A Basketball Story – Cover

This week I finished illustrations for a new picture book for Entrepreneur Media Inc. Here’s a mock-up of the cover. The final text will be formatted a little different, probably a different font, but this gives you the idea.

A cover mock-up for a picture book titled A Basketball Story:  Always be Humble, based on a true story by:  Miles Davis-Majors and Illustrated by:  Karen B. Jones.  

The cover is divided into four quadrants.  The upper left shows a team picture of the Jackrabbits team, a youth basketball team consisting of players around 10 years old.  The upper right has the same sort of team picture for the Sea Turtles team.  The lower left is a close-up of three Jackrabbit players' faces in profile, receding from the viewer.  The lower right is the same for the Sea Turtles.  The center has a basketball with the title text and bylines overlaid.

A little behind-the-scenes detail: I originally had a different cover design concept in mind (below) but the client wanted this one (above) because they wanted to show everyone on both teams and didn’t want them to look aggressive.

A rough cover mock-up for a picture book titled A Basketball Story:  Always be Humble, based on a true story by:  Miles Davis-Majors and Illustrated by:  Karen B. Jones.  

Two basketball players, both around 10 years old, hold a basketball between them with one hand each.  The other hand for each is a fist.  The Jackrabbit player on the left is frowning with eyes narrowed and eyebrows down.  The Sea Turtles player on the right has a similar aggressive expression, but with his teeth showing.  The Jackrabbits player is an African American boy with his hair bleached blonde on the top.  The Sea Turtles player is an East Asian boy with thick, shaggy hair.  A crowd seated on bleachers is out of focus behind them.

Boy Leaning on Windowsill

Here’s a recent commission for rap artist, David Smith, who goes by the stage name Dave 3X3. This image is to be used for an upcoming album cover. He was wonderful to work with.

Good luck to you, Dave!

A cartoon illustration of a lovesick boy leaning on a windowsill.

This image (above) was based on an earlier image (below) from 2013 with the same character. You’ll notice these aren’t drawn in my typical style. The first was one of my experiments, playing with different ideas. Then I matched the style (and refined it just a little) for the new commission. I like playing with different ideas, and sometimes they even lead to new opportunities.

An illustration of a boy leaning back against a wall with arms crossed.

And always, I am accepting commissions!

Bass Reeves

Here’s an illustration of Deputy US Marshal Bass Reeves riding out of Fort Smith, Arkansas with a warrant in hand. Bass Reeves was the first black Deputy US Marshal west of the Mississippi. He is thought to be the real-life inspiration for The Lone Ranger. He did not have an Indian sidekick named Tonto (which is offensive on a couple of levels) but he did have friends among the indigenous tribes living in the Oklahoma and Indian Territories. The story is that he fled to Oklahoma Territory after he learned about his emancipation from slavery after the Civil War. There he learned several native languages and how to shoot and track. Those skills and contacts, along with his own ingenuity, later helped him track down the outlaws he was charged with capturing as a Deputy US Marshal. Upon his retirement, he had over 3,000 arrests of felons on his record and had killed 14 outlaws, an impressive tally which inspired many stories.

I used some artistic license to give him a white horse, like The Lone Ranger, and the traditional white hat of the western hero. The Fort Smith courthouse is drawn how it looked sometime in the 1870s. I used several reference photos for both the courthouse and Bass Reeves himself.

The font I used on the bottom is named Nashville and designed by Disturbed Type. I like the eroded look to it. I hand drew the letters for his name using the font Tagwood by Intellecta Design as a guide.

An illustration of Deputy US Marshal Bass Reeves riding out of Fort Smith, Arkansas with a warrant in hand.  Bass Reeves was the first black Deputy US Marshal west of the Mississippi.

The Neighborhood’s Night – Page 4

Here’s the second illustration for the book project I just finished for Learning A-Z. Page 4 of The Neighborhood’s Night by Juliana Catherine. This scene is in a cloud to show that it’s a flashback to the previous day when they family had all packed their emergency supplies in preparation to evacuate if the fires got too near. You can see a collection of emergency supplies laid out on the floor ready to be packed into duffle bags, one per person. Mama is putting a tag on little Amir’s ankle so that he can be reunited with the family if he gets separated.

An illustration for page 4 of The Neighborhood's Night by Juliana Catherine.