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:


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


2. Main thumbnail selected


3. Digital blue line sketch to print for inks


4. Main inks


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



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.


 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.


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.


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


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


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


11.5. Starting to paint in colour flats.


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


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


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.


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


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


16. Final image.


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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1 Comment

  1. So great. I wonder is she does this full process for interior pages as well? Thanks for this.

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