Case Studies:  How It's Done

Book cover artwork for "INSIGHT," a novel by Christina Moss

The author, Christina Moss, provided a descriptive scene from the book which served as the basis for the illustration. The scene was of a couple in spacesuits returning to their spacecraft after walking on the moon's surface and witnessing a solar eclipse.

"A large of part each project involves research and reference material. I studied astronaut paintings from other artists, images of moons, planets and galaxies to determine the look I wanted to achieve."

"The space suits, helmets, boots and ship were each designed independently, worked out in a series of detailed sketches. With these designs finalized, I did an overall sketch including all elements to show the composition of the scene. I then scanned the sketch into the computer to serve as a template for the painting."

FINAL COMBINED PENCIL SKETCH showing the layout and placement of items. This image was scanned and brought into Photoshop to be used as a semi-transparent overlay as a guide for painting.

STAGE ONE: Blocking in the starry sky background, astronauts, the eclipse and the surface area of the moon.


STAGE TWO: Filling in more details, enhancing the sky and roughing in one of several ideas for the moon's surface.


STAGE THREE: Adding the spaceship and refining the concept for the moon's surface.


STAGE FOUR:  Adding planets, finalizing the moon's surface and creating the lens flare effect (manually, no automatic filters).  To help create the look of the lunar terrain I used a couple of rough, rock images from— an excellent online resource for free downloads of a great variety of backgrounds.



STAGE FIVE: Finished artwork with final lunar surface, details applied to the spaceship, spacesuits, sky background and the face of the female astronaut. The spacecraft, figures, moon surface and lens flare of the solar eclipse were each painted on independent layers so they could be moved about, to fine tune their placements.



PHOTOGRAPHY: I asked a friend with just the right look to model for the female astronaut. I simulated the light as it might appear inside an illuminated space helmet (and with the ambient and reflected lighting in the scene) by placing a diffused lamp directly above her head.

"Although this was my first book cover illustration, the image later went on to be published as a two page spread in Advanced Photoshop magazine."  — Brad Fraunfelter

More case studies coming soon...

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