Sunday, June 11, 2006

Fables 50 - Ebay Auction

*It has come to my attention that someone is contacting the bidders for this auction and offering to sell the drawing, claiming the winning bid fell through. Rest assured, the drawing has been sold and delivered. This is not the first time this fraud has been attempted. If anyone else has received an email making a fake Second Chance Offer, please let me know: mail -at-

Since the special, double-sized anniversary issue of FABLES 50 is coming out this week, I can finally post the cover online. There was much discussion about how to make this cover special: a wraparound cover was proposed, but was ultimately rejected due to budget constraints and ad space concerns. Thus, I had designed this cover to continue off to the left, revealing more wedding guests, but never had the opportunity to finish the composition. This issue would have been a good opportunity to revive the use of holograms and foil embossed stamping from the 90s -- some lace would have been an nice touch, along with a scratch n sniff patch on Snow White's bouquet.

> graphite on bond, 5.5 x 8.5" SOLD.

I was channeling a bit of Alma Tadema in the sketch. The composition is like a big ring, the characters circling around the logo in the middle.

> blue pencil, white chalk, gouache on grey Rives BFK, 15 x 22"

I've long promised to post this piece up for bid on ebay, and the time has finally arrived. Click here to place a bid on the original drawing!

> Photoshop CS, 4200 x 6340 pixels

Despite my attempts to mitigate the type requirements of the cover and the integrity of the image, Vertigo added some extra stuff on the cover which you'll see in the comic stands. Of course, there's also the ever-present UPC box which I've tried to integrate into the covers in the past. In any case, here is the 'director's cut' of the cover.


Chris Hope said...

Just beautiful! This is my favorite piece of yours in recent memory. Are you going to be at San Diego?

7:57 PM  
Pia said...

Beautiful! You are my favorite cover artist by far.

9:29 PM  
anonymous10101 said...

I am quite impressed how you were able to maintain the spontaniety of the characters throughout the whole design process. This piece seems so magical and i can imagine the beautifully classical structures of alma tadema integrated within this composition. Quite a beautiful piece indeed!

11:28 PM  
Kenichi Hoshine said...

You put a lot of love in rendering that trumpet. ;) When you channeled Alma Tadema, I think you woke up Sargent and stirred a little bit of him as well. Good stuff man.

11:55 PM  
Anonymous said...

james, … you make me realy speechless! cheers, joe from germany

2:09 AM  
Miras said...

Great picture. I wish I had free cash to spend on your original... As for now I'll have top settle with prints. :-(

4:28 AM  
Pete said...

Amazing piece, Im always impressed! I have a few questions if you dont mind...
I noticed that in the photoshop version you added more shading/highlights to the characters as well as the environment, adding to the white chalk highlights you already had. Are you adding this with regular photoshop brushes?? If so, what brushes do you use to get the soft edge that is common in your work?
Also- Do you use photoshop to create the lil graphic borders in the pic and in some of your other pieces?

7:06 AM  
Anonymous said...

One day, I hope to look at a finished illustration of yours and not feel like it has been completely ruined by computer coloring.

11:12 AM  
eendar said...

it is absolutely beautiful!! As everything :)

11:21 AM  
josh said...

amazingingly radical. I love everything about this piece

11:33 AM  
Frank said...

I like the scratch n' sniff idea. You're truly a visionary of book cover design.

Anyway, I was wondering if there's a particular reason you choose a blue line to do the drawing with on the rives paper.



11:51 AM said...

This post has been removed by the author.

6:56 PM  
Jon Han said...

Beautiful... not much else to say James.

8:00 PM  
eli said...

The movement of the piece is enought make me cry, quit school, and resign myself to working service jobs the rest of my life. I suppose that is an overstatement but what I'm trying to say is that the last two things you've posted are awesome and give my some wonderful ideas of my own. Thank you and I look forword to working in a field that I get to call you and all the other people that leave comments here my peers.

8:54 PM said...

I absolutely love the composition and the overall narrative.
Beautiful work.

When you're working on a particular job/assingment, at times it looks like you fit your own characters, slightly odd creatures and other cool little story elements. Do these have any particular meaning behind them (storytelling reason) or do you add them cuz it, well, just feels right?

I just see you come up with wonderful stories and I wonder how much of it is "planned" and how much is left up to the viewer to figure out.


11:45 PM  
Ben Baker said...

Really nice composition, and colors! i like it. =)

2:28 AM  
Jakob Westman said...

That's breathtaking James!!
Whatta beauty.

8:09 AM  
Jed said...

I think this is once a again a very nicely designed, and well rendered piece, and though I wince at the mention of the foil embossed and hologram crapped on covers of the 90s that marvel implemented to conceal the fact that the contents of their books at the time were shit, I'm sure you, James, would find some way to make it work. I don't know how, but I'm sure you would.

In defense of the computer as a coloring tool: the computer may never achieve the same result as wet and dry media--sometimes it can do a very very good approximation, but nobody's gonna argue that it's paint.

I liken the computer coloring process to print making: The pencil drawing serves as the equivelent of an intaglio drawing, and the resulting print is not the drawing. It's the product of a mechanized process, and it has qualities that the drawing does not. The drawing has a unique quality, and is beautiful in it's own right--it shows the evidence of the hand of the artist more than a print does, but that doesn't make the print a lesser work.

Maybe, anonymous, you're expecting these images to do something they can't--maybe you're expecting them to be paintings, but I would encourage you to see them and appreciate them as something other than paintings.

I do feel, that sometimes James can bury his images in photoshop pyrotechnics, but I don't feel that this is one of those instances. It's beautifully rendered, and beautfully designed, but yes, it isn't the drawing, and it isn't a painting, but it has unique qualities that neither a hand rendered painting or pencil drawing can strictly duplicate.

3:45 PM  
Joshua James said...

Holy Geeez..

Nuts to Concept Art I need to be a Cover Artist(well and get better)! 4k on ebay just for the drawing!

4:34 PM  
Shawn Escott said...

Number 50! Congrats! That's a lot of covers, and they are all great. Fantastic work again on this one. Nice design, drawing, color and creativity. Good work James.

8:03 PM  
Scott Wright said...

Just simply AWESOME!!!

11:04 AM  
Jed said...

That sure went for a pretty penny, didn't it? And well deserved! Don't feel TOO special though--the same guy paid 17 THOUSAND dollars for a Neil Adams Superman drawing, which seems a little insane to me.

10:11 AM  
Process Recess said...

chris - yes, I'll be at comicon on Fri & Sat.
pia - thanks! lovely writing on your blog
anon - thanks! The classical influence was only evident after I finished the sketch . . . i really didn't have any other intent than to cram all those characters in there.
kenichi - yah, I'm a graverobber.
Joe - thanks, hope you're enjoying the world cup in germany.
miras - thanks, don't forget, you can buy the comic, too!
pete - i just use the generic photoshop round brush, with a soft edge and varying degrees of opacity. My line is pretty soft and fluid to begin with, so that's evident in the 'softness' of the final illustration. I create those border elements in vector and import them into photoshop.
anon - I've been painting more these past couple of months, but i wouldn't disparage the use of the computer. It's all ending up in print, after all.
eendar- thanks!
josh - thanks, we should have the alhouse meetings more often.
frank - I just like the blue. Perhaps it's also easier to isolate the color in photoshop to manipulate it's darkness. It also smudges less than graphite.
jon- thanks! Looking forward to more updates on your new website.
eli- let those tears salt your work with feeling. - these 'extra' elements in some of my illustrations are there to support the main concept, and are rarely planned from the beginning. Basically, I'm just having a bit of fun in the picture.
ben - thanks!
jakob - thanks! Perhaps I'll see you at comicon again this year . . .
jed - all good points jed! Thanks for expressing my sentiments. Well, i don't know about my photoshop pyrotechnics . . . my coloring is simple, I think, and my skills in the computer are limited.
joshua - I actually looked for work as a concept artist long ago, but I'm glad that no one hired me so that I could develop my own career.
shawn - thanks! I actually just finished the cover to 54 . . .
scott - thanks!!
jed - competition for this piece was intense due to its historical significance. It certainly exceeded my expectations, though, but it won't drastically affect the 'normal' pricing of my work.

1:11 PM  
Shalimar said...

Hey, Just wanted to say, I am a big fan of your work. You are an inspiration to me. I come here when ever i need a dose of it. Keep it up.

1:51 PM  
Jed said...

By "photoshop pyrotechnics" I guess I just mean filters and halftones and such. It's not often or frequently, but sometimes that I think it's a little too much. But as I said: not on this one, or in the last several pieces. And usually you do color simply and with a limited palette that works very well.

I've recently come to a similar conclusion about making images for print: it doesn't matter how much you spend on that tube of cadmium red, it still comes out CMYK in the end. Lately I've been working more in wet media, but in black and white, because I can manipulate the color more easily on the computer while still retaining the texture of wet and dry media.

As for the price of the picture: I say, keep on crank'in it up! The more your work sells for, the more illustration in general as a craft stands to share the benefit! I tell you, it galls me sometimes at comic book conventions when talented folks undersell their work. It just makes it harder for me to make a buck! The only time I resent it is when it's inferior hack work, which of course, needless to say, yours is not.

Just think: not too many years ago, you couldn't have made more than a coupla hundred bucks for a comic book cover. Now they finally seem to realize those covers sell books! When I was going to school, illustration seemed to be a dying art--now I think we're seeing a real sea change--with the emergence of new media, illustrators are in a lot higher demand, but I think it's the responsibility of all of us not to undersell our work or give it away too freely.

1:54 PM  
mackaydesign said...

I love seeing your work in stages. Really inspiring.

2:21 AM  
Sam said...

Wow, Jed had some really good things to say there that I agree with. I love this piece. The illustration works well, and the typography is great and compliments the piece well.

8:30 PM  
john said...

Not to derail the train here, but what type of scanner do you use to digitize your work, James? Thanks...

1:45 AM  
Anonymous said...

I've seen it, it's a very fancy scanner. OoOoO

11:35 AM  
Arezoo said...


1:53 PM  
Kenji Bliss said...

I really love the composition in this image. Your sense of design is awesome and really dig your style. I hear your going to be at sdcc, look forward to meeting you and love your collection of work. Look forward to more updates in near future.


1:34 AM  
Carl V. said...

This is the most fantastic Fables cover yet. Do you still sell prints? I want one of this!!!

1:52 PM  
abaddon said...

i luv the blue pencil one!!!! wonderfull.!!!!

3:46 PM  
silicone said...

i like your prints!!!!!

i am a graphy designer!

welcome to my BLOG...

5:29 AM  
Darren 'Daz Honey' Cox said...

well done!

8:46 AM  

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