves and Spies. It was done on 4-ply 500 series Strathmore cold press bristol. The art is approximately 8.5×12.5 inches.

I laid out the pencils very loosely using a 2H 3mm mechanical pencil. I am just concerned with creating shapes here for composition. It is easy to make changes at this stage. You can see I decided against the original angle of Usagi’s sword.

Still using the 2H pencil, but getting more defined.

I switched to a 5mm HB pencil to finish up the pencils.

Inking done with a Koh-i-Noor ArtPen which was discontinued about 15 years ago. It has a nice flex to the nib, giving a variation in line weight that makes it interesting to look at. I used Badger Black Opaque ink, old formula. The formula was changed to an acrylic base about 5 years ago. I don’t like their new recipe but, fortunately, still have a few bottles of the old stuff. As you can see, I decided against the whiskers on the left side of the guy on the right. It was too close to the other guy’s sword.

Here it is erased

I needed to “mask” certain areas of the art to protect it from the watercolor paints. I coated the art and a sheet of tracing paper with rubber cement, waited for them to dry, then laid the tracing paper over the art. I used an X-acto knife to trim the areas needed to be protected.

Here, I am peeling off the tracing paper, exposing the areas I want to paint. I used a rubber cement pick-up to clean off the rubber cement.

Background painted with watercolors.

I used color pencils to reinforce background colors, and used my pen to add some black embers.

I used an old toothbrush to splatter on white paint to add texture.

Peeling away the rest of the mask from the artwork.

The entire mask removed, except for the borders and signature box.

Working on the figures.

Added color to the clothing, and colored the signature box.

I added patterns to the clothing, and used a white Uniball Signo pen to add embers in the background.

Peeled off the border mask, and finished.