It’s sadly been a little while since I posted an Illustrator Spotlight post so I’m very excited to welcome the talented Mélanie Delon to the blog today, who was kind enough to agree to an interview. I know a lot of you have read and loved Scarlet by A. C Gaughen (myself included) and I know I personally fell immediately in love with the cover the first time I saw it, months before it’s release. Mélanie’s digital paintings are simply arresting. I particularly love her historically inspired pieces. Today she tells us a little bit about her work.
Have you worked on a lot of book covers? Is it something you’d be interested doing more of?
I’ve done around 40/50 book covers, mainly for fantasy novels. I truly love doing this kind of work, it’s really different from my usual personal work and it’s so refreshing. I have to understand the author’s vision and depict a character which is not mine, so the work is really interesting for me to do.
Did you get to read the book before hand or were you given a basic outline and a very detailed idea of what the publishers wanted?
Usually the art director gives me a lot of details regarding the character they want to feature on the cover, with sometimes several ideas for the composition. So I unfortunately don’t read the books. But there are several novels I’ve illustrated that I would definitely love to read!
Can you tell us a bit about your creative process?
I usually begin with some very basic color sketches, just to set the mood and the composition. Then once I’m happy with the sketch I start the real painting. I refine everything, add details, play with the light, work the texture…it’s a long but fun process! 😉
What media do you work in?
I work with two different softwares : Photoshop & Painter. They are quite complementary, Painter brings me more “traditional” painting feeling and Photoshop is the best to work very small details.
Your work has a strong fantasy element to it – what inspires you?
Everything! I love reading science fiction and fantasy books, I watch a lot of movies so I guess all of this helps a lot for inspiration. I’m also very fond of history, so I love watching documentaries and when I’m in holidays I try to visit a lot of castles, old ruins, cathedrals. I always try to mix fantasy with classical painting style, and of course a lot of details.
For Scarlett they wanted a very strong character, beautiful, very natural but not tender and fragile, they also wanted her very mysterious, that’s why she’s hidden in some tree branches. I just love the result, especially her eyes, the art director asked for some kind of moon color for them, and I think it’s a really beautiful eye color (wish I had the same!)
How did you get into illustration?
Almost by accident actually, I wanted to work in the video game industry, so I went to a 3d school, but quickly changed my mind and decided to learn 2d instead of 3d. I started to learn how to use photoshop while painting my very first illustrations. I really felt in love with that software. The first contracts came quite quickly, I found a publisher for my art books, and well since then I never stopped.
All images curtsey of Mélanie Delon.
Please head on over to Mélanie’s website to see more of her work. A big thank you to Mélanie Delon for sharing some of her working process with us! I’ll be keeping an eye out for more of your book covers. Here’s hoping for a sequel to Scarlet for you to get working on soon!