STEP ONE ILLUSTRATION BRIEF / CONCEPT
"When her mother forfeits her to the fairies, a fiercely independent twelve-year-old girl must use her magical affinity for parsley to escape the fairies' ravenous clutches and get back home."
 In the classic Italian fairy tale, a young mother steals parsley from the Faery Queen's garden while pregnant with her daughter, Prezzemolina. As punishment, the Faery Queen steals Prezzemolina away on the eve of her thirteenth birthday to her castle. In Sean Miller's retelling, the kidnapping happens in modern times and Prezzemolina must use her wits to escape.
This client gave a generous amount of creative freedom for his debut middle grade novel. The requested elements included: lineart reminiscent of a 16th century woodcut, a vaguely historical time period, the Faery Queen's castle in the distance, and the incorporation of a garden.

STEP TWO  SKETCHING THUMBNAILS

With the client's requested elements in mind, I created three rough, small sketches showing young Prezzemolina in a garden. In the original fairy tale, candles play a central role so two of my thumbnails include them. Ultimately, the client selected the second thumbnail for her the Mother Mary-like imagery.

STEP THREE  ROUGH SKETCH & COLOR COMP
The pose from the second thumbnail sketch was incorporated into the background of the third thumbnail sketch to give a better sense of setting. As candles play no significant role in Miller's retelling, her candle was swapped out for a bundle of parsley. 
Originally, I would create a color comp only after a final sketch. In this illustration's case, color was very important to convey a vintage botanical feel and color was included earlier in the process. 
STEP FOUR FINAL SKETCH & FACIAL REFINEMENTS
While the client was pleased with the first sketch, we felt that Prezzemolina's facial features were a bit too cartoony. While this is a middle grade novel,  the character of Prezzemolina is an independent, precocious young woman. To reflect this, I refined her features in a more realistic and mature manner. 
STEP FIVE LINEART
The sketch was followed very closely in the final lineart. It was important to use heavier, darker ink lines than I would ordinarily work with in order to invoke that woodcut feeling. A real dip pen and vintage nibs were used for authenticity.
STEP SIX FINAL ILLUSTRATION: A VINTAGE COLOR PALETTE
Color was an important element in this illustration in order to make a book cover that felt like it could be either vintage or modern. Few changes were made in palette from the earlier color key, other than the parsley border being a more accurate color and the castle becoming a Roccoco-esque mauve. Overall, the palette was warm, muted, and sourced directly from vintage botanical illustrations.

STEP SEVEN THE BOOK COVER

The traditional illustration achieved a vintage look, but for readibility on shelves a higher contrast was created in Adobe Photoshop. After aged fonts were added in Adobe InDesign, the cover was ready for use as a print and e-book. 

For more information on the upcoming book, see http://prezzemolina.seanmiller.us

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