Utahraptor, William Stout, and one incredible convention sketch

A cool story about dinosaurs, that’s all… and about one of the greatest dinosaur artists of all time. I’ve told it before, but that was a while ago. 🙂 
I was incredibly fortunate to get a Utahraptor sketch from William Stout at a convention several years ago. I caught him before the dealers room opened (being a guest of the convention myself), and he did it for free — I was seriously fangirling on him, telling him that the very first book I ever bought with my own money was “Dinosaurs”, and so forth — and I didn’t find out until later that it was the equivalent of a $150 convention sketch… or so I’ve been told. In any case, it’s amazing and I will treasure it always.

William Stout Sketch MEDIUM

Banner Art: A 2’x4′ vinyl sign for Keycon 36

Since I’m splitting an 8′ dealer table in the Keycon 36 Marketplace with a fellow artist, I plan to have a 2’x4′ vinyl sign printed to hang over the table front on my side. This is the latest version, based on a photo taken by Kevin Grummett at my November 10th book signing.

I welcome any thoughts or pointers, since this isn’t usually the kind of design work I do. 🙂

Lauren Alder 2s4 Keycon banner WHITE backgrd fade NEW TEXT proof

FB group question: “Thinking about working with a cover designer?”

On the “Writers Helping Writers” FB group, Susan Uttendorfsky (of www.adirondackediting.com) offers the following excellent advice:

Thinking about working with a cover designer?

The old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” just isn’t true, it seems! A lot of people do review a cover first before looking at the back-cover blurb or the reviews. If you decide to hire a cover artist or designer, there are some things you should think about (and ask) beforehand:

• Approaching a designer with a vague idea like “a girl in a swing” will end up costing you a lot of money in revisions if you already have a certain idea in mind. Being explicitly detailed will work out better: “A blonde, long-haired woman, 35yo, in an old-fashioned rope swing attached to an elm tree. She wears a white, billowy dress that streams out behind her as she reaches the apex. It’s early autumn and she’s alone. There’s fog in the background.”

• Your title needs to be set in stone. Making changes/tweaks after the first design draft is complete may affect more than you realize!

• Be sure you understand all of the charges and the process. How many revisions are included in the original price? What is included, and what will cost extra?

• While you have an idea of what your cover *should* look like, you’re paying for the designer’s professional expertise. So if you don’t have any preconceived/prearranged ideas, then let the designer have free rein! They’ll be able to show you their best ideas.

If you’ve hired a cover designer, how did things work out for you? What would you do differently next time?

In reply, I wrote:

“If you give the designer free rein, it might be a good idea to ask for what are called “comp sketches”, which are rough layouts where the designer can show you several potential ideas, quickly drawn. You can either work the cost for the comp sketches into your overall price, or pay for them separately. Even if you have one idea that you’ve fixed upon and agreed on with the artist, it’s good insurance to see a comp sketch of that as well before the artist proceeds with the finished piece. Personally, as a commercial artist myself I would ask for a colour comp (where the colours are roughed in as well).

“For example, here’s the advanced colour comp sketch I created for the (ultimately unused) cover of my own novel. It’s clearly not finished, but there’s enough there that you can get a good feeling for how the final will likely turn out.”

Below is the rough comp sketch I created for an unused cover for “The Codex of Desire”:


And the colour comp stage you might typically see after you’d approved the black and white rough comp sketch:


Once this type of colour comp is approved, the artist generally moves on to the final painting phase, since this gives a pretty good idea of what the cover will ultimately look like. 🙂 

The day I met Willaim Stout, in person! Oh, how I fangirled! (And got a tremendous surprise into the bargain.)

Several years ago, when my husband and I were guests at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2), William Stout was there also and I was fortunate enough to be able to speak with him at his booth on the Friday afternoon of the convention, before the fans started pouring in. I gushed a LOT, I’m afraid, telling him that the very first book I ever bought with my own money was his own “Dinosaurs” — and when I bought a copy of his newest book from him right then and there, he spontaneously created the sketch below, at no additional charge. (In retrospect, his generosity boggles my mind!)
But that wasn’t all! I fangirled over the sketch too, and declared that I’d simply HAVE to bring my husband, comic book artist George Freeman, over to meet Mr. Stout before the convention closed. At which point Mr. Stout looked at me keenly and replied: “George Freeman’s here? I wish I’d known — i would have brought along my copies of “Captain Canuck” for him to sign!”

Or at least, that’s how I remember it now. 🙂 At any rate, George and Mr. Stout did meet toward the end of the convention and had a nice conversation, and I have this beautiful sketch to treasure always.

William Stout Sketch MEDIUM