Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Society of Steam: Hearts of Smoke and Fire

By Justin

I don't often get a chance to share much of my client work since a lot of it is NDA. (My employers have made it clear that they can and will send robot bears from the future to kill me if I breathe a word of what I do for them on the blog here...)

Today's post is a happy exception.  It is on Book 2 of the Society of Steam Series: Hearts of Smoke and fire.  I did this cover for Lou Anders at Pyr Books. It is part of a series of books by Andrew Mayer and it has been a ton of fun to work on.


 Digital Comp

 Tight Drawing

Watercolor and Gouache on Bristol

 Digital (Photoshop) over Watercolor 

Final Design


  1. Hey Justin! I like this one a lot! This reminds me some of the Oz piece you did for IMC. Funny though, this piece has your trademark style all over it, but to me it seems like a departure from your usual subject matter, which I think is awesome.
    Now, the guy with the Omega symbol on his head - did you use a model, or was that using previous studies as a springboard?
    Great stuff as usual!

  2. The lighting in this is incredible Justin. I love how the shadows have a warm hue as if the characters have a blazing furnace below them.

    May I echo Will's question regarding Mr Omega Head?

  3. Beautiful! Actually I like the yellow brownish step even more than the final painting...

  4. Beautiful! I really like the warmth of the goache and watercolor, and actually rather prefer it over the digital final.

    Quick question: Do you paint the watercolors and goache directly over the pencils from that final tight drawing?

  5. Hey guys,
    I didn't shoot any models for Mr. Omega (whose name is Eschaton in the book). I did however do a few studies from life of a few people I thought fit his description beforehand in order to nail down the structure I wanted for this face.

    I agree with you. Myself, I usually end up liking both the watercolor version and the digital versions myself. It seems a shame not to show both versions. Thanks for the feedback.

    I did do the watercolor/gouache directly over the final drawing. Most of my final paintings have a whole lot of pencil in them somewhere.

  6. Very nice! Lots of stuff going on and your style fits beautifully with this steampunk-like theme.

  7. Really really cool. I get so much from seeing your process photos. Thanks for sharing.

  8. So cool to see the whole process laid out here.

    I'm honored to have you as the artist for my series, and I can't tell you how many people I've been able to engage in conversation at shows simply because they can't take their eyes off of the cover.

    Just wait until they see book 3!

  9. Wow it was great to see your progress to the final. Amazing painting!

  10. It's really nice to see one of your projects that you've been hired out for. And of course, it's lovely like everything you do! Thanks for showing the process!


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