Greetings Dieselfunkateers!  We are pushing so very hard to deliver the best of expansive narrative and content.  We recently covered the idea of how concept design is utilized in Matty’s Rocket.  One way to look at a Design Challenge is applying what can be called a Design ‘Solution.’  

This solution has to strike a balance or bridge the chasm between not just conveying informational content, but also the emotional arch of the narrative.  One might possibly think that ideas come in a chronological order.  Sometimes they do.  But sometimes, they absolutely don’t.  If anything, ideas and the action of creating ideas, are very much a ‘non-linear’ process.  For the average person, ideas come when and where they are ready to come, based almost purely on experience.  The DESIGNER, as craftsperson, has to call on ideas at will.  Their style, not to mention very often, their livelihood, is dependent upon it.

Thusly, I had to decide, what was it I wanted to convey about Matty’s Rocket?  I wanted the audience to take a feeling of nostalgia and sentimentality based in the American and African-American past.  But I also wanted to pay homage to the masters of cinematic movie and book posters.  It would be an homage to the Struzan style of movie poster. 

To be clear.  I’m a huge Drew Struzan…

James Bama, …

and Jim Steranko fan. 

So I wanted the book to feel like that.  Frankly, the sketches came very quickly.

I then moved on to color, which I felt good about compositionally.  The decision was made to not have the cover be fully painted.  Inked characters would be integrated within a painted environment in line with the graphic novel.  I felt the technical aspects were on point.  However, even after rendering, something didn’t feel right. The feedback from folks I trust ranged from “its great” to “one aspect of the painting was too dominant over another.”  I would spend days doing color correction and re-rendering to see if I could make it work.  But still…

It wasn’t until I expressed to my wife that I didn’t feel right about the cover.  What could possibly be wrong?  She looked at me and said…”It’s too Dark”.   That hit me like a ton of bricks in it’s clarity.  Despite the technical proficiency of the illustration, it was the wrong design solution I was applying.  All of the elements; the dominant klansmen on fire, the horrified family, Matty being overwhelmed.   I was selling Matty’s Rocket as HORROR.

MATTY’S ROCKET IS ALL ABOUT HOPE!

I pulled out my iPhone and quickly drew with my thumb in Autodesk Sketchbook.  The drawing was super rough.  Done in less than a minute.   But it provided the crystal clear color and composition.

Once a direction was in place…in MY HEART, everything went very quickly from there.

Solution applied.

Check out Matty’s Rocket:  Book One at www.dieselfunkstore.com

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