Cover Art for Fantasy Novel “Quests Volume 2: The Paths of Fire and Earth”

I love this cover that I did for Barbara G. Tarn’s new fantasy novel, “Quests Volume 2: The Paths of Fire and Earth.”  Fantasy readers, check out Author Barbara G. Tarn’s blog here.

Cover Art for Fantasy Novel "Quests" By Barbara G. Tarn by Cover Illustrator and Artist Shafali

It’s one of my favorite covers so far. I had been waiting for the book to come out so that I could share it with you. More soon.

You can download the book on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071XR1311/.

My Egyptian Short Stories Collection needs a Cover Artist!

I am planning more than I am doing.

And one of things I am planning on doing is: writing a collection of short-stories set in Ancient Egypt. No mistake there. I am writing, NOT illustrating this collection. But why not? Come to think of it, if writing comes to publishing, I’d need a cover, and all the serious writer-bloggers who’ve self-published recommend that we must never make the cover ourselves. We must shell out some moolah and hire a good cover artist for our books. I agree whole-heartedly. I mean, if all writers began illustrating their own book covers, we’ll be soon out of business.

Note that a lone eye like the one below isn’t something that I am going to put on the cover. It merely tells that the artist who did this was lazy.

Egyptian Eye - Artwork for short story "The King's Chamber" by shafali.

So stretching the main logic some more and spreading it quite thin, when I write a book, I must hire a cover artist to do the cover. Hiring myself is beyond my own modest means, which means that I must find another. However, my mean-means would allow me to get only stick-figure artists!

Do you see my dilemma?

I think I’ll try to haggle with myself and try to get me to reduce my fee, but I know that my charges are very reasonable, and I’d feel terrible about bringing my own price-points down.

Do you realise that this is a Catch 22?

I think I should sling my camera around my neck, get into my time-machine, go to ancient Egypt, and shoot some pictures for my cover.

But another writer’s blog recommends that illustrated covers sell better than photographic ones, especially for the fantasy and historical fiction genres; and the fuel-bill for the time machine would burn a whole in my already quite hole-y pocket.

Have you noticed that I am stuck? 

And this is why I must plan the whole thing again! Meanwhile, if my author/artist friends shared their experiences and suggestions, I’d be grateful. I am serious about this short-story collection, so please take me seriously.

Cover Art for Fantasy Novel “Kaylyn – The Sister in Darkness” by Barbara G. Tarn.

Ten years after the return of the crusader, his people know he’s evil and try to get rid of him and his wife. Kaylyn escapes the fire of Baldwin’s manor with Bran’s help and leaves Lincolnshire for good. A long journey through 12th century Europe allows her to meet other fledglings of her mysterious maker, Bran the Raven. Then it’s Muslim Spain and up to Damascus, where everything started for Baldwin.

A travel journal through the centuries across Europe, North Africa, Asia on the Silk Road, to the court of Kublai Khan and then India for the making of her brother-in-darkness, Rajveer…

… And it’s only half of Kaylyn’s story!

Last month, Barbara G. Tarn commissioned me for her second book in the Vampire Through Centuries series. Here’s the cover of the book, which is now available for pre-order.

Cover Art for Novel - Kaylyn the Sister in Darkness by Barbara G Tarn - Medieval Vampires
My process of working on Ms. Tarn’s books begins by my reading her stories (yes, you got it. First, I get to savor the worlds she builds, enjoy the company of the characters she creates, and visit the places they go – in this case, medieval Europe and India.) She’s an awesome client, who sends me a folder of references along when she books me for a commission. In this particular case, those references helped me visualize Kaylyn’s dress correctly (12th century Europe.) The mansion behind too required help – a building from the same time, it had to be mansion (not a palace, nor a church.)

I’d like to thank Barbara G. Tarn for the opportunity.

Do visit Unicorn’s Productions website to check out the other books by this fantastic Fantasy Author and visit her personal blog here.

Yuki’s Portrait – Novel Cover Art for Galaxy Police by Barbara G.Tarn

I worked on a novel cover this week, and loved the experience.

Here’s the Cover of Star Minds’ Interregnum – Galaxy Police, a book by Barbara G. Tarn.

Cover Art for Novel - Face of Chinese Woman Galactic Police of Star Mind series by Author Barbara G. Tarn
Visit http://www.amazon.com/dp/B014QDXQXE to download the book, and http://creativebarbwire.wordpress.com to visit the author’s blog.

About my Client and the Author Barbara G. Tarn:

Working with Barb is always a fantastic experience. She gives me a lot of independence, allows me to add the details that I want to, and accommodates my idiosyncrasies. – but above all, she’s a lovely person.

I begin on any of her cover assignments after I’ve understood the storyline and figured out the role of the cover-art subject(s). Yuki, for instance, works in the Galaxy Police and she has a special ability – she can read clothes. The Yuki I met in the story is a confident woman who has a soft heart. Chinese faces are neotenous (they have childlike features – you can read more about neoteny in my book “Evolution of a Caricaturist,”) and a smile would’ve made her look even younger. So I went for a serious-but-soft look. If you are wondering about what made that look soft, you must look at her lips. Her lips are very slightly parted and turned up at the corners.  As one ages, lips thin out and the line of the mouth straighten in the middle (the pursed lips look.)

 

Do visit “Creativity Carnival – Faces” before you leave 🙂

Cover Art for a Vampire Novel makes the Caricaturist travel into the Past.

Though this might be news to my Blogging101 co-bloggers, my old friends and visitors know that I own a Time Machine.

It is an old 2052 model TimMaX110, but except for sundry fuel issues, it works just fine. I confess that I bought it online. There were many options – at different price-points; the Chinese was the cheapest, the Made-in-Germany was the most expensive (and the possibly the best), but finally I settled for the Made-in-America TimMaX110. All these models are from the future, so you wouldn’t have heard of them. It should suffice to say that I own a TimMaX, which sputters a bit while revving up, its fuel gauge doesn’t work, once in a while it lands in odd times and places, and while its mileage does burn a hole in my purse, the pickup is so good that it almost leaves the rear-end of the machine behind.

When I took this specific trip into the past, for the first time, all through the trip my TimMaX didn’t splutter or faint on me. I had to pick up Rajveer the vampire in the thirteenth century, then stopover in the sixteenth and the twentieth centuries, before we returned to the present. The space-coordinates were all located in India – thanks to this particular Italian client o’mine who loves India (for reasons that she explains in her interview below.)

Before I introduce you to the author Ms. Barbara G.Tarn, let me show you the cover that I painted for her book Rajveer the Vampire, which you can pre-order on Apple USBarnes&Noble,  Kobo and Smashwords.

Cartoon, Comic Strip - Barbara G. Tarn and Hrithik Roshan by Barbara

Rajveer the Vampire – an historical fantasy novel by Barbara G.Tarn

In this new novel, Barbara G.Tarn combines her love for history (especially medieval) and fantasy. It’s the story of a vampire through the centuries that will appeal to both historical fiction readers and vampire lovers all over the world.

A “sun clan” warrior can never become a true child of darkness.
In 14th century India, Rajveer, a proud Rajput warrior of a Suryavanshi clan, is turned into a bloodsucker by an ancient Celtic vampire. Immortal, he loses his family to war and time and travels through northern India, seeing history unfold. Threatened by both human wars and evil vampires, can he remain true to his sworn vow not to take human lives?
A vampire’s journey through centuries.

Barbara G. Tarn write fantasy literature of a different kind. While most vampire-stories are set in a dark place with pale vampires who have scarlet lips and protruding fangs that drip blood, her stories are set in our world. They are spaced in time, but her well-researched descriptions of those other places and times makes one wonder whether she has lived it all.

She agreed to answer a few questions for this post, and I am mighty glad she did, because these questions have been troubling me ever since I began doing her covers.

Q1. You are an Italian but your novels have many Indian characters. And in your latest novel “Rajveer the Vampire,” not only your main protagonist Rajveer is an Indian, the novel has been set in India. Why are you so smitten with India? 

I guess I summarized it pretty well here… Gee, five years ago already! Where did time go?! Anyhow, it’s probably also a question of previous lives. I know I had some very good life in the European Middle Ages (before guns ruined everything for everyone) and then there was probably some other life spent in India, and it stuck to me… I have also noticed a lot of similarities – besides the name of the country (India-Italia – 5 letters, start with I ends with A) – so even if on the planet we look far away, I think we are very similar…

Q2. The Chinese, the Japanese, the Africans, the Australians, and the Alaskans are all waiting for their turn to feature in your novels. When is that likely to happen?

Japan is my next intercontinental destination. Some day I hope to get to visit my friends down under as well – and study the Aboriginal people. China and Africa will probably have their own vampire mythology, since Rajveer the Vampire will probably be the first of many… Alaska is a very cold place and I’d love to visit it one day! Although… I don’t really need to go there in person to write about countries and places. I haven’t been to India yet, after all… but hope to before I write the second book of the series, so I can show it with Westerner’s eyes!

Q3. Some say that you share a mysterious chemistry with a certain Bollywood star, and his dreams inspire some of your books. Is there’s any truth in these rumors?


barb and hrithik comic cartoon by barbara g tarn

Does this answer your question?

More can be found in 15 years of Creative Barbwire – and maybe soon in another strip or single vignettes (sometimes I publish them on my blog, sometimes I keep them private. Or you can admire my procrastination techniques… Now I better go back to writing!

Please visit Unicorn Productions for more of Barbara’s works. Do visit and follow her blog at creativebarbwire.wordpress.com.

 

Caricature Art – Bill Clinton’s Charming Smile envelops Little Rock, Arkansas :)

Everyone knows Bill Clinton. We know him for a multitude of reasons. Here are those engraved upon the tip of the iceberg.

  • Being the President of The United States
  • Having a super-cute smile and his boyish charm
  • Being involved in an oval-office misadventure with a certain Monica Lewinsky
  • Being the husband of  Ms. Hillary Clinton

I think he is one of the most recognized American Presidents, with possibly just one exception (who else but  President Barack Obama,) and trust me when I tell you that until a month ago, I had never caricatured him! Not even a sketch. I did paint his wife Ms. Hillary Clinton as someone who’d be contending the presidential elections of 2016 (yes, in a lucid moment of epiphany, I saw her in the race to the White House.)

Let me come to the point – and tell it to you straight. When I came to know that the Nov/Dec issue‘s cover and inner-spread would require Bill Clinton’s Caricatures, I was shocked to realize that this would be the first time I’d be caricaturing Mr. Clinton.

Bill Clinton Cover Art for Talk Business and Politics Arkansas - Clinton Presidential center, River Market, Heifer International, Pedestrian Bridge Illustration.

We discussed the idea and came up with a gardening metaphor that would capture how the Clinton Memorial Library has led to a lot of development in the surrounding area. You can see that in the spread, the left page shows Clinton planting the library in 2004, and then you see Clinton again, 10 years later feeling happy and proud as he surveys the development. Read the article here.

A Note for Caricaturists/Illustrators:

In 10 years, a person ages. Clinton had also faced certain health issues (in 2004/2005 he underwent surgeries,) which had made him lose a lot of his facial-fat. This is why the pre-2004 Clinton had to look clearly younger than the 2014 Clinton.

But even before I began ironing out the details, I hit a road-block. I like my caricatures to look cute and nice, and despite Clinton’s half-smile, he’s a not an easy guy to caricature. I actually felt glad that I wasn’t caricaturing when he was the President and I honestly don’t envy the caricaturists who were.

Caricaturing Bill Clinton’s face is a challenge, and in this case, ensuring that the age-difference is visible between the two, was an even more difficult task. I worked with the skin-tone, wrinkles (especially those around the eyes), chubbiness, and hair-volume to get the desired effect. 

I’ve also been working on a few other projects (paintings as well as pen and ink drawings) and I’ll post about them soon 🙂 Meanwhile, if you are interesting in learning how to create caricatures, check out “Evolution of a Caricaturist” on Amazon.

 

Cover Art -The American Spectator Magazine October 2013 Issue.

First…

———— An update ————

(for the regular readers, others please skip.)

For the last two months, I’ve been working on something very different and something really detailed…something that has kept me away from creating caricatures for this blog (ok…I did Merkel’s caricature, but other than hers, all the other caricatures that I’ve been doing are for that other project…and oh, that project really has nothing to do with caricatures.) Confused? You should’ve heeded my warning.

———— Update ends ———–

Now let me tell you about my recent work for The American Spectator magazine. I painted the cover page of the October issue of the magazine, which features three of the most admired Presidents of the United States. The forever young and handsome John F. Kennedy, the White House Cowboy Ronald Reagan, and the silent but strong Calvin Coolidge.

My copies arrived two days ago, and just before I finished work last night, I took this picture of it.

The American Spectator Magazine Issue October 2013 on my Desk.

The American Spectator Magazine Issue October 2013 on my Desk. The Cover Features Three Past US Presidents – John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Calvin Coolidge. (Click to enlarge.)

The Story of the Cover’s Creation

When I learned that The American Spectator would like to me to paint the three Presidents together, I felt really happy. I love to paint caricatures with stories, and painting three well-known faces in the same picture along with a story that made them look like they were friends-forever, was something that made me want to drop everything else and work on it.

I sent in the sketch. While everything else in the sketch remained the same as what you see here, I had an open window behind President Reagan and you could see the earth through it. My idea was that these guys could get together only in heaven – and this would add to the effect. This of course, didn’t make to the final painting – nor did Reagan’s hat on a peg – because that would have me add a wall behind them, and a wall would make their environment appear claustrophobic. I am sure that even in heaven, the American Presidents would be given beautiful, spacious quarters… so I decided to add those French Windows looking out into a haze of clouds.

Painting the Caricatures of the Three Presidents

Painting John F. Kennedy’s Caricature

I had drawn President Kennedy‘s face before, so I knew his face well. What I didn’t know was the exact color of his hair. I checked out a lot of pictures of his, and his hair looked different in every one of them. It varied from black, to dark brown, to light brown, to reddish-brown, to golden.  I still don’t know. But he looks like himself and that’s good enough for me 🙂

(President Kennedy’s Black and White Caricature done a couple of years ago.)

Painting Ronald Reagan’s Caricature

President Reagan’s face is tough to caricature. If a caricature-artist wants to challenge himself  (or herself – excuse the stereotyping, but truth be told, most of our kind are men,) he should try caricaturing Reagan’s face. I had to do a lot of research to figure out what he liked to wear as casuals. (In fact, I came across a picture in which he was wearing checks in a meeting with Margaret Thatcher.) I realized that he loved horses and I thought that his cowboy getup in denims would be just right for the occasion. He could’ve returned from a pegasus-ride, or could be going for one. (Fellow Artists, note that according to the light outside of the windows, it could be late morning or early afternoon)

Painting Calvin Coolidge’s Caricature

President Calvin Coolidge was a visual enigma. I had sketched him on the right side of the page, which meant that I should show his left profile. After hours of research, I came to the conclusion that because President Coolidge had little hair on the left side of his head, he always got his portraits painted/photographs taken to show the right side of his head.  I had absolutely no idea what his left profile looked like, until I came upon a 1924 video of one of his public addresses (after he had fixed the Great Depression?) and in that video he twice turned to show his left profile to the camera. I know that he must’ve berated himself for it later, but what was done was done – and a happy caricaturist returned to her drawing board – knowing exactly what to paint.

And the Concept…

…that their topic of discussion is this specific article about JFK actually being a conservative (and this is why JFK’s got the magazine in his hand,) was super awesome – it came from the super-creative Managing Editor of the magazine! It just made the picture-puzzle fit. Speaking of picture-puzzles, I am reminded of the project…I need to go back to work.

Meanwhile, here’s the image closer up.

Cover Art for the October 2013 Issue of the American Spectator Magazine Presidents John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Calvin Coolidge.

Two other Interesting facts:

More later…

And oh,

do you want to know how “really” Newton happened to discover gravity? I have the inside scoop…return if you are interested 🙂

Cover Art -The American Spectator Magazine July-August 2013 Issue.

I was earlier planning to post a caricature of Julia Gillard along with my story of why she resigned from her position as the Australian Prime-Minister, but when I received my copies of the American Spectator Magazine’s July-August issue, I couldn’t resist from sharing these pictures here.

Let me start by showing you the magazine.

The American Spectator Magazine Cover - July August 2013 Issue Cover Art - The Radio Family by Shafali Anand

The American Spectator – July-August Issue 2013 on my Desk. (Click to enlarge.)

The Story of the Cover’s Creation

When I heard from the magazine that they’d like me to do the cover for the July/Aug issue for them, I felt thrilled yet a bit anxious. A cover is, well, a COVER. I could live with having forgotten to paint those draw-strings on Red’s pajamas, but when an image is destined to become the cover of a magazine, it asks for a lot more dedication from the artist.

The requirement was – an American family of 1940s/50s, gathered around the radio. Sounds simple, right? Let us analyze.

An American family? That was easy. I am so completely into Hollywood movies, American News (CBS News is on my top-bar,) and American sitcoms that I often think of myself as a virtual American.

But an American family of 1940s/50s? I wasn’t even born in the 40s and 50s. In fact, my mom must have been a little girl back then. So, I had to research. I had to research the radio, the dresses, the toys, the papered walls, the floral couches, the pooch (who would’ve been a cocker-spaniel if my friend Nancy wouldn’t have told me that the middle-class family in those days would likely own a mutt and not a spainel,) and the colors that would make it look more like the 1940s.

So, upon receiving the requirement, I did my research, got it all into a sketch, and sent it over for approval. After they okayed it I began painting…and I did little more than paint for the next many many many hours. Eventually, a very tired, zombie-like me sent the artwork to the Magazine , plopped down on the bed and got ported to Atlantis. The next morning, I heard from them that they were happy with it. I took a small break from work and then returned to work on a Graphic-design project.

Then two days ago, I received the copies of the magazine. The cover looked even better than I thought it would. The Design team had done such a great job on it. The subtle, low-intensity colors in the Title, the subtitle, and the top and bottom bars integrate with the picture seamlessly. I was so happy when I looked at it that I decided to photograph it and post it along with the artwork.

Here’s the image closer up.

Cover Art for the American Spectator Magazine - July August 2013 Issue - The Radio family of 1940s - Shafali

I’ll return with Ms. Gillard’s story soon 🙂 Until then keep drawing to smile.