Ruby’s Fire book cover illustration process

Ruby’s Fire book cover illustration process

Posted by / May 24, 2013 / Categories: Design, illustration, new commission, process, recent job / 0 Comments

Finished this cover back in April and I can finally show it. The new futuristic young adult sci-fi fantasy novel Ruby’s Fire launches for sale on June 24th. The day before my birthday! I really love the way it turned out. I illustrated the first in the FireSeed Novel back 11-2011. Go here for a story synopsis and more about the author.

My Process

I worked directly with the author Catherine Stine, that gave me very detailed descriptions of what she was looking for. She did not need for me read the manuscript. She is an illustrator herself but needed more realism for the cover. These composition sketches were created in Photoshop are based on 3 layouts she wanted. Text and design was based off previous cover design that I did.


Tighter Sketch

This is the tighter sketch with grey tones working version submitted to Catherine. Needed to change face completely it was way too surprised and goofy looking and reverse the direction of the bird like creature on the back.


Base Figure

The base unclothed figure was created in Poser, a 3D CGI figure program. I like the quickness that Poser gives me for basic poses, expressions and lighting. Way cheaper and less time consuming than hiring a model. Some see this as cheating, but I see it as just another tool the get the job done and done right. I still use all the figure drawing skills and basic painting skills that give it that Jay Montgomery look. Once the base figure is set all the other elements were painted in Photoshop.



The vest and dress pattern were created first flat as a Illustrator CS6 pattern using the new pattern tool. Then copied and pasted into Photoshop. I then distorted the pattern using the liquify tool in Photoshop to fit the contour of the form.

Dress Pattern


 Vest Pattern

A futuristic vest texture a made up in Illustrator was created again using the pattern tool in Illustrator. Love that tool! I distorted it for each section in Illustrator and then pasted them into Photoshop and further distorted them with the liquify tool.


Render Render Render

The hair clothes and all the background was completely painted in Photoshop using a Wacom Tablet. This is about 60% done.


Final Details

The face was fixed with a several Poser edits and Photoshop touch ups. Loved designing and rendering the jewelry. Red (bird creature) took a while to render with all the leaf life feathers.


Final Painting

Ruby's Fire Cover

Final Cover Design

The color palette was different than what I’m used to. I love the warms with the coolish purples.


Front & back Cover Design

The type was created in Photoshop as well.

The book cover is already all over the internet with it just being revealed on Thursday, May 23rd.


Comments and sharing welcome! Thanks for reading!

About the author

I have known from the first time I picked up a crayon that I wanted to be an artist. In 1992, I received Bachelor of Arts with honors with concentrations in Graphic Design, and Drawing & Painting from LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia. Right after that I attended the Illustration program at Portfolio Center in Atlanta, Georgia, graduating in 1994 winning several awards and honors. Worked as an on staff illustrator for a small design firm for a year and a half, then struck out on my own. Now for the past 18+ years I have tremendously enjoyed being able to pursue my love for art professionally as a freelance illustrator. I work/play from my home studio near Atlanta, GA. I have over 20 years computer graphics experience and I am fluent in all of the Adobe Creative Suite CC, Painter 10, Poser 9, and the latest hardware, all of which is in my studio. My image problem solving takes many forms that fit the clients needs. By combining various situations and objects into bold and interesting angles I am able to convey clear ideas to the viewer in a realistic manner. Most of my early work is in oils, but now I can achieve a similar look which is much faster and easily edited in the computer using my own special digital techniques. When I’m not illustrating, I love spending time with my family. I also enjoy doing home improvement projects discussing current news events, pop culture, bike riding and watching movies.

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