Welcome to the
BOUNDERS Cover Reveal and Interview with Cover Illustrator Antonio Caparo
a guest post by Monica Tesler
I am so excited to reveal the cover for BOUNDERS, the first book in my debut middle grade science fiction series coming in early 2016 from Simon & Schuster/Aladdin. And I’m particularly delighted to share the cover here at Project Mayhem.
A few years ago, just as I was jumping into the query trenches with BOUNDERS, I entered a contest at Project Mayhem hosted by former Mayhemmer, Mike Winchell. As one of the top finalists in the contest, I won an opening pages critique from current Mayhemmer, Dianne Salerni. Her feedback was instrumental in helping me mold BOUNDERS into the book it is today. So when I prepared for the cover reveal, I knew Project Mayhem would be the perfect place.
I am so happy that Antonio Caparo, my incredibly talented cover illustrator, agreed to answer a few questions about his work and the design process behind the BOUNDERS cover. When I first saw the cover art, I was blown away. The illustration is stunning, unique, and perfectly captures my book and its characters.
First of all, Antonio, I have to tell you how much I love the BOUNDERS cover! I can’t imagine a more perfect illustration to introduce this story and these characters. So thank you! And thanks for answering a few questions. Kicking things off, how did you get started in cover illustration?
I studied Graphic Design at the Superior Institute of Design in Havana. On the first year I found a book at the Institute’s library: Guide to Fantasy Art Techniques. It contained interviews to some of the most prolific artists of the moment: Jim Burns, Chris Foss, Boris Vallejo, Syd Mead. I was totally blown away and that defined a path for me. I would do Graphic Design, Comics or Animation on my professional life but illustrating Sci-Fi and Fantasy books became a passion and an obsession for me.
Well I’m very happy that it did! On the business side of things, who do you work with at the publishing house? And how does the process get started?
The process starts at my agency. They contact me about a possible project. Apart from dates, budget and terms they usually share some basic information about it to see if I’m interested and if I agree then I get in touch with the publishing house, most frequently the Art Director to discuss the project in detail.
I’m often asked—and I’m curious myself—how is the scene or image for the cover determined? How much direction are you given from the publisher?
This varies depending on the project. Sometimes they just give me a rough concept of what they want, others they give me a more precise description of a scene, main characters, general tone and sometimes I get total freedom to present my own ideas. Most Art Directors send me samples from both my portfolio with the pieces they like the most and from other covers in the market.
How much information I get varies from project to project. Some Art Directors share the entire manuscript to read and sometimes I can’t get more than a brief description to work with.
Now moving on to BOUNDERS, could you describe your actual design process for the cover?
I had the opportunity to read the entire manuscript so I was lucky to have a great input from the book and its fascinating characters. The more I can read into a book the more ideas will come to my mind. I ended up doing four different sketches. I always use ballpoint pen on a sketchbook to doodle the first concepts, it is the fastest way for me to put the ideas out of my mind.
Then I re-drew the most promising ones with graphite pencil, scanned them and added some quick splashes of grey and cyan in Photoshop to define lights and shadows before sending the sketches to the Art Director.
As you can see here I was so fascinated by the idea of the spheres of light that I went ahead and created a batch of light spheres ecosystems in a 3D program that I used both in the sketches as in the final image.
The selected one -which happily was also my favorite- got a color treatment with the final color palette and after a final review and some minor adjustments from the publishing house I got approved to proceed to finals.
So the process for the final image started. I placed the final sketch in a separate layer in a Photoshop file and having it as a guideline I started to build the final image from the background -back wall, station structures- up to the foreground -kids, spheres of light and effects-
There is so much energy and movement in the BOUNDERS cover. How do you bring those elements into an illustration?
The first roughs I did were a bit static and I felt they didn’t catch the feeling of the book quite right. So I started by twisting the horizon. It is a simple technique that helps accent the sense of action and peril. I also exaggerated the body poses cheating gravity a bit but without making them look like superheroes because above all I wanted them to look as regular kids. I also played with dynamic compositional lines trying to connect one element to another with a sort of musical rhythm to make the viewer spins around the cover. Also the light played an important role here. For an image with so much movement as this one you need a clear focus point to connect and organize all the elements together.
That is so cool! I loved getting a behind-the-scenes peek at how the BOUNDERS cover was created. What do you like most about being a cover illustrator?
I have done different kinds of illustrations from school textbooks to advertising but the possibility to create a single image that encompass a story is specially challenging and exciting. A cover is a door into the book and getting it done right is a difficult task. You need to show a bit of a story or magnetic characters -but not too much- that hook the readers and make them want to know more, to travel inside the pages.
That is a perfect way to explain the importance and magic of a cover, particularly for middle grade books! Where can we find out more about you and your incredible work?
My personal website is:
And this is the site of my agency, Shannon Associates:
And my personal blog:
Thanks so much for answering a few questions and sharing your art, Antonio! I am so happy that we got the chance to connect over the terrific cover you created for BOUNDERS!
And now, find out more about BOUNDERS and see the final cover!
With an alien threat on the horizon, they don’t have much time to decide.
Monica Tesler lives in a coastal community south of Boston with her husband and their two boys. She is the author of BOUNDERS, a new middle grade science fiction series coming in early 2016 from Simon & Schuster/Aladdin. You can find her online at www.monicatesler.com and on twitter as @MonicaTesler.