A while back I brought you a look at the process for creating the cover for TIDES OF THE DARK CRYSTAL, the third novel in the official prequel series for, you guessed it, The Dark Crystal. 

Now that the book has been out a couple months I thought it worthwhile to take a look inside the cover to see some of the interior illustrations. There are nine in total and like the previous two books, all are black and white.

I go through a couple of stages before I begin the final art. The preliminary stage is one that the client doesn’t see. It’s the messy scribbles that are just me gathering my thoughts. I’ll run through a few iterations (or if I’m lucky the idea will just kind of hit me) and go from there.

I’ll then scan the tiny sketches and begin to work up digital rough studies. Since these illustrations will only be in black and white, strong handling of the values are paramount.

I’m now working in the exact proportions for the final work. If you compare the two, you can see the sketch is wider and with the digital rough I’ve made some slight adjustments to the composition.

Some further refinements and this is what I’ll send on to my AD and what the team presents to Henson.

And here’s the finished piece.

Also, I saved a process .gif here showing the all the stages.

While we’re at it, here’s a look at some more of the interior pieces.

This series has really been a beautiful dream to help bring to life. I count myself incredibly lucky to get the chance to walk the woods of Thra and see what I can see.

One thing I’ve particularly enjoyed while illustrating these books is working with the creative team at Penguin Random House and the author, J. M. Lee. It’s been such a great, collaborative relationship. We’re in the midst of the fourth and final novel of the series. It’s bittersweet wrapping up the story and the entire project.

But! Have you heard of the new series, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance coming from Netflix? It’s based in part on the novels and I can’t wait to see how they bring the world to life, again.