Thursday, September 5, 2013

Les Miserables Redesign

Recently I finished up a project for 3 interior illustrations and a cover dust jacket redesign of the classic novel, Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo. Coming from a theatre major background (and having been in the show twice) this story (and the incredible score) is near and dear to my heart.

In particular, I wanted to share some process shots of the cover, which ended up being my favourite piece in the series. I truly enjoyed working in the format of a dust jacket - the unfolded, unwrapped piece gives a very wide composition, which is a fun challenge to design! I wanted something that would be cohesive when spread out as a whole image, but something that also worked as a powerful standalone image for the cover itself, if you were to see it sitting on a bookshelf.

In this piece, Jean Valjean is symbolically being lifted up from a position of slavery and servitude, to his high-status role of "Monsieur Mayor". Moreover, he undergoes a transformation of being a low-life to being an incredibly moral, grateful and kind man, which is really what the center of the story of Les Miserables is about.

1. Final sketch - the birds, rats and silhouettes of the figures were drawn separately and pieces together over the main sketch in Photoshop.
2. Background colour (usually involving comps and colour tests), and the main colour test for the Arc de Triomphe.
3. Laying in soft gradients and layers of clouds. I knew I wanted a feeling of airy translucency, so I created each cloud on a separate layer and played with the lightness of the colour and opacity.
4. Darkened the Arc for impact, filled the houses with flat colour, and added the ground texture (a stock photo).

5. Using more subtle gradients to create lighting and volume, as well as blocking in characters with flat colour.
6. Colourizing all lines, giving added interest and translucency in some areas.
7. Added in watercolour textures I had created and scanned into the clouds, also some ink textures into the houses, and flat darker details on the houses. I hand-drew the sculptures on the face of the Arc de Triomphe, scanned them in separately, and laid them in.
8. Finally, type is added, publisher's mark, spine, synopsis, and an ISBN barcode.

 And here's how it looks wrapped on the actual book!

Thanks for checking out my process - this was a really fun project to take on.

If you'd like to see a larger version of the finished image and more photos, please jump over to! I also have included some of the interior illustrations there. 

(And don't forgot that there is a 20% OFF sale going on in my shop until September 9th! Use coupon code HAPPYFALL. Pop on over here!)


  1. Wow this is really cool! I love this book/movie/musical and I really love your book cover! Thanks for sharing your thought process!

  2. Awesome. Just awesome. I especially love the first 4 raw images showcasing the process from the beginning. You did a really wonderful job! It looks great actually on the book as well. Beautiful.


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