Friday, September 10, 2010

Cover Illustration for KNOW #29 - The Science Magazine for Curious Kids

A few months ago, I was contacted by the publisher of two children's science magazines, YES Mag and KNOW, to see if I was interested/available to do some regular cartoon illustration work for their "Home Lab" features (science experiments that kids can do at home). Needless to say, I was extremely flattered when, shortly after accepting their offer and beginning work, the editor of KNOW asked if I'd also like to illustrate the cover for one of their up-coming issues. The theme of the issue would be "Shapes & Patterns."

After some initial brainstorming and thumbnail sketching, the editorial team expressed an interest in having a herd of zebras with one zebra standing out from the crowd. Since zebras are typically black & white creatures, it was agreed that colour would be the best way to do this.

Well, Issue #29 (Sept/Oct 2010) is hitting magazine shelves now at bookstores and newsstands, so be on the lookout for this cool equid ... (click to enlarge!)

KNOW #29 - The Science Magazine for Curious Kids - Zebra Cover Illustration by Mike Cope

For those who enjoy seeing some of the creation steps behind a cartoon illustration, here are a few selections from the evolution process this particular design undertook ...

1) A very quick thumbnail sketch drawn in Adobe Photoshop on a KNOW cover template.

KNOW #29 - Zebra Cover - Thumbnail Sketch

2) Initial colour tests applied to thumbnail sketch.

KNOW #29 - Zebra Cover - Thumbnail Colour Tests

3) Rough pencil sketch drawn on 11" x 14" sheet of Strathmore Bristol.

KNOW #29 - Zebra Cover - Rough Pencil Sketch

4) Finished art inked with dip pens and brushes, scanned and coloured in Adobe Photoshop.

KNOW #29 - Zebra Cover - Finished Art Preview

6) A few other colour tests applied to finished illustration.

KNOW #29 - Zebra Cover - Finished Art Colour Tests

I'll post some samples of the "Home Lab" cartoon illustrations soon, but in the meantime, you can also find them on the YES Mag and KNOW websites.

Stay TOONed!

- Mike Cope


  1. Great post Mike! I love seeing the process.

  2. Thanks, David! This is just a highlight of the process images specifically related to the final cover. There were a few other zebra designs with the main character doing some funny poses, as well as other brainstorm thumbnails that were non-zebra, but related to the "shapes & patterns" theme.

    Overall, the goal was getting my client something they were happy with.