Exotic cats in the basement, and Rags has to do something about this because it’s just not right…this time Rags is sitting outside a shabby old mansion and some very strange cat eyes are focused on him.
Rags is snooping around outside a very large old house–ornate. There are secrets in the house. I thought maybe we could have him looking at the house–at a barred window, for example where there are strange eyes peering out at him. These could be exotic cat eyes–like a small wild African cat or human–there are both elements in this story.
I have plenty of photos of interesting old houses so I started off with an old brick place with interesting windows because Patricia wanted a dark and eerie feeling around the empty house. But we’ve been trying to keep the covers a little lighter in color so they look clear in all formats so after working things out with a darker house we chose a shabby old white house, just a bit of gingerbread, with basement windows. Then I sketched around to make up the strangest cat eyes that would still look strange when they’re small. Foreboding, maybe Rags is even in danger being that close, even if it’s daylight.
Of all things, I enjoyed the grass in this one, partly because it provided the color, but it also provided an eye-catching texture that ended up leading the viewer’s eye right to that basement window with the strange eyes. That’s what it did for me when it was finished, anyway.
So clearly this cover came together pretty easily. I do enjoy solving the puzzle of arranging all the elements we need in some way that works for everyone in every size cover display, but sometimes when it just solidly presents itself it feels like it was meant to be.
Here’s the synopsis:
Rags reveals a ghastly decades-old secret.This is a story of lost hope and recovery. Rags reveals more than skeletons in the closet of a century-old mansion. He saves human and feline lives that have been interrupted in the most horrifying way. He finds the key to healing a broken family, and he even rescues a nest of birds after a thoughtless act. This story will delight and excite you. You’ll gasp, you’ll laugh, and you’ll marvel at the wonders of the cat.
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 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 drafting 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 about 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 these illustrations are usually about 10″ x 16″, which helps me to paint in all the details.
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 50 covers for Patricia over two series of cat mysteries. You can see the Klepto Cat covers 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, A Picture Purrfect Christmas, Meow for the Money, Claws for a Cause, Cabin FURvor, A MEOWvelous Witness, Cats in Cahoots, The Amazing CATventure, By Crook or By Cat, Merriment, Mayhem and Meows, A Christmas to Purr About, Cattywampus Travels, Cats in the Belfry, CATalyst for Clues., The Perilous PURRsuit, Secrets, Trickery and Meows, The ImPAWsible Mission, Meowmoirs of a Kleptocat, Revenge at its Felinest, FURever Bound, Cats Don’t Squeal, The Secret Claws, FURever Friends, Wrong Side of the Paw, A Whisker of Truth, Cats and Caboodle, A Very Meowy Christmas, A Purrfectly Perilous Plot, Meow and Forever , Cats of a Feather The Secret in the Whiskers, Whiskerful Thinking, Paws for Trouble, Love at First Purr, Meowing in the Moonlight, A Whisker of Doubt, In PURRsuit of the Unknown, A PAWsome Encounter, Calico Calamities, A Whisker Away, Rags Gets the Upper Paw, Claw and Order, and Rags Lends a Helping Paw.
CWA 2018 Muse Medallion AND Certificate of Excellence for “Illustration: Series”
Illustration: Series, Klepto Cat Covers 27 through 32
MUSE™ Medallion and Certificate of Excellence
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.
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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.
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.
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals 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:
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Thursday: New Merchandise
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!