The commission was specific in that it had to be an image of a tram on Chantry Bridge in Wakefield (which was a real thing in the 1950's and 60's). David (the author) sent me descriptions from the book that talked about specific things, like the ads on the side of the tram.
I started with a thumbnail sketch illustrating the authors initial brief. Then I did a tighter pencil drawing from photo reference of trams and bridges and a quick trip out with my camera (I live 10 minutes down the road from the bridge). It became obvious that the bridge is a totally different design from how I first sketched it.
My first attempt at inking was with a dip pen using a light box to ink over the pencil drawing, on a fresh sheet of heavy weight cartridge paper. The lines were too fine and a bit hesitant, making the inked drawing feel like a colouring-in book illustration.
I was much happier with the second attempt at inking using a Pilot Parallel Pen. This time I forgoed the light pad and inked over the pencil drawing instead. The texture marks are a lot bolder and say 'stone bridge' more than the dip pen’s cross hatching. The whole image feels more individual and unique to me.
I scanned and sized the black and white drawing to 300dpi at A3 in Photoshop.
Next is the tedious act of Flat Colouring the elements in Photoshop, this allows me to select areas of the illustration when I'm texturing the colours later on adding highlights, shadows and textures in Photoshop. Using light to bring interest and focus to areas of the image. Although the bridge and tram are real things the book has an otherworldly edge to it which I wanted to convey.
I sent the image over to David for approval who sent it on to his designer who did a quick cover mock-up of what the cover might look like.
The final cover looks different as the designer incorporated character and book series logo which you can see over on the Amazon website here.