Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Proposition

This was an Inside Cover for a Harlequin Historical book of the same title. It seems there's a big following out there for Mounties! Dudley DoRight, notwithstanding, I guess women love that red uniform and the heroic reputation that comes along with the Mountie legend.
One of the challenges when designing these covers is allowing for all the type, logos and the accursed UPC code, which takes up a huge amount of illustration real estate! In this case the UPC code takes up the whole lower left of the image! But limitations have always been part of working for clients. I like to think that most artists in the past, ( up to maybe the late 19th century), as illustrators. They were hired to paint images to fit certain areas, tell a certain story, on and on. Sometimes the patron insisted on having his visage included in the action to be imortalized as a witness to some saint's matyrdom.
Things aren't usually that bad now, but we don't have the time they used to have to complete a picture. It's both a curse and a blessing. At least things can't drag on too long. the art has to go to the printer! The book has to go on the shelves!
The curse is that you seldom have enough time to refine all the elements as you'd like. It teaches you to see and think efficiently, to go for the essentials. What's the story? What's the setting? Action? Mood? And then to see it in you mind, the best way to convey all that.
In this illustration, I knew the couple had to travel a long way through the wilderness, the classic romantic theme of a couple being forced together, falling in love along the way. I concieved of this scene all at once, the warmth of the fire contrasting with the cool darkness outside their warm circle. Then it was a matter of getting the couple to be believable in this story. Fortunately, I was helped by having 2 terrific models, Nando and Suzanne Fogarty, plus a genuine (rented ) Mountie uniform and prairie dress costume. Warm gels were used on a very low angle light, cool gell on a second background light.

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