Viking: The Ways of the Dead

Viking/Penguin: Ways of the Dead
An interesting challenge came in the form of a book cover project for Viking last fall. The assignment was the cover illustration for The Ways of the Dead, the first in a series of crime novels by Neely Tucker. The art direction was to hint at an eerie crime scene on the backstreets Washington D.C., and to do it without any figures – which are usually pivotal in the majority of murders.
Viking/Penguin: Ways of the Dead
Without the human element, I threw myself into researching alleyways and refuse containers (not always easy to access by the way) and noticed a certain sickly green glow from fluorescent lights in entryways and loading zones would often lend a claustrophobic edge to the space. The dumpster in the piece also took on its own character so I played with different compositions and proximity from the viewer within the alley.
Viking: Ways of the Dead
The final illustration was painted digitally using Photoshop and Corel Painter and underwent a few rounds of punching up the contrast to help make the shadows feel deeper and inkier. Art Direction by Alison Forner.


Getting the chance to illustrate short fiction has been such a pleasure that I'm actually starting to feel a tiny bit guilty about it. I received an assignment from the Atlantic last month for a piece by Stuart Nadler entitled "Visiting" which, after reading, had already conjured such an atmospheric picture of this quiet, slightly suffocating afternoon trip by a father and his estranged son that I really just felt like I was reporting sketches from the scene.

Below are the idea sketches mocked up on the page to see how they fit with the spread, and the finished piece above was done with ink and wash and then colored digitally, and should be available now on stands in the Atlantic's annual fiction issue. Thanks to Melissa Bluey for making it such an enjoyable project.