Let's get started, shall we?
First it starts with the layout. I did a few layouts for this cover, mostly because we weren't really sure where we wanted to go with it. (By we, I mean Mike Marts and Katie Kubert, the amazing Batman editing teams, as well as John Layman and Myself). I can't show the other layouts just yet because they contain story details, but hopefully Ill update this down the line with the first few.
This was the layout we began to lean towards. The villain of the next arc is the classic villain, The Wrath. The Wrath is sort of an "anti-Batman". He's the opposite of Batman in many ways. He leans towards military weaponry and armor and has all sorts of neat gadgets.
I guess before I even did this layout, I did some designs for the Wrath.
We decided very quickly that we needed to change the design for this character and give him a more modern look. If you take a look at the original Wrath look, it's very different than what I designed. Personally, I couldn't take the design seriously, and while it may have worked in the 80's, I would have hated to have to draw such a cheesy looking character. I petitioned to redesign this guy and do something cool with him.
The idea was that even in appearance, he's sort of the opposite of Batman. Batman is essentially an organic, naked body with some lines drawn on it to show clothing. While Batman is organic and round in shape, Wrath is hard edges and square armor parts over his body.
The helmet was the only thing that really changed from the original design sketch seen above.
The helmet is based on the shape of a goat skull. I changed the eyes from square shapes to round after we decided the look was too close to Iron Man's eyes. In the end, I think the round eyes give a more "evil" look.
I also liked the idea of some pieces being camouflaged and thought it would add a cool feel to the character.
UPDATE: I was reading through some comments on the newsarama reveal and people were questioning why I used oranges especially in the camo. The original Wrath was orange and purple in color so I wanted to play with that scheme. I decided to focus on Orange because of the way it compliments the grey and blue of Batman. I knew right off the bat that I didn't want the Wrath to be totally grey in color, even though Urban camo is grey, because it would have cancelled itself out when standing by Batman. I want these issues featuring the Wrath to focus on a grey, blue and orange color template throughout the arc. In the end, the orange allows the Wrath to pop a bit more off the page, especially when he's side by side with Batman.
You'll also notice I kept the original design aspects of the "W" on the head and chest. But they are hidden. Can you spot them?
Back to the Layout. Mark Chiarello, DC's artistic director, saw the layout and suggested I use more jagged lines instead of straight vertical lines. I took this idea a bit further, we'll see that later though.
Now because this cover was going to be essentially 2 characters put together, I decided the smartest way to do this was to draw 2 separate drawings and then splice the two together.
So after I penciled the two covers, I scanned them and inked them up digitally.
Then came the splicing.
I first started with this one, but after showing it to my brother, we decided that there were too many splits. I also thought it would be cool if the splits, or tears, fanned out from the bottom to give it a different look.
In the end, this is what the final inks looked like for the cover. I added the camo in photoshop by placing the camo texture on a layer below. I'm glad I chose to draw 2 separate drawings or else I would have drawn the two characters together in one shot like the first splice and wouldn't have been happy with it or had the ease to make easy changes. Digital art is great for pieces like this!
In the end, the cover turned out pretty swell in my own humble opinion. Emilio killed it and added all sorts of awesome little details in the color stage. Great job by him!
So I hope you enjoyed this little look into this cover. It had a bunch of stages but I hope you enjoyed the inside look and the final outcome. I'm Looking forward for people to check out issue 22 and some of the designs and things we've done for this book.
PS: The original pencils for this cover are for sale. I'm offering the both for a special price as well as some high quality prints of both the individual characters inked as well as the digital inks of the final spliced together cover. Contact me if interested!