Personal Project: The Sky is Everywhere Cover Design

Monday, April 24, 2017

My watercolor cover illustration for the book The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Today I thought that I would share a recent personal project of mine that I created just for fun. I wanted to illustrate a cover for my favorite book The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, and I thought that I would share the process (and finished result) with you. 

If you have never read the book, it's a love story, but it's also a story of grief. The main character, Lennie, just lost her sister and the story describes how she tries to cope with a world that doesn't have her sister in it. I'm really bad at describing books to other people, but just trust me - it's so good! It's hilarious, clever, heartbreaking, and unique. One of the reasons I love it so much is the writing - the way the author puts things into perspective makes you think about things in a way that you never thought of before (at least for me).

Flower sketches and thumbnails for my cover illustration of the book The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

So the first thing I did before starting the illustration was to think about the main themes of the book. Even though Lennie was left reeling after the death of her sister, she didn't truly find herself and actually LIVE until she was left alone and sisterless. Before, she had always felt mild, but after her sister's death she not only experienced the extreme lows, but also the incredible highs of life. Because of this, the book makes you feel very hopeful. Flowers and music are also important parts of the book, and I knew that I would be creating flowers. 

I wanted to capture the feeling of the book with the flowers and the composition. Therefore, I wanted to show an explosion of flowers to symbolize Lennie "after," depicting all the hopeful and joyous new feelings that she experiences. Above you can see my thumbnail sketches of how I wanted the layout, as well as sketches of what kind of flowers and leaves I wanted to include.

Watercolor sketches and color swatches for my cover illustration of the book The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

With my colored pencil sketches done, I started mixing paint colors and swatching them so that when I went to paint the finished piece, I would have all the colors mixed and ready. I also "sketched" the flowers out in watercolor to see how my previous drawings would look translated into watercolor and in the actual colors I had decided on. 

Title sketches on tracing paper for my cover illustration of the book The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Next, I was ready to sketch out the flowers for the final piece. But first I had to start with the lettering. Even measuring and whatnot, I cannot center lettering on a page to save my life! So I wrote out the title and author on tracing paper to transfer. I liked the look of the title in skinny caps and the author name in a lowercase cursive. I just feel like it fits the vibe. 

My finished watercolor illustration of the cover of the book The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Lastly, I sketched out the flowers and then painted them. You can see the finished piece above. I used bright contrasting colors that kind of clash a bit, but not in a jarring way (Hopefully?). I think that sort of goes along with the theme of the book as well, fitting with Lennie's idea of "messesentialism," and accepting the craziness of life, the good and the bad.

Like I said before, I'm not good at explaining myself with words, so hopefully you kind of understood my thinking behind the piece, especially if you have actually read the book and know what I'm talking about! If you haven't read the book, first of all, you should go read it already! Haha but really, if you haven't read it, hopefully you still understood my thoughts behind the artwork or at least enjoyed this weird little show and tell.

Anyway, I love talking about books, so let me know your thoughts on the book in a comment! Have you read it? Let's discuss! ;D

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