Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Thorny Cover- Part 1


I've spent most of the summer cranking out a sketch dummy of my next book for children, about the remarkable story of Civil War hero Sarah Edmonds. In between I've done a few editorial jobs, only a few worth noting- including this cover package for the new redesign of Christianity Today. The story is about "Spiritual Formation" which is, for those you who don't speak Christianese, the process of deepening and growing your faith. But the conversation gets sticky with this question: Does the act of spiritual growth start with man or with God himself? You can guess where the various denominations fall in this conversation... but this magazine is aimed at a very ecumenical audience.

What makes this a difficult illustration is addressing both sides of this conversation without drawing a complete visual cliche. I proposed three ideas initially, with two of the three pushing a visual style that is much more at home in my sketchbook... but I thought this might be the right opportunity for a challenging pictorial metaphor.



After I sent three ideas- we selected B because it seemed to address the question of God-Authored or Man-Authored growth most clearly. But, in order to be a bit more even-handed we shifted the guy in the vine from reclined, carried upward to the top, to standing/sort-of climbing.


Here are a few color ideas I tried out, and this never happens, but the first one I did was the winner.




I also drew a spot that went with the cover package and two smaller spots that were in a sidebar article, not attached to the cover. The visual language of the little spots shifted a bit to set them apart from the larger story.

Cover work is always exciting, especially with magazines that end up on the bookstore rack. The thrill of seeing it with all the other magazines never gets old for me.

7 comments:

Sam said...

I love seeing the thought process in the sketches here John. It's great seeing how you knocked it out of the park without using the usual "cliches" as you put it. I also really enjoy the two small color spots on the bottom of the post. Reminds me of the color theory you guys taught us.

John Hendrix said...

Thanks sam, just added a small section about color comps for the cover too... same color theory as working in the spots.

Brian Taylor Illustration said...

Looks great. 'B' is definitely the clearest concept. I'll look for this one at Borders...

Sarah Richardson said...

Really like the spot of the watering can entangled in thorns. Kinda desolate feeling, which I assume was the point...but very nice.

John Hendrix said...

I was listening to the audio book of "HP: The Deathly Hallows" while drawing this one... so that may have contributed to the desolate feeling.

Owen Schumacher said...

The spots are gorgeous, John. Luscious colors!

Redbeard said...

Remember the parable of the sower?

The seed sown among the thorns did not bear fruit because the thorns choked it.

And why do God's fingers look so stubby? I know you can draw a better hand if you try.