Thursday, December 9, 2010

Blackveil - Cover Art for a Novel

Today features the step by step break down in how I approached a recent piece of cover art, just released by DAW books, for the novel Blackveil by Kristen Britain. It was an excellent read and a novel I can highly recommend from within the genre. Kristen is not a prolific writer, but she hits a home run each time. I was most entranced with her thoughts of a corrupted forest, the namesake of the title, which brought back associations with Mirkwood from Tolkien's Middle-Earth. Those of you who know me well will know anything which makes a connection to Middle-Earth is an instant winner in my book of creative inspirations!
As is typical with all my works I begin with abstracts, leading into a rough drawing to communicate and formalize the content with the art director. In this case the art director/editor, who happens to be the co-owner of the company, Betsy Wollheim!, requested a second round of sketches to better portray the main protagonist. After the rough is approved, I move, onto the photo shoot and reference gathering and lastly into the oil painting. Due to the rushed nature of this commission, I did not create a separate preliminary drawing, but rather mounted the rough drawing as a composition right on the board.
Final art 24" x 36"
Oil on Panel


  1. Wow, amazing! I always beat myself up because my initial sketches are really rough but it seems like that's just part of the flow. From your initial abstracts to your finished piece it's a real journey and I guess you just have to trust every step in getting there. Maybe that's my problem, I don't have enough faith in myself or the process. I hope this confidence builds up in time.

  2. Beautiful painting.

    This really gives a new life to a black and white composition in my mind. I never quite saw that as an option before!

    How long do you normally spend working out abstracts and roughs before you go to the final painting?

    Thanks for sharing, Donato.

  3. So when I mentioned sketch envy when commenting on Todd Lockwood's post... this is exactly what I meant, the sketches are soo loose, yet convey so much at a glance. I love that white owl popping out in the darkness. Thanks for the great post.

  4. Just so good. Once you learn to paint you'll be amazing. Seriously, I've always wanted to ask what you're using as a medium.

  5. Just saw one of your works on the main page of Concept Art World. You..ARE..A..Genius.It has this gorgeous tragic, Pre-Raphaelite feeling to it, I just adore it.

  6. Brilliant work. Thanks for sharing the process!

  7. The thing I like best about this one... the repetition of the striping in the trees where there is no bark and how it plays well with the light and dark characters.

  8. Hi Donato,

    Thank you for sharing your work process on this painting. For the Owl and buildings, did you use a Gesso on the panel bd to get the white to "glow" or is that a white paint?

    [I'm not an oil painter...]

    Thank you,

    Mike P.

  9. Thanks for sharing Donato!! Just wondering, how many days did you have for the entirety of this project?

  10. I love this book cover! Thank you for sharing the process of it's creation. It's so fascinating! How did you choose the model(s)?

  11. thanks for sharing! love the cover!

  12. Thank you for putting this up! I love delving into artists' creative process! And I just love Kristen's series- your covers make it just right :)


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