I’ve actually illustrated and designed two covers for Patricia Fry’s Klepto Cat series since the last one I posted in December. Whew, that woman can write! Meow for the Money is book number 14 in the series, and I’ll leave book number 15 for another day—but soon, before Patricia writes another!
Patricia gave me the title and said the story featured an elderly woman who is leaving her fortune to her cats, so of course someone is after the cats to prevent them from getting the money. Rags is helping to save her cats and “paw” the culprits who are trying to do away with the cats. She suggested showing Rags with his two favorite cats in the menagerie he was saving , a Himalayan and a long-hair tabby (which I know are coincidentally Patricia’s two favorite kitty coats) sniffing or sitting among a bunch of money. “Both would be rather plump and furry. I guess they could be rolling around in it or something silly,” she said.
First I tried to decide exactly how to show the money, and that would determine what the cats would be doing. Coming up with an idea wasn’t the problem—there were just so many ways to do that! Floating in the air down on three kitties looking up, or two looking up and one rolling? Money all over the floor with all kitties rolling and bills floating in the air? One of the things we like to do with the kitties on these covers is show their faces either looking out at the reader, or at least in a direction where you can see their expression. I also have to keep in mind that the composition has to be more vertical than horizontal, and both of those would end up being more horizontal.
Then, aha, I remembered a stack of money from one of my old, old, really old black and white clip art books from the mid-80s.
Perfect! I would shorten the stack and have Rags standing behind with his paws on the top of the stack, and the Himalayan kitty sitting pretty on one side and the long-haired tabby rolling around on the other side.
I knew I had reference photos for the long-haired tabby. I immediately remembered a feline I’d featured in one of my “cats for adoption” posts, a long-haired tabby named Sophie rolling around on a blanket. I’d start with her, modify her position as necessary and add a big fluffy tail.
And one more for her face, which I flipped over for the composite.
For the Himalayan I knew I’d use one of the kitties from my portrait of Miko and Sasha, again filling in the rest of the kitty as necessary once I had the rest of the composition figured out.
For Rags, I used the face of the photo I regularly used to keep him consistent from one cover to the next, and placed him behind the stack, then added the Himalayan and the tabby, sketching in color as necessary in my Photoshop composite. I had to turn the Himalayan to face forward to make sure you could see more of her on that side of the stack of bills. For the same reason I decided to totally flip Sophie on her back, and she looks so cute upside down. Then I added the money in her front paws, and the money under the Himalayan’s paws. I added some floating bills behind them all, but decided it interfered too much with the cats’ faces, and also with the title.
It was all a little bland, though, and each cover has a strong color as part of the composition. Patricia and I decided to use the same sort of violet we’d used behind the cats on the cover of The Colony Cat Caper because it was a similar composition and it’s a nice color with the colors of the cats. I decided to render the background loose and rough, using wide strokes and three different tones of violet to give it dimension and interest.
You can find Meow for the Money on Amazon.com.
About the illustration materials
I don’t use paper for most of these illustrations but chose Ampersand brand Pastelbord, which is a piece of Masonite with a very fine clay and marble-dust coating that has very little texture but holds layers of pastel so I can both do my finger-painting thing with blending softer pastels and sketch with harder pastels and pastel pencils, and it stand up well to multiple changes. I began the painting with soft pastels to cover the major areas with layers of color. I finished up the details and edges with pastel pencils.
But once I began working out the covers with all this Victorian detail like PAWSitively Sinister, I needed a little assistance in keeping the details in order so it didn’t take me until next year to do the painting. I used a self-prepared paper with a very fine surface texture and not entirely opaque so I could put it on my light table and trace the details in place and even draw on the light table with pastel pencils. These illustrations are 8″ x 10″ and the books are 5″ x 8″. Because the illustration is reduced in size it’s easy to lose details so I can’t go too big, and especially when working with patterns it’s important nothing is out of place or it’s immediately noticeable. Getting all the details just right on an illustration like this interior with cats can be tricky when it’s this small. The risk with this paper is that the surface is delicate and actually drawing too hard will remove the roughened texture and I’ll have a hole in my drawing! But it’s great fun to take my Photoshop composite and turn it into a painting.
About these book covers
I’ve illustrated a total of 1e covers for Patricia. You can see them below, but unfortunately you can’t click on the images to go to the article and read more about them. Use these links instead: Catnapped, Cat-Eye Witness, Sleight of Paw, Undercover Cat, The Colony Cat Caper, The Corral Cat Caper, Gallery Cat Caper, Mansion of Meows, Celebrity Cat Caper, Pawtners in Crime, Pawsitively Sinister, The Purrfect Lie and A Picture Purrfect Christmas.
All books are available in electronic format and most for print on Amazon.com as well as find the print versions on Patricia’s website. Reviews have been good, and a few reviewers have even mentioned the covers! I hope you enjoy these books, and Patricia and I are currently working on the next cover. That woman can write!
When we finished book 12 we also updated the two-sided bookmark that includes all twelve books so far which Patricia can hand out at book signings and book shows.
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Read more about book covers I’ve designed. Also, click here to read more about the Purrs of Wisdom cover and bookmarks, and also about books I’ve designed on my blog, What’s New?
Are you interested in illustrations or a book cover, or book design? Please contact me, I’ll be happy to discuss your project.
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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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Weekly schedule of features:
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Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
Thursday: New Merchandise
Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy
Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!