Tag Archives: Leo DeBruyn

Meet My Illustrator — Leo DeBruyn

My illustrator, Leo DeBruyn has decided to formally start offering illustration and cover design services for sale.  You can take a look at his website here.  As well as showing off some of the art he’s done for me, I’ve interviewed him today.  I have to say, I’ve been thrilled with his art for “A School for Villains” and I’m saving up so he can illustrate book 2 for me as well.

What’s the best part of what you do?

My favorite part of the illustration process is probably the early composition stage, where I pick out the colors and shapes, define the negative space, and adjust the framing of the image. If I can make it exciting and interesting at that point, I know that the final image will be good. Later, changes will be more costly, but at the start I can try all sorts of different things. A close runner up is when I’m adding the details at the end. At that point, I already like the image and I’m just making it better. I am a bit of a perfectionist, so I will keep tweaking until I am satisfied.

What’s your favorite style of illustration? Which mediums do you prefer?

I like variety, but generally gravitate toward colorful images that are believable but not ultra-realistic. I want them to have charm and be visually interesting.

Overall, I prefer digital illustration because of the freedom that it gives me and the time it saves. These days, everything ends up digital, so it saves a few steps if you start out that way. The power of layers lets me experiment and easily mask things off– saving a ton of time. And of course, undo works better than any eraser yet invented.

When I am not working digitally, my favorite medium is crayons on paper. I like the brightness of the colors, and the versatility. You can sharpen them down to a fine point or put them on their side and fill in a space. And they are cheap, so you can have buckets of them and just play around. If you apply them in layers, you can get a very smooth and brilliant layer of wax that has a wonderful sense of depth and radiance to it. And you can also mix them with wax-based colored pencils if you need more detail. Plus, it’s kind of a kick to see people’s reaction when you take materials most people associate with children and do something that impresses them.

What’s your favorite thing to draw?

As a kid, I preferred animals. In art school, I went to the zoo a lot, and some of my favorite drawings were of penguins and bears, using a Japanese brush that allowed me to capture the entire animal with a couple of brush strokes. Since animals move around a lot, it was a great way to capture them quickly before they changed poses. I also like drawing people and interesting architecture, especially castles and spacecraft. Dragons and armor are always fun, too.

Who are some illustrators you admire or have inspired your work?

I love the work of many illustrators. Some of them have influenced how I draw, others just inspire me and fire up my imagination. My mother is an illustrator and definitely had a large impact on my style. Other illustrators that I enjoy include Maurice Sendak, Dr. Seuss, Leo and Diane Dillon, Quentin Blake, James Marshall, and William Steig. There are so many more, but I’m not going to turn this into an epic list.

For your personal work, where do you find inspiration?

Stories inspire me. That’s really what illustration is all about. A story comes to life in an illustration. I like to read a lot, and I have even done illustrations of my own life story in various diaries and journals over the years.

The human form also inspires me. What is amazing about it is that human beings love images of people, but they are really hard to get right because we have an innate understanding of the human form that makes us notice even tiny details that are wrong. It also subtly informs our idea of beauty and ugliness in everything, even inanimate objects. I have found the human body to be both inspiring and challenging. Drawing it makes me into a better artist every time, even if my next piece of work has no people in it.

Elaborate on your education, experience and skills.

I grew up drawing and painting in a very creative home. My mother is an artist and my siblings and I spent a lot of time creating art with her as children. When I grew up, I went to art school and studied computer animation. That is what really got me going with digital illustration. But I also spent a fair amount of time working with traditional media. Some other mediums that I enjoy are acrylic paint, wood and linoleum block prints, paper cutting and folding, and sculpting in clay, wire, and paper.

While I have produced a lot of art over the years, I haven’t done a lot of commercial illustration because I’ve been so busy designing video games for the last decade. I am trying to focus more on my art now because I really enjoy it and want to live a more balanced creative life.

For digital art, what programs do you use?

I use Photoshop, GIMP, Inkscape, Flash, Blender… it all depends on what I’m making and where I happen to be at the moment. I work in both vector and raster images, depending on the style and needs of the project.

What services do you offer and what are your rates? What are looking for in a project?

Currently I’m offering cover creation services. This can range from a simple layout and graphic design for your e-book cover using stock photos, to a full blown print-resolution cover with a custom illustration. Since I’m relatively new to this, and I’d like to work with up and coming authors, I am trying to keep my rates reasonable. All of my work is entirely custom (I don’t use templates), so your price will depend on what your needs are.

For example, an e-book cover with your name and title on it in a nice-looking font and color scheme, with a photo image, might be around $50, plus whatever the photo costs to license. If you have your own photo, or want me to find you a free royalty-free image, then there’d be no extra charge for the picture.

On the other end of the spectrum, a print-resolution cover with all the same layout and typography, as well as a highly detailed custom digital illustration containing an iconic scene or image from your book may cost you $400, depending on how detailed of an image you want. I can also do it in a different medium if you prefer. Really like woodblock prints? How about a photo of an origami bird floating on the water? Just let me know what you’re thinking and I’ll give you a quote.

I’d also like to point out that while I enjoy being creative, my ultimate goal with illustration is to please my client. I don’t mind doing an image in a particular style that you really like. If there’s another image out there that you like the look of and you want something similar, send a link to me and I’ll see what I can do.

Tell us about your non-illustration projects. What else do you enjoy doing?

I’m a game designer, so I spend a lot of time making video games. Some of this is basically programming, but sometimes it involves creating art. Just in the last few weeks I started playing around with something called

NeoTextureEdit to make procedural images of wood and stone surfaces for a game. It’s almost a game in and of itself tweaking knobs and typing numbers to create art.

I also enjoy writing. I’m hoping to get some of my own stories published soon.

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Cover for “A School for Villains”

I just got my cover back from my artist (the very talented Leo DeBruyn) for “A School for Villains”.  The book is in production and will be released on October first.  I’m really excited about this!

The cover captures the story perfectly, a strong satirical novel with plenty of humor and yet a villain (or is it hero?) you can root for.  In tone, it’s a bit like “Despicable Me” or “Megamind” with a Harry Potter type school setting.

Here’s the blurb:

Thirteen-year-old Danny is astounded when his father decides to send him to Dark Lord Academy to learn to be a villain. Pa claims it will make him stand out and fulfill his own lost childhood dreams. Being evil doesn’t appeal to Danny, but he’s always been a good and obedient son, so he goes.

Dark Lord Academy’s not just unappealing, it’s downright terrible. His advisor dyes Danny’s blond hair black and changes his name to the unpronounceable Zxygrth. He can’t get the hang of maniacal laughter, his second-in-command servant is a puke-colored monkey, and the cafeteria lady enjoys serving stewed cockroaches or fried bat wings. A run in with a hero results in hate mail and he gets caught up in a rivalry with the school bully.  The only way for Danny to stay alive is to find his inner villain.

Read Chapter one