Designing Warriors of Virtue Cover Art Part 01

by Dec 1, 2015Art Projects

(A.K.A. Schoolism: Pictorial Composition Week 05)


And so it begins…

As some of you may know, I’ve been writing Warriors of Virtue since I was 16. The idea for the characters struck me even earlier. It grew out of some fan art I drew after reading The Lord of the Rings when I was 14. I wanted so much to be a part of that world, that I added myself, my cousin, and my sister to Frodo’s team.

As I got older, I created my own world. Taking everything I loved about Sailor Moon, The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, Greek/Roman Mythology, Fairytales, etc. and mushing it into a fantasy realm called Ardan.

More time passed, and eventually the three main characters that were myself, my cousin, and sister had to change to fit the story. However, I still retain the names of my family members, though I have changed the main character’s name to Lauraliee.

I’ve been working on this story for nearly 20 years, and I feel I’m finally ready to share my work with the world. I wrote this story for me, to fix everything I felt needed fixing in the works of others that I loved. The story is also a way for me to work out the meaning of life. Most importantly, I wrote this story to have fun; when I’m writing or reading it I am there, in Ardan. It is my perfect place and somewhere I go to when I need to escape.

If you’d like to be notified when the story becomes available join Mili Fay Art Fan Club. I only write to my club members when I have something important to say, or when I have something wonderful to gift them. I hate spam and I will never give away your email address.

Before the story becomes available I still need to edit the final draft, have my editor edit the final draft, and I need to illustrate the cover of course. In chapter illustrations will come later, but I cannot possibly publish something without a cover!

Designing a cover for Warriors of Virtue is not easy. My world is so rich with wonderful fantasy characters and fantasy species that I have invented and that I love dearly. I tried once to design a cover where I included many scenes ala Drew Struzan. However, my mentor and friend Mark Thurman said that the image would not work as a cover. He was right. It would make a wonderful poster–showing all the main characters and some of my favourite action packed scenes. However, for a tiny postage size image that appears on Kindle it was way too involved.

So, I asked myself: “Self, what should I include, and what should I leave out?”

From the busy extreme, I went minimalist. I wanted to create a cover from the design of Warriors of Virtue uniform emblems (an apple tree surrounded by full and crescent moons).

Then I looked at the sketch and I thought that I cannot really tell anything from the design. An apple tree usually signals a story about Adam and Eve, and my story has nothing to do with the Bible… Well, maybe not nothing, because it has its own creation myths, but no.

The chief conflict in the story is between humans who rule Ardan and the Dragon Lord Malachite who use to rule Ardan until he went crazy and decided to exterminate all the humans, because he thought they were evil pests to the magic community.

Warriors of Virtue are three human children (16, 15, and 14 at the start of the story) who join with elemental spirits (water, fire, and air) to prevent war in Ardan.

After much deliberation, I have finally decided to share the moment when they first use their powers as Warriors of Virtue, while the Dragon Lord looks at the reader with his menacing dragon eyes.

Warriors of Virtue Value Thumbnail

© 2015 MILI FAY ART | Value Thumbnail showing Warrios of Virtue rough cover design.

I like that the main character is also looking at the reader. The title divides the “good” and “evil”, as if asking the viewer which side he wishes to join. Unlike Sauron who is an all seeing evil eye, my “evil” side is not necessarily evil, though it has crazy individuals that do evil things.

If I can find enough sill to pull of what’s inside my head, this will be one amazing image. The good news for all you artists is that I will record every bit of my work from the above thumbnail image to the final finished cover art.

The bad news is that I have no idea what I’m doing, so you’ll have to be patient with me as I figure it out. Well, maybe “no idea” is too strong. I know how to draw and paint. The trouble is that I’ll be drawing this from my head, with limited reference, with no knowledge of lighting a scene, and digitally. Yes, this will be a fully digital image. The rest of the illustrations in the book will be pained with acrylic or drawn in ink, but the cover will be all digital…

I’ll be recording my progress and will post sped up video clips on You Tube. In the future I hope to edit those clips and write a tutorial video for each step of the creation: sketching, painting, lighting,…

However, that will be in the future. For now, I hope you enjoy my progress videos. As you will see, I begin working very rough. Some artists like to start with tone, I start with line. I also feel the need to have a face, a focus I can connect to. Then, I redraw the drawing changing bits and pieces until I feel ready to paint.

This first video is just the beginning of my sketching process. It took about 50 minutes which I sped up to about 2 min.

As I’m drawing, after I get past the initial warmup lines where I wonder if I’m an artist at all I start to think about the main character and what I need to have her do, the expression she needs, the elements of the drawing that will support her action,…

If you have trouble seeing the embedded video, here is a link:

I’ll post more videos as soon as I have something to share.

Until then…