Evolution of a Cover: Penny

In creating the Penny cover, John really defined a signature TaleSpins look. The biggest help I offered to this end was (eventually) getting the hell out of his way. That said, it all started with this sketch I did while still writing the story. I’m the first to admit, I’m WAY too proud of it and attached to it. Thankfully, I knew the ultimate task was to let the professional artist do his job . . .


. . . but not right away. I sent him this rough layout concept with the same direction I always give him: “Something like this . . . or totally different and much better.” This concept includes an idea I had for the title treatment that I thought might work. (It didn’t.) At the time, I also thought it was a no-brainer to include Penny’s My Stepmom Wants Me Dead T-Shirt for hook/marketing reasons. (I was wrong about that, too). Note: The cottage in this collage-mess is a spot illustration John did for 8.

Following my direction, John first did the “something like this” version. The result was too young and was, paraphrasing his take: an assembly of parts, which is a recipe for artistic mediocrity. At this point I (finally) let him sit with the story and the character.



. . . which turned out to be quite a good idea on my part. See? From the character design to the typography, what eventually became the final cover was clearly taking shape. The only comment at this stage was to make sure the witch’s place was less castle and more candy cottage. We were on our way!


Then some color was added, and depth via shadowed trees. Her ear got covered by her hair (cleaner), and the design on both Penny and the cottage were refined. Also, Jink and the rat went from rough sketch to drawing. The TaleSpins logo was placed in to see where it might work best. (Hint: not there.)



Next we got a color palette upgrade to purple and the type got the bottle-green hue, which makes sense as the words are formed from the rising smoke. My name was added, and the black frame got some ornamental touches. Also, Jink and the rat were refined, and their stained-glass window environment was finalized. Lastly the TS logo found its home on the forest hill.


And then we have the final version that went to publication in February of 2012. The last changes were minimal, but there are 6 of them. Can you see what they are? Leave your observations in the comments section.



As always, thanks for checking out the blog.


2 thoughts on “Evolution of a Cover: Penny

  1. Thanks Maureen. Good eye. I was indeed counting the moving of my name and the deletion of “By” as 2 changes. I see what you mean about it being harder from the page. I, of course, did it the easy way: toggling back and forth between the 2 images like an animated gif. And thank you for the Kreativ Blogger nomination! I’ll be fulfilling the “duties” this morning.

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