The story of this book cover illustration can only be called serendipitous. A few of years back I was experimenting with charcoal. At the time I did a lot of work with graphite pencil but never felt very confident about charcoal. At some point, determining that it was a failed experiment I put it into a plastic sleeve and dumped it on a high shelf.
A while later, good friend Kavita Kané came poking around my work room, discovered it, and when I said I didn’t like it she asked for it, happily took it home, framed it and displayed it. Can’t say I was very thrilled; if she was going to display something I would have preferred an art piece I was really proud of.
Fast forward to the beginning of this year. Kavita has almost completed her second book, and the first being a bestseller, she’s in the position to harangue her poor publisher into agreeing to consider a cover of her choice. She wants it to be my incomplete charcoal sketch. Hurray!
Clockwise from top left : The original charcoal sketch. The final version. Hand-done drawings from the background - forest and Ram, Sita, Laxmana. The completed cover almost ready to send off to the publisher. Kavita Kane with the original sketch framed in the background.
I was pleased of course, ( but that one…?!) So we take it out of the frame, and I scan and play around with it in graphic programmes. Narrowing the face, Widened the forehead, printing it out, adding more details in graphite pencil, changing to more princess-like jewelry… In general turning her from rustic to royal. Or that was my intention, fiddle, fiddle, fiddle until I was really pleased with her.
And then of course there was all the rest to add – background, other characters.
A fortnight later, the cover was all ready for the publisher, and I think they too were a lot happier with the outcome than they’d been with the original. Well, it’s out in print now. Available to order here Sita’s Sister
As mythology based books go, monochromatic is unusual in the market I believe, so let’s hope to disprove that as Sita’s Sister flies off the shelves as fast as the earlier book.