January 27, 2013

Art Directing: Dominick Saponaro!

Art for Unknown Seas

Art for Fire on the Water

Art for Rising Storm 

There was probably only a few days overlap from when I received the details on a new series of omnibus jacket designs for Taylor Anderson‘s Destroyermen series and receiving a handsome promotional package from Dominick Saponaro with examples of his illustrations. It was almost like it was meant to be.

The Books
The Destroyermen series is alternate history chronicling the adventures of the crews of the USS Walker (a U.S. Destroyer) and the Japanese battlecruiser Amagi during the War in the Pacific of WWII. Besides combating each other, these crews are transported to an alternate Earth which is the same geographically but not evolutionary. Now, there are dinosaurs and other species to deal with! I knew I needed illustration that would fit the epic scope of the story but also extremely grounded. Something with boldness and determined expression.

The Illustrator
As I mentioned, I received this very nice and very professional packet from Dominick Saponaro. I don’t get many that are sci-fi or fantasy appropriate these days. When I do receive one, they instantly get my interest and the level of care in this package actually arrested me from my work. Here was the bold, grounded and determined work that would fit. Dominick possesses a quality to his brushwork which reminds me of Leyendecker—boldly placing his strokes on the canvas. Some areas are left chunky and unrefined and there are pure blocks of color and this creates a realness in the viewer’s experience.

Now, after working on 3 Destroyermen books, I have come to learn that he is very conscious of design and composition and spends an equal amount of time creating an almost infinite amount of fully-formed thumbnails.

Dominick is another illustrator to remember and watch. ImagineFX has recognized his work with an honorable mention in the illustration category for their 2012 Rising Stars Competition. His work on Destroyermen has been selected to appear in the prestigious illustration annuals, Spectrum 19 and Expose 10.

A typical array of thumbnails from Dominick with various elements, compositions and color ideas.
Here’s an early sketch from Dominick where we were considering adding in some Brontosaurs in the distance.

Very concerned with color, Dominick and I carefully planned out the color schemes for each cover to ensure that there was great variety from cover to cover. A series of maritime themed books could easily fall into a monotonous rut. With the latest cover, he actually provided me with two fully complete images and the choice.

The Destroyermen Omnibus Series available from The Science Fiction Book Club.