Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Book's Cover: Early Sketches!

As an unpublished author working for years on different manuscripts, I have to admit that I sometimes spent time daydreaming about what the actual book might look like sitting on a shelf. I imagined what it would be like to walk into a bookstore and see it there. And I definitely wondered what the cover could possibly be.

When I first started taking children's writing classes back in 2007, one of the first things I learned was that the author has very little say in the artwork. Honestly, that's been fine by me. I love art, but I love it enough to know that there are people out there who are very, very good at it and I am not one of them. Knowing that, I didn't have an exact picture in my head of what I wanted the cover to look like at all.

So when I opened an email from my editor in January and scrolled down to the attachments I saw, I basically...grinned. A lot. From ear to ear actually.

These are the initial sketches I saw.

Not too far removed from what the final art turned out to be. Notice that the rose and the map are both around the tree in this one.

The tree itself is a little different from the previous version. I actually really liked the rose emblem on the tree, too.

More swirls near the top and back to the original rose, without the map.

This is pretty much the final art. Glasses were eventually added to one character (to help differentiate him from the others) and take a look at the character near the bottom right...

This is the first color sketch I saw! Notice that the character on the bottom right's appearance has changed. This is because he changed in between my first and second round of edits. The tree also has more foliage now, probably because it made more sense for it to with the title up there.

Final cover art with title font. I did give some notes as to hair color, eye color, and a few other minor colorings that needed to change. I feel like this could be a middle grade version of one of those bar arcade games...or, you know, Highlights magazine. Can you spot all the differences between the last version and this one?

I know I said my children's writing classes told me not to expect to have any say on the artwork, but I do want to point out that I was shown all of these versions along the way and encouraged to share my thoughts. Not that I had much to say because, well, the design team at Walker nailed it.

Speaking of which, tomorrow I will have another interview on the blog, where you will find out the answer to the burning question: what does a (very talented) senior designer at a publishing house do?

Stay tuned!


  1. A VERY cool post. It's rare that the readers get to see the whole process that goes into illustrating a book cover - and it ain't easy! In the end though, you really get the sense that it's a large collaborative process, which I think can be one of the most excited (and rewarding) part of being an artist.

  2. I am loving this cover series. Thanks for sharing, Sarvenaz! Your cover is seriously awesome - congrats to you (and your artist, who is clearly VERY talented).

  3. I love this! Its so fun to see the whole process and I love how much input Walker gave both of us on our cover art.

  4. Very cool post. Super interesting to see the stage-by-stage evolution. :)