This is a guest post from Laura Barrett, the talented illustrator who helped make the cover for After the End so beautiful.
Creating a cover for After the End
I was delighted to be commissioned by Little, Brown to illustrate the covers of two of Clare Mackintosh’s books and then equally thrilled when Clare asked me to write a few words about the experience.
A few months after working on the cover for A Cotswold Family Life I was commissioned again by Hannah Wood, the Art Director at Little, Brown to work on the cover for After the End. This was a very straightforward commission, as Hannah had already worked on the design and just needed a drawing of an oak tree in varying stages of bloom. The story is a moving and bittersweet tale of bereavement, so the tree metaphor was perfect.
Drawing the tree
For the cover tree, one half was to be bare and the other with just a few leaves left. I then worked on an option in full bloom and removed the leaves completely from the last tree.
I work digitally, drawing with a Wacom graphics tablet into Illustrator. Sometimes I refer to hand drawn sketches and tracing paper layers, and other times I draw completely freehand. I started off sketching out some trees before deciding drawing straight into Illustrator would be easier.
I drew the trunk and branches separately before drawing lots of individual leaves! Then I duplicated them and attached each one individually to the tree.
I sent the illustrations to Hannah along the way, who placed them directly into the design with an added shadow.
There were very few changes along the way, just to thicken up the tree slightly so that it could be foiled, to vary the shape of the branches and add some pollen. Finally, I was asked to add a bird to the final design. The US cover for After the End uses a swallow as the main element, so I chose to draw my own version. I’m so happy with how this final hardback has turned out too. It was a pleasure to work on two of Clare’s book covers.