“Olivia is helping out at a cat colony. So a scene with her in an outdoor area with some shelters and food dishes, maybe. You know what that would look like, although, we want a close up of Olivia with cats in the distance.”
Well, that’s an easy one with all the photos of feral colonies I have on hand! I had another idea before the cover you see above, using some elements and one cat from Denise’s colony.
Well, maybe not those river rocks, but you get the idea. Cats in the distance could be above them because Denise’s yard slopes down and I often see cats at the top of it. But Patricia wasn’t so fond of it. On to idea number 2, which is the cover you see above.
You may also recognize those feral cats as ones I’ve featured here since 2016.
Because the scene is so familiar to me and I have so many photos the design came together really easily.
I actually painted this cover at the end of September 2022, that’s how far behind I am on featuring covers. This is cover number 10 in Olivia’s series while we just finished working on cover 17. I’ll work on catching up—again!
Here’s the synopsis of Olivia to the Rescue:
Olivia flaunts her superpowers.Not only does the spunky calico join the crusade to help endangered cats, but she also lends a paw to others in need. No one knows what’s happening to the cats—why they’re disappearing, then showing up with dreadful injuries. The mystery baffles locals, so they call in Parker and Olivia. Along the way, Olivia engineers a method to keep a child from drowning, she very creatively causes a breakup then brings two people together. Olivia’s crowning glory in this story is the part she plays in identifying the culprits who are harming the cats in a most bizarre scheme. She makes sure they’re caught and punished.
About the materials for the cover illustration
I use a self-prepared two-ply illustration board with a very fine surface texture to hold the pastel, and also be able to use other media. It’s not entirely opaque so I can put it on my light table and trace the details in place. I initially started out with a sketch in watercolor but I’ve been using my brush markers more often to block in the colors and especially the dark areas; the markers are alcohol based and don’t cause as much ripple in the paper and have cleaner edges than watercolors. Then I put it on my easel and finish it with my pastels, a mix soft pastels and pastel pencils especially for details.
Getting all the details just right on an illustration like these book covers can be tricky when they are small. Depending on the detail in the illustration, I work them almost twice the final size of the cover—the cover is 5″ x 8″ and I work at 9″ x 12″.
Other illustration materials I’ve used
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 stands 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. Especially when working with patterns it’s important nothing is out of place or it’s immediately noticeable. I start with a complete composite that I’ve built in Photoshop using all the photos and images and art so that Patricia can see just what it will look like, and I have all the details in place. It’s far more difficult to correct an illustration than a Photoshop composite, which I can adjust infinitely. That way, when I get to my actual painting, all the decisions have been made and I just need to paint.
I use a self-prepared two-ply illustration board with a very fine surface texture to hold the pastel, and also be able to use other media. It’s not entirely opaque so I can put it on my light table and trace the details in place. I start out with a sketch in watercolor and even marker to block in the colors and especially the dark areas. Then I put it on my table and finish it with my pastels, first the soft pastels for coverage, then pastel pencils for details.
Depending on the detail in the illustration, I work them sometimes twice the final size of the cover. Getting all the details just right on an illustration like these book covers can be tricky when they are small. The books are 5″ x 8″, but this illustration was 10″ x 16″, which helped me to paint in all the leaves and details of the bark.
About these book covers
I’ve illustrated over 83 covers to date for Patricia over two series of cat mysteries. Rather than list them all here, you can explore the category Book Cover.
CWA 2018, 2021, 2022 Muse Medallion AND Certificate of Excellence for “Illustration: Series”
Patricia publishes about six books each year and I’ve entered the covers since 2015. I’ve won a Certificate of Excellence each year, and often won a MUSE™ Medallion too.
Click the links above to see the other awards.
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.
We’ve also printed several runs of note cards from multiple covers, including a Christmas series.
. . . . . . .
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.
Each week on Wednesday I feature a piece of artwork, sometimes a current or historic portrait, sometimes an illustration or an art project from years ago, usually cat-themed, but sometimes wildlife or even non-animal subjects, and even projects from my commercial art life. Read other Featured Artwork posts.
Custom Commissioned Artwork and Illustrations from Portraits of Animals
From Animal Portraits to Book Covers to Advertisements
In addition to creating commissioned portraits beloved animal companions for the past 25 years, I’ve also been a commercial artist since the 1980s both full-time and freelance and created many illustrations, book covers, advertisements, display signs and more. Visit my Commissioned Artwork pages to read more. They are not quite complete at the moment but there is still quite a bit to look at.