This was a really interesting project as it challenged me to think outside the box, whilst still using known Sherlock references without making it too cliche. I had a lot of ideas for the cover, but ended up working on, and re-defining my very first idea. I also almost completed a second version, but the one I chose in the end represents my vision of Sherlock more accurately. Some obvious traits like the violin and the gun were necessary, but I really wanted to picture his superior mind thinking 1000 miles a minute, hence the neurons. The opium poppy is both beautiful and thematically relevant, so I chose to incorporate that as well. Finally I went with a cigarette rather than the classic pipe. I didn’t want to use the opium pipe as it is only relevant for a few stories, but he smokes cigarettes quite often, it seems. I decided to let the neurons run over in the grooves next to the spine, as there are no important details there, but it would look better if you could see the design continuing rather than stopping abruptly.
The inside illustrations were harder to choose as they are more straight forward. But I looked for the literary images and went with that.
Character development(the numerous ones of Reginald further down on the page):
Thumbnails and brainstorming:
(Mainly for the cover, but for some inside illustrations as well)
I wanted to illustrate how Sherlock’s mind works and did a few thumbnails for that. But then I also considered putting John Watson on the cover, as he is the one writing down the stories. I ended up running with the neurons in the brain in the end.
Developed some of the sketches further: (The one that went on to be the front cover, the second front cover idea with the wallpaper that got discarded, and an opium den inside illustration that I also scrapped.)
The two illustrations I ended up choosing were also products of a lot of trial and error. For “The Musgrave Ritual” I really struggled as I had made up my mind to illustrate the phrase:
“Something of his birth place seemed to cling to the man, and I never looked at his pale, keen face or the poise of his head without associating him with gray archways and mullioned windows and all the venerable wreckage of a feudal keep.” ~ The Musgrave Ritual -Arthur Conan Doyle
And I couldn’t let the idea go, but I kept trying to draw it over and over until I finally realised I had to alter my idea.
I decided to stick with the gray arches and the mullioned windows, but I made them more tangible, and instead tried to convey Reginald Musgrave’s snobbishness and the way he makes light of the ritual as a trivial treasure hunt.
The next problem was choosing colours and overlays:
The Musgrave Ritual
I ended up liking the colourful warm light of these pieces best. Even though it is a dark story, the sun is important to cast the shadows that lead them to the solution. Therefore I chose warm sunlight as the backdrop for the tree. Seeing as Sherlock mentions this was one of his earlier cases, and that Mr. Musgrave went to university with him, I chose to picture him quite young.
The final inside illustration was a bit of a panic piece. I was running out of time fast, but still wanted an image that didn’t directly describe the text, rather a larger theme of the story, and then I came up with this:
Irene Adler twirling the men around her little finger, more or less in total control. A strong female lead ahead of the crowd.
Due to the fact that this piece was started so late, I didn’t have time to fine-tune the idea, and the final piece is basically identical o the first sketch. Ironically, this was my favourite of the two inside illustrations in the end.
Alternative overlays: (Bottom right is the original colour scheme for my piece. It was tweaked before it became the final piece.)
The first cover-design I was working on, but abandoned to go back to my original idea:
I liked this one too, but in the end I preferred the more modern look of the second design.
Final piece, just the front design:
This has a slightly different colour than the final pieces as I had to try different colours and levels for the piece to make it look right. I still don’t know if my final pieces look exactly as I wanted them to, but it could have been avoided if I did the whole project on a different screen. I am still happy with the final pieces and how the colours turned out.
Final piece with bleed:
Final piece no bleed:
I had some trouble with the colours as my computer screen shows the colours very differently than other screens, so the greys ended up too “yellow” in my first attempts, I had to send the image to myself and open it on different screens to get the proper shade, but it worked out alright in the end. It is still too purple when I print it now, but it is not that I don’t know how to choose colours, it is my computer screen not displaying colours accurately; this makes working digitally very hard sometimes.
All final pieces together:
The Memoirs and Selected Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Musgrave Ritual
A Scandal in Bohemia