De­velop your art on the can­vas

Dis­cover how one artist is able to bring their own style to an es­tab­lished comic se­ries, as Ge­orge Pratt ex­plains how he paints a Fables cover

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Ge­orge Pratt paints the cover for the lat­est Fables.

for a long time now I’ve en­joyed the artists that Ver­tigo has used for the Fables comic cov­ers. James Jean’s cov­ers were spec­tac­u­lar and João Ruas is no slouch. I had heard that João had left the se­ries and was sur­prised – and pleased – when Ver­tigo edi­tor Shelly Bond de­cided I should cre­ate a cover for Fables is­sue 127. Mine would be the last of that par­tic­u­lar story arc, with the other three

1 Sketch with pho­tos

Be­fore I send sketches I’ll work out ideas very sim­ply, fo­cus­ing more on ges­ture than ac­tual draw­ing. Once I’m happy with a few of these I’ll go ahead and shoot ref­er­ence to work from. I shoot dig­i­tally these days and work from black and white im­ages. I’ve in­cluded two of the ref­er­ence shots here with the bless­ings of the model, Onoh. My sketches are never very de­tailed and luck­ily the ed­i­tors I’ve col­lab­o­rated with trust my in­stincts enough to work with looser sketches. cov­ers be­ing sup­plied by John Van Fleet, Greg Ruth and Dan Dos San­tos. Pretty good com­pany!

Shelly for­warded me some notes by writer Bill Willing­ham, which gave me a clear sense of the story. They were orig­i­nally look­ing for a Bat­tle Royal scene with quite a few char­ac­ters from the se­ries. Not quite the type of im­age I pro­duce, re­ally. My im­ages are more iconic, deal­ing with one or two

2 Tak­ing the next step

I was hired to do this cover as I was leav­ing to go teach at the Il­lus­tra­tion Academy, which I do ev­ery sum­mer in Kansas City. We have life draw­ing two nights a week there and I was able to hire Onoh to pose for Rose Red. Turns out she’s a fan of the se­ries, so she was ex­cited to work with me on this. I spent a good deal of time play­ing with the light while shoot­ing. Mov­ing it about con­stantly look­ing for some­thing that would so­lid­ify the sil­hou­ette and ac­cen­tu­ate the forms nicely. It’s de­sign­ing with the light – push­ing shad­ows and try­ing to show more with less. char­ac­ters. I felt the main thrust of the piece was the fight be­tween Rose Red and Prince Bran­dish. I chose to fo­cus en­tirely on Rose Red and the feel­ing that her bat­tle is also an in­ner strug­gle.

I’m a tra­di­tional artist and de­cided to work the fi­nal in oils, al­though I blended in other me­dia. Work­ing with Shelly on this cover was a joy. Her in­sights were won­der­ful and she was pretty hand­soff through­out the process.

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