Friday, October 28, 2016

Radiant Colors and Palette

 by Howard Lyon

I have added a few colors to my palette lately and I have found them to be quite useful so I thought I would share them here.  I really prefer a very simple arrangement (though it might not look like it). 

Some colors are on the palette because they are critical, while others are what I would call "convenience colors".  The Radiant line from Gamblin falls into this category.  The line is composed of 8 colors:

You can mix colors very close to these (though I do think these are a little more intense than what you could get, possibly from the pigment being ground as opposed to just mixed in) but these are awfully convenient.  I arrange them in a similar string as the darker colors on my palette, which is a New Wave Art palette, which I love.  I specifically use the Expressionist Confidant.

The 'Radiant' colors are laid out along the inner ring of colors along with white 

Each of the yellow, red and blue colors come in a warm and cool relative temperature, plus a green and purple.  These colors have been especially nice for flesh.  I can warm or cool my mixes with color that is already closer to my target in value.

The colors are all similar in consistency and seem to have drying times all within the same range.  The turquoise and the purple might dry slightly faster, but I haven't been very scientific in my observations.

You can find the Radiant colors at many art stores.  Here are links straight to the paint:

Dick Blick
Cheap Joes
Jerry's Artarama
Amazon - See the list at the top of the post for links to the individual tubes on Amazon

Thanks for giving this post a read and I hope you found it useful!

Howard Lyon


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Subconscious Inspiration

By Lauren Panepinto

Apologies in advance, tonight's post is going to be a quickie, because I am home sick fighting off a nasty case of con crud I picked up at IlluXcon last weekend in Reading, PA.

Recently I had a conversation in which an illustrator, curious about what Art Directors do, asked me how I come up with ideas for covers. And I honestly had to think about it for a bit, because there's really 2 components: Conscious and Subconscious. Consciously, I think about what genre/subgenre the book is, then what the current trends are for that genre. I think about the target audience for the book and what other media they might be consuming and influenced by. Of course I think about the content of the book, and the author's other works. Budget and schedule have to be taken into account. Consciously I will decide, with the editorial team, whether a cover should be design-based, photo-based, or illustration-based. Consciously I will pick freelance artists to work with, if needed.

All that makes sense right?

The Subconscious side of it comes in not so much as decisions, but more like currents in the ocean that are moving you towards things without you realizing you're being pushed by a current at all. I like to think of the process like a surfer: Your Conscious mind is the surfer on the board, and the Unconscious is the ocean, full of waves and currents. When you surf, you're not sitting there calculating the wind speed and mathematical curves of a wave, you're just trying to move with the wave and hang on.

An artist's subconscious is drinking in inspiration all the time. Ideally every museum you visit, every piece of art you see, every other book cover, all that visual information turns into a soup in the back of your brain. If you keep that soup well-fed, it will affect what you're doing consciously. It's like the old adage that you are what you eat. An artist is often made up of everything they see, mixed into a stew, and left to ferment subconsciously. And when you start to work on a creative project, whatever your medium, then that soup makes waves and currents to affect your work.

Here's a recent example: I was working on a cover for James Islington. It's a big epic fantasy book called The Shadow of What Was Lost. We decided that Dominick Saponaro would be a great illustrator for the cover. We felt he did solid epic fantasy scenes and characters, but in a fresh more modern style. Dominick sent in some great thumbs, we went forward, and he started working on the values in grayscale. Something clicked at that stage, and I got very excited and started playing with the layout at that stage. I didn't know why, but the painting in grayscale was really begging me to design with it.

And after a little playing, then asking Dom to finish the painting as a grayscale piece, we got here:

It's a great package, everyone was really happy with it, and it looks fantastic printed on the final book:

Editor Will Hinton showing off the printed hardcover

We even did the case cover in orange!

And the book has been in house now a few weeks, and then I was at Illuxcon talking to people about our big artist trip a few years back to the Brandywine Museum a few years ago, where I soaked up a ton of Wyeth family art. Especially N. C. Wyeth. And I remembered one of my favorite images from that trip:

I hadn't thought of it at the time, but subconsciously, that image had absolutely been inspiration for the Shadow of What was Lost cover.

And with that having moved out of the dark of my subconscious and into my conscious mind, I came home and was unpacking, and looked up at the poster that hangs right over my bed:

One of my favorite pieces of both graphic design and surf culture: John Van Hammersveld 1964 poster for The Endless Summer movie. This is actually my dad's original poster. (He taught me how to surf.) And I laughed, because of course that totally influenced the book cover as well.

I hadn't consciously thought of either of these images, but they had influenced and directed that book cover. And that's the best way to use inspiration — subconsciously. You're not consciously copying anything, it's just melted into you and comes out through your personal filter and skills, back out into the world in a new way.

So there you go, a little peek into the inside of my brain. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Big 5 Publishers

The "Big Five" is an industry nickname for the 5 large companies that own just about every publishing imprint in the United States. It used to be "The Big Six", but Random House and Penguin recently merged creating 'Penguin Random House'. So, even though as an illustrator you may aspire to someday work for Tor Books, you are technically working for MacMillan Publishing.

Not coincidentally, every one of the Big Five book publishers are based in New York City.

Recently, writer and data scientist, Ali Almossawi, compiled a chart of all the Publishers, and every one of their subsidiaries.

This chart is a wonderful opportunity for artists wanting to promote their work in the book market. Just think, nearly every one of these imprints has an Art Director with a need to hire a professional artist.