Arcagen Journal Entry #6: Working on a Cover

General / 04 October 2021

(This is a repost of an old blog)

It has been some time since I wrote an entry on this journal, but believe me, the development of the project has been steady. The adventures of Paloma keep advancing, and soon I’ll have the first chapter ready. Did I mention I’m working with an editor? His name is Sebastián Castillo, chief of Pezarboreo, a small comic publisher here at Chile. He seems to firmly believe in my work, and I’m grateful for the support he has been showing on this story. We are preparing a surprise for a local con called FIC (Feria Internacional del Comic) and he asked me to prepare a cover for…well that’s still a surprise. 

On this blog, I want to show the creation process for this cover.

Step 1: Stealing like an Artist

Picasso once said “Good artist copy, great artists steal” (quote not confirmed). I might have an idea on how this cover might look like, but in order to be efficient, it’s a good idea to see the work of others for guidance. So I look over my image collection over Pinterest, Artstation or personal folders for inspiration, and then I choose those who look similar to that initial idea on my head. This could be related to mood, composition, color or a combination of those three. Finally, I deposit them all over PureRef (a great free reference software). Below you will find the canvas I created with the references I gathered.

Step 2: Thumbnailing 

My editor likes to see some proposals for the cover, to see which would work better from a creative and marketing perspective. So, I take my references, and start painting using simple brushes with blend properties. This is a really fun process, where I play with tonal value and composition and create fast thumbnails which gives us a preview on how the final cover might look like. For this cover, I did four proposals, all of them done in less than an hour. My editor ended liking option 4 above the rest.

*Bonus Step: Studies. 

If I find the task in hand difficult, I might do some studies before hitting the challenge directly. On this opportunity, I wasn’t sure what palette I’d be using so I decided to look over a couple of these images, and paint copies on them. These studies can be a good warmup exercise, and also used to analyze the thought process and logic behind these pieces. 

Step 3: Roughs and Palette

You know that I like line art on my illustrations. Maybe this is a remnant of my liking for comics, who knows. That is why I take the chosen thumbnail, increase its size, and  start sketching above it. I use these rough lines to define the overall shapes and some details I consider important. When these rough lines are finished, I usually start playing with some gradient maps to define the overall mood of the piece (while value gives structure, color gives emotion)

Step 4: Drawing

Now I know the overall structure and mood of my piece. Time to start drawing. On the rough lines, I stablished the gesture and overall shapes of the forms. Now, I define the drawing a bit more with one or two passes (each on a different layer), sketching some of the most important details like expressions, clothes, limbs, etc. 

Step 5: Inking...and so on (this was added on 2021)

I'll let the following video give away the rest of the steps :)


Remember you can already read the comic on Webtoon and Tapas.  Now that chapter 2 is complete, the team will be taking a couple of months until we have enough pages to start publishing once more. Please follow my Blog, Newsletter, or Patreon for the latest updates on this grand project. Linktree

Thanks for reading!