I prefer to use photos for illustrations for my juvenile line of books, “Starflake”. You might think, because I write science fiction this is going to be very difficult, but I consider the extra trouble worth it because it gives kids the possibility that Starflake is real. I recall the last belief I finally let go, as a kid, was my belief in Buck Rogers of the 25th Century. This illustration is from my novel “Starflake Rides With the Galactic Bikers” to be released this year.
I begin my illustration with the background. From a photo of a rocky landscape, I cut out the sky because I plan to distort the landscape and I don’t want the sky effected, also it gives me the option to put in any sky I want instead of using the sky, which came with the photo. After adjusting the rocky ground and sky to my liking I add a foreground rock in order to hide the presence of my heroine, Starflake.
Next I clean the photos I had taken of the spaceman and Starflake. By clean, I mean, I knocked out the green screen background behind the models. I use the magic wand tool to knock out most of the background and then use the eraser tool to clean up whatever the magic wand missed. Then I clean the model I had built of the rocket cycle and add all three elements into the background.
I found a photo of a slug and distorted it and placed it onto the background. In order to make it transparent I dropped the opacity level from 100% down to about 41%. I paint shadows with the brush tool using the soft brush instead of the sharp brush. Then I adjust the brightness and contrast of the figures until I am satisfied and it is done.
Here you can see the final illustration in color but the book buyers will see this illustration in black and white because the cost of color is nearly four times the price of black and white and we would have to charge a huge amount for the novel. But the cover is in full color.