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"We can't die, Bendis. You know why? Because we are so...very...pretty."
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June 08 2009

How Jo Chen works her cover art magic. A series of sketches and comments from Jo Chen show the steps that turn a conceptual sketch into a cover. The cover is from Star Wars: Invasion.

Wow, I had no idea so much of the process took place on the computer!
Yeah I totally assumed she painted these non-digitally.
Me too!! Glad I'm not the only one who's had his illusions shattered.
Yes, my illusions were totally shattered. When I looked at Jo Chen stuff, I thought "I could never do that!" and now . . . oh, wait, not shattered at all, actually. ;)
I hate her :)
So excited for Star Wars Invasion.
I love Jo Chen's work. What I find most fascinating about the process is that after spending so much time making it pretty, she has to go back and deliberately dirty it up. It works, though.

BTW, the permalink for the article is:
I'm bewildered by how much Photoshop plays into this. Well, maybe not. No, yeah, actually. In Yearbook & Newspaper we didn't make anything near this sort of skill. :)

Jo rocks.
Since when does Jo make all the covers for Season 8? o_O
I suppose a more accurate statement would be that she has done a cover for each issue of Season 8?
I...thought she did?
Jo Chen has not done a cover for each issue of Season 8. Jon Foster did the covers for "Wolves At The Gate" while Georges Jeanty did the variants. There was a bit of fan alarm and Joss commented to clarify things.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2009-06-09 04:05 ]
The act of creation is an ever evolving one, not to mention an exciting one. Plus, painting digitally saves my little ones from tipping over easels, sipping turpentine and eating clay shavings. Creating my color palettes, making the custom brushes, performing the actual brushstrokes with my graphic sylus, applying the highlights, figuring out how to create SFX, etc. all take me just as long to do digitally as they do with natural media. In any case, I'm glad that most of you enjoy the work.
Most of me definitely enjoys the work. One of the best things about BtVS: S8 is seeing what cover wonders await each issue. Cheers, Jo.
I think everyone enjoys your work Jo, they were just unaware of how modern artists work.

I just got my first digital stylus for photo editing (I needed the variable pressure that a mouse can't provide), and I have to say drawing on a computer is no more or less difficult than drawing on natural media. If anything it can be more difficult at times, but it is a lot less messy.
I would think drawing on a computer would be harder because it'd be more slippery. Though of course I'm assuming it's the same as when you have to sign on a computer screen. The technology is probably completely different.. iz an idiot.
All of me enjoys the work.
I don't care how you do it, Jo, I absolutely adore it. My favorite comic book art ever. :D
Jo's work is consistently amazing and looks fantastic. Her work on Buffy is some of my most favourite, ever - after reading this I'm tempted to check out the Star Wars: Invasion series.

I knew that it was (mostly) computer rendered, so I was actually most suprised by the schedule - four days doesn't seem very long to produce such a complex piece. Very impressive!
Hi Jo, I love your work! Having played a little with digital painting, I suspected you were using Corel Painter for at least part of your work. I think I'm going to try experimenting with them wercolour brushes now. Thank you for sharing your process with us!
Plus, painting digitally saves my little ones from tipping over easels, sipping turpentine and eating clay shavings. I can relate ;)

Whether digitally created, or with actual 'paints' there's no denying just how awesome your work is Jo. It's so beautiful and I seriously hope there will be a Chen Covers book someday in the future.

Oh for just a smidgen of your talent. I have tried digital painting a little, I just can't get used to not looking at my hand instead of the screen.....

[ edited by The Do That Girl on 2009-06-09 11:32 ]
I love your covers, Jo, they are gorgeous. This is one of my favourites.
Jo, I echo the wish for a book of covers (coffeetable size!) I love your work, and I'm even more impressed finding out how it's done - I've worked with pencil, oils and acrylics since the mid-60s, but my attempts at computerized artwork? Well, let's just say that finger-painting chimps have nothing to fear from me...
Fascinating. I am a graphic designer/illustrator and I have been looking in awe at her covers- they are so fluid, and have such energy with such a light touch. I have wondered about Jo's process for a while and I loved reading about it. Sometimes I really wish the whole comic was done by her!

Oh, and I have to say this: the computer is just as much a tool for art as a paintbrush ever was. You have to have a tremendous amount of skill to create that caliber of work.
The Do That Girl, it's hard at first to get use to coordinating your hand with what's going on on the screen, but if you keep at it, you get use to it. It's definately worth the effort. :)
I was hoping to find out why her versions of the Buffyverse females are so...breast-y.

waxbanks (et al.)
I don't think they are especialy
larger breasted than the actors,
though the clothes are more 'fitted'
than anything anyone other than
Ms. Carpenter was ever dressed in.

Ms. Chen:
I adore your paintings,
and like many others would love to see
you do interiors. Though at four days to a cover
that seems like it would be nigh imposible to look
I do use a combination of Photoshop and Corel Painter to create the finished painting. I keep both apps open simultaneously and toggle back and forth. I thought I mentioned Painter in my descriptions but I think the DH folks had to edit my prose down. So, end result is a composite of pencils, some times ink, occassionally real watercolors and gouche, Photoshop and Painter. I once even scanned a plate of fork-scraped chocolate icing from cake I was eating to add a layer of texture. It looked too cool to pass up the experiment.
Ha ha ha, that's awesome. I didn't know you could scan icing. Doesn't that get the scanner dirty?

moley75, that's a good cover. A lot of the Runaways covers were fantastic. And "gorgeous" is definitely a word I'd use, and I don't use that word very often.

Just wow.
I'm a little bit in love with the idea of experimenting with "found" textures to scan in and add to cover art.
Ah looking at Jo Chen's work has always made me inspired. Even ten years ago when I was just learning how to seriously draw and CG a friend linked me to her website. :) You've come a long way, Jo. Thank you for being a source of inspiration.
Jo Chen: the artist of our new age- not held back by the old conventions.

Scanning icing. :) I have scanned weird crap for texture before, but that takes the cake! (ahem.)
Hah, dude that's awesome.

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