Sunday, October 11, 2009

From Soil to Shale process

Dogs of Winter are releasing an acoustic version of Beneath the Fold from their latest album From Soil to Shale next week... it's beautiful and haunting, and you can download it free from their website! Ryan asked me to do a process post to go with the release, so here's how I came up with the cover.

Step 1:

At the beginning of the project, Ryan gave me the 9 tracks to use as a guideline, plus the title From Soil to Shale. I used the title and the imagery it suggests as a base, keeping it in mind as I listened to the songs over and over, jotting down ideas as they came into my head. I came up with a few dozen thumbnails, which I edited down and sent the ones I was happiest with to Ryan. This one was the most iconic, and seemed to work best as the cover:

I imagined the top and bottom as 2 separate images that the viewer's mind would connect. The top image is straightforward, a gnarled tree, but where the ground would be is a separate image of shattered shale, in which the crack doubles as a visual representation of the roots.

Step 2:

Loose tonal structure to see how the composition would work.

Step 3:

Here's a preliminary version of the final image. Tonally it's working, but the linework isn't there yet.

Step 4:

More detail added to the crack, the bottom is finished. For the top half I did the final tree drawing in pencil, scanned and overlayed it on a neutral background.

Step 5:

Shading added to the tree in Photoshop

Step 6:

Different values are layered in the background of the top image using a large spatter brush in Photoshop. I used this brush throughout the series as a unifying element.

Step 7:

In the final step, I added a slight yellowish cast to the image.


  1. I came to your blog randomly (next blog from monday art day.
    Very nice work...I think I'm going to add you to my follow list.

  2. This is incredible. Thanks for sharing your art.