Posted on September 9, 2009 by jasonlblair
Welcome to the eighth of the 13 Doors: an exclusive look behind the door at the upcoming Little Fears Nightmare Edition – The Game of Childhood Terror.
Door #8: Cover Me
Last week, I gave a glimpse at the artwork that will be in the final book. But I left out what is arguably the most important visual element in the entire game: the cover. Despite the oft-repeated warning, it’s hard not to judge a book by its cover. When you’re staring at a wall full of books, you don’t much to go on. You have the title, the author, the price, the back cover text, maybe a blurb or two, and the picture on the front.
The cover of the original Little Fears was spooky and evocative. It played perfectly to the original Little Fears’s dark tone. Little Fears Nightmare Edition is a bit of a different animal. Still creepy, still horrifying, but more about action, more about doing.
I had a cover idea in my head for some years. In fact, one of the first things I ever did was doodle a cover to the game back in 2000 (the original sketch is on my fridge). I used that doodle as the basis for my art direction on the original cover. The artist, hive, took it in his unique direction to impressive results. For the Nightmare Edition, I wanted something more literal but with a hint of mystery based on the same doodle.
I contacted the incredibly talented Veronica V. Jones (you can check out her work at www.moonshines.com) to see if she’d be available. Once again, the art dieties smiled upon me and she was. I’d worked with Veronica before. She’s everything I want in an illustrator: communicative, on budget, and able to deliver images on spec that carry the elements I look for when hiring an artist. I never hire an artist simply to ape a famous style or turn in a by-the-numbers piece. I hire artists for what they bring: the little touches and features they add to pieces that make them their own. Veronica does this beautifully.
One of the things I like most about her work are her faces. She delivers believable, emotive expressions that give characters life and bring pathos and story to her pieces.
I sent her a pretty long spec. As I’ve grown as an art director, I’ve become more direct, more specific about what I want. I’m flexible but the piece I’m commissioning needs to do what it needs to do. And what this piece needed to do was illustrate two things: this book is about kids fighting monsters and those kids have three weapons at their disposal (belief, hand-me-downs, and sheer strength). I drafted a long (sorry) art spec and sent it to Veronica. I attached an early logo and trade dress mock-up as well so she could get some context for her illustration. This opened a dialogue so that we could come together on a piece and see where our heads were at.
I knew she’d do a good job with the spec I sent. I didn’t expect just how good.
It wasn’t long until Veronica sent me a composition draft. This is a rough sketch that allows me to see where she’s thinking of putting the different characters. It give me a good idea of the piece. She actually sent me two: one with the trade dress and logo mock-up and one without. (Click on the images for a closer look.)
This was perfect. Exactly what I wanted. The blocking was good and I could see we were on the right path. The next step was the pencil sketch. This gives me an idea of the illustrative style she’s going for.
Right on. The expressions are clear, the monsters look good. A color pass comes next so I can get a feel for the warmth of the piece, see where the light sources are and what they are going to hit, and get a much clearer idea of what the piece will be in the end. Again, she put it in the mock-up trade dress and logo.
Composition is good, style is on, color works. Now comes the long wait. Now’s the time when the illustrator brings it all together into the final piece. For the art director, this is can be agonizing. Well, for me as the art director anyway. I’m anxious to see the final piece. I work on the rest of the cover, the spine, and the back, clean up the trade dress, and hope nothing bad happens in the mean time. I get updates and progress notes and I wait.
Then, one day, I get an email. In that email is an attachment. I look, and I am very happy. Very, very happy. I drop into the trade dress, add the final logo, and take a step back. I see if it works or not. I see if anything needs changed. There are some minor tweaks but nothing harsh.
And here it is, minus a few tweaks, the cover of Little Fears Nightmare Edition.
Veronica did a fantastic job. This is a book I would grab off the shelf to see what it was about. I hope others feel the same way.
Be sure to check out www.littlefears.com today for another important announcement!
About Little Fears
Little Fears is a pen and paper roleplaying game that was released in 2001. In it, players portrayed children aged 6-12 who fought monsters that came to our world from a place called Closetland. A completely overhauled version, Little Fears Nightmare Edition, is currently in development. Partnered with Flames Rising, Jason L Blair (the author of Little Fears and Little Fears Nightmare Edition) will provide 13 exclusive looks beyond the door at the new edition including fiction, art previews, and more.
For more information, visit www.littlefears.com.
List of Previews for Little Fears: Nightmare Edition
Thank you to everyone who has entered through the thirteen doors leading up to the release of Little Fears: Nightmare Edition. If you’re just starting your journey, here is a full list of previews for you to explore:
- Closing The Door: Little Fears Nightmare Edition Door 13
- Turning the Pages: Little Fears Nightmare Edition Door 12
- Hiding Under the Covers: Little Fears Nightmare Edition Door 11
- Show Me Something: Little Fears Nightmare Edition Door 10
- Light of Day: Little Fears Nightmare Edition Door 9
- Cover Me: Little Fears Nightmare Edition Door 8
- Picture Day: Little Fears Nightmare Edition Door 7
- Keys to the World: Little Fears Nightmare Edition Door 6
- Rebuilding Closetland: Little Fears Nightmare Edition Door 5
- Creatures in the Library: Little Fears Nightmare Edition Door 4
- Monster Factory: Little Fears Nightmare Edition Door 3
- Kids These Days: Little Fears Nightmare Edition Door 2
- Little Fears Grows Up: Little Fears Nightmare Edition Door 1