Sample Cover Art for Martha Rago at Harper Collins

I attended an SCBWI illustrator's conference in the area yesterday. Usually I'm involved in running these things but it was really nice just to attend for a change...relax and soak up information and ideas. As part of the conference, the visiting art director, Martha Rago, ran an intensive workshop where we were given an assignment to complete. She looked at initial sketches prior to the conference, gave feedback and we were supposed to bring finals to the conference. It was a good experience and a good opportunity to show work to an Art Director in a more direct setting. In addition, the attendees could chose to participate in a portfolio display. I did and was pleased to see the art director take time to look through each one. I recommend taking those opportunities whenever you can.

The assignment was to create character sketches and a book cover for a hypothetical (probably forthcoming) book called "Cupcake Princess." We got a brief description of the girl and were instructed to go at it. I posted my initial images for the cover previously. The art direction given once I turned in those sketches was to work on expression and choose a scene which would show more action and intrigue...make the reader want to know what happens. I took it to heart and redesigned.

Here is my process...

wet and tape down paper. block in background color
paint the girl and bearded dragon

water wash over background to soften and mute

Add details
digitally composite, adjust, enhance, add textures, etc.

added a pseudo title and bylines
Martha Rago's only suggestion in the final critique was to make the baker more distinct. (too much blob of hat showing...needs a little more of the face showing). She seemed to like it and had other good things to say.

So the moral of the story is...take the opportunity to go to conferences, show your work, practice your craft...whether you are a working professional or a beginner. GOOD LUCK!
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I posted 2 new Valentine's Day Cards for you to use on my PRINTABLES tab up above. You can print last years or the new ones for your little munchkin to pass out at school or to their friends and family. Click, Download and Enjoy!

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I'm a freelance illustrator working in the children's book industry. I love kids and raising my own 4 children. They are the inspiration and the passion behind all I do in art and in life. See my website at

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