EXCLUSIVE: How I Created the Cover to REBELS #1, by TULA LOTAY

The Spectrum Award nominee and cover artist for Dark Horse‘s forthcoming Rebels #1 builds you a magnificent cover — one step at a time.

Rebels, the Revolutionary War-era historical fiction series by writer Brian Wood, artist Andrea Mutti and colorist Jordie Bellaire, comes out 4/8 — in time for Patriots’ Day for you Massachusetts types. Here, Tula Lotay takes you behind the scenes on how she created the cover to the debut issue, step by step:

By TULA LOTAY

I work in Photoshop CS5 (must update) using digital blue line and normal inks scanned. Then paint the illustration digitally before adding water-colour textures and overlays. All these different stages are on their own layer so they can be added and taken away.

1. Thumbnail sketches

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2. Main thumbnail selected

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3. Digital blue line sketch to print for inks

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4. Main inks

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5. Tree water colour washes: Created separately so they would have a freer feel and can be moved around within the image once scanned.

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6. I drop in background textures as starting point. I always leave my rough lines there as sometimes they can add an extra dimension to an image. Make it a bit more interesting.

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 7. I bring the darker blue back to define the white. Check the composition of the white is right and that the image flows correctly from top to bottom.

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8. I don’t like the way the original Red Coat soldiers at the top look, too static and too much detail, so I experiment with new versions, try to simplify. I practise drawing them really loose, in a similar way to some of the Saturday Evening Post illustrations of the ’50s/’60s. Parts of those illustrations are super detailed and other parts are very lose and sketchy.

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9. The soldiers still don’t feel right and I really want to bring the red out for the Red Coats.

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10. I try again with the Red Coat illustrations, making them loose still but incorporating the colour too.

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11. I’m happy with these now. Just a few more tweaks.

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11.5. Starting to paint in colour flats.

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12. Base colour for the Mountain Boys. I usually paint this on another layer under the line.

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13. I add more Red Coats and change the line colour. Work into them a bit more.

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14. Now the line art and colour is ready. I start to overlay watercolour textures to see if any bring the image out more. Sometimes there are some really nice surprises at this stage, other times it’s too much. I like the pink here but it doesn’t work for the feel of the book.

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15. Another idea of laying the Join or Die flag design over the Mountain Boys at the bottom. It’s too much though.

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15.5. Coffee and orange juice texture scanned and overlaid over the final image on the ‘Hard Light’ setting in Photoshop.

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16. Final image.

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If you want this gorgeousness in your life, the Final Order Cut-Off is Monday 3/16. Diamond Order Code: FEB150008.

(UPDATED! If you want to see a similar piece on the interiors by Andrea Mutti — and you do — check out Bleeding Cool.)

Author: 13th Dimension

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