The Making of a Cover: Costume & Props (plus video)

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAWelcome to the most in-depth, behind-the-scenes, play-by-play account of how a cover is born, from the point of view of the Art Department. We’re charting the conception and birth of the Shadowdance series by David Dalglish.

So far we have talked about the first real step of a book, Acquisitionand then what goes into Cover Briefing. Then we let our minds wander and collect inspiration and form Directions for the cover. Then we agree on a Photographer and Illustrator. We’ve even found our hero, the Cover Model. And we found a Trampoline for him to do stunt work on safely. Now, to outfit him in the proper Costume & Props.

First, we have a fantastic video clip from the day of the photo shoot talking about all the props and costuming…

Our illustrator, Gene Mollica, is an expert when it comes to pulling together the necessary costuming and weapons. He has a great number of artists he works with to either adapt or create custom details, and he really geeks out on it. But first, Art Director Kirk Benshoff had to figure out exactly what these special cloaks were all about…

While I was hunting down a location for the photo shoot and finalizing the logistics with Bryce, I needed to get a costume ready as well. I figured David wasn’t going to be to keen on Haern dressed in an all black sweat suit with a couple inflatable swords for the cover. So I needed to work with our illustrator Gene Mollica to get all the details sorted out on the styling.

But before I go into that, let me tell you a little bit about Gene. Gene is awesome. Gene was that kid who loved fantasy so much as a kid, he never let it go as he got older. You talk to Gene about a project like this and you can feel his enthusiasm over the phone. As an art director, I get even more stoked about the project as I feed off his eagerness.  I gave Gene the details about everything and you can hear his brain running a mile a minute brainstorming about what we can/should/MUST do. Another amazing thing about Gene is he has an arsenal of weapons and props to contribute, either made or modified. I’ve been trying to talk him into letting me use his stuff for Halloween but he been (understandably) hesitant. :)

One of the first things I felt was really important was Haern’s three-piece cloak. Even though there was going to be a lot going on in the pictures, I wanted the cloak to be as accurate as possible. I worked up a few options that I ended up running past David to get his feedback:

Cloak Options
Cloak Options

After talking, David settled on Option #2 which was then sent to Gene and his costume designer.

Final Cloak Sketch

Gene and I needed to work out other details on the cloak as well. What was the color going to be? What kind of fabric did we want to use? Different fabrics can look very distinct once they’re photographed. Also, how was the fabric going to flow with the floor fans once Bryce started running with the cloak on? We want a strong image as a foundation so we can add drama and badass-ness later.

Over the course of the next few weeks we went back and fourth on changes and edits to the final cloak.

Haern was also going to be rocking armor as well. While the Cloak was being made, Gene was getting the leather chest plate, gauntlets, knives, throwing stars, and swords all made. Each piece meticulously put together by hand in amazing detail!

Once all the pieces to the costume were done, we were ready for the shoot and the biggest challenge of my career… finding an available day in everyone’s calendar to schedule the photo shoot. ;)