My Work in Progress

A sketchblog where I post a few of my scribbles from a variety of works-in-progress, usually from my rather random personal creativity outside of the daily grind. I occasionally, but not always, post the final artwork.


Dragon World in-progress

The ArtOrder group run by WoTC art director, Jon Schindehette, has a new challenge up that I couldn't resist developing some concepts for -- dragons!  But there's a little more to it than that:

Today, I’m going to listen to the call of the community. A dragon challenge has been the number one requested challenge for years. I’ve always begged off, because I haven’t been able to come up with a challenge that befitted them. I mean, I could have just done a challenge where I said, “draw a really cool dragon”, but that is kinda lame, and judging that type of challenge can be difficult. One person’s cool dragon is another persons cliche. So today's challenge is going to have a spin…

If you look around our mundane earth, you will see dragons worked into everyday culture all over the place. They can be found in tattoos, clothing, architecture, art, and so many other places…and yet, dragons do not actually exist in our world. When I look at so many of the worlds in the fantasy genre, I can see dragons flying around, but I don’t often see them reflected in the cultures. Why is that?
This months challenge takes an iconic figure in the fantasy genre, and adds a layer of complexity.

The Dragon – Create a cool dragon and show me that you know dragons. Show me the emotional resonance that comes with a dragon. Capture the “essence” of a dragon, and breath some life into it.

The World – Now, you’ve got to integrate it into the world. And by “integrate”, I’m talking about more than just dropping a dragon into a scene. That isn’t integration, that’s just an illustration. “Integration” is showing how the world lives with, reacts to, is affected by, and influenced by the dragon. Maybe dragons are common place in your world and they blend into everyday life. Maybe there is only one in the world, and the myth of it is reflected throughout the world. Maybe your dragon is simply symbolic and you have to show it’s influence and integration in novel ways.

The more innovative and interesting you make your execution will affect the judging...Also, do not feel you are limited to a fantasy setting. Feel free to go off the reservation and find your dragon in any genre, time, world, or setting. This could make for some interesting editorial or book cover ideas – where you step out of the known and normal."

End Quote

While I wish I could have had time to work up a few pages for the Dragon World comic idea I initially came up with...I just don't...client projects took priority. But, I have two other ideas I've chosen out of my initial rough sketches that I'm developing further. One fits squarely in the "Book Cover Adult" or BCA category.  And the other should fit in the "Book Cover Children's" or BCC category...something that might one day be the cover for a story under consideration in "The Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy"....gotta dream big and work hard! :)

In any case, this sketch was the final rough version that I have since been developing further for the BCA category...and I'll post progress images for that in a later post:

Read more about the Dragon World ArtOrder Challenge, categories, rules and submission requirements as well as other art in progress by going to the AO site, here:


The Cover Reveal

The mention of “cover reveal” is often an exciting time for writers, illustrators or readers – we’re offered a chance to celebrate with the author; whether it’s their first book as a published writer or the next book of an established series or the new stand-alone novel by a favorite story teller. It’s also an opportunity to catch a glimpse of an artist’s interpretation of a favorite character or characters, maybe in an exciting moment captured in the art that hints at a page-turning scene in the story, or a designer’s motif that symbolizes a key element carried throughout.

And then, think about how many times you've been in a discussion about a new book or maybe even an old favorite book and said, “I can’t remember the title or the author, but it’s the book with the picture of “(Fill-in-the-Blank)” on the eye-catching cover?”

My question for discussion of this post is –-

Why aren’t the illustrators and designers also credited in the “cover reveal” posts, especially when that reveal is done by the author, publisher or reviewer?

We know that the writer has invested time and effort in creating a wonderful story to share with their readers. The cover artists and designers who created the cover for the book have also invested their time and creativity to package that story in an engaging way that ideally shares the writer’s vision of the story…and will also help sell the book to its target audience.

And yet a majority of those articles whether on blogs, Facebook, Tmblr, Twitter and forum discussion threads don’t credit the artist, illustrator and/or designers that created that beautiful, intriguing, hopefully eye-catching cover that grabs the potential buyer to check out the book.

Why not?

Here's an example of one of the few “cover reveal” posts I found that actually does credit the artist/designer in an excellent fashion, mentioning author, publisher and cover designer: 

Quote: Today I have the cover for WEATHER WITCH by Shannon Delaney!! It’s hitting shelves this summer, June 25, 2013 from St. Martin’s Griffin! And it’s STEAMPUNK!!! YAY!

Here’s what Shannon had to say about the cover:
“This cover is another example of the lovely work of designer Ervin Serrano of St. Martin’s Press. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Ervin do beautiful covers throughout the course of the 13 to Life series and was excited to know I get to keep him for this steampunk trilogy! He’s wonderful to work with and great at bringing my vision to the public!”  End quote.

The artist, whether acting as illustrator or designer (or maybe both), can also be a partner for the author and publisher that broadens their reach to more potential readers of the book, increasing traffic to the “cover reveal” posts for reviewers and authors, as well as garnering interest from genre fans who appreciate the art whether it’s on a book cover, a card, or poster print; and, in fact, those fans might consider reading or recommending the book themselves because it was done by an artist as well as author they admire or follow.

From an interview by Joseph Mallozzi on July 25, 2008 with award winning artist/illustrator/designer John Picacio discussing cover art and design credit:

Do you think cover art is as appreciated as it should be?

“I think that depends on who you want to have appreciate it, and what you want it appreciated for. I think it’s maybe appreciated more than ever by genre collectors and fans. There’s been a growing number of cyber-discussions about cover art in recent months, and that’s a very good thing. I hope readers and professionals continue to exchange views about it because that will only raise the bar for the better.

On the publishing side, there was a time when cover illustrators weren’t even CREDITED with their work, which is absurd.

Today, cover illustrators generally are at least credited for their work, whereas I find that a lot of the pre-90’s paperbacks and novels sometimes didn’t print the credit, and that was especially the case with pre-1970’s books.

I think knowing who created the art helps foster an appreciation (and a marketplace) for the art itself in professional sf/fantasy work.”

So why is it so difficult to credit the artists, designers and illustrators for these book covers...whether it’s for children’s MG books, YA books, sf/fantasy or some other genre?

When the article by The Atlantic Wire 25 OF THE MOST WONDERFUL BOOK COVERS OF THE YEAR  was posted, many of the “most wonderful book covers” were not credited with the artists, illustrators or designers.   

Surprisingly so, when the title of the article states clearly and quite directly that it is all about the designs – not the stories, not the authors.

That being said, the article was later updated that same day with all of the proper credits not only because the information was easily available, but also because many of the commentors of the article pointed that out:

“… If the whole point of the article is to highlight visual design, it seems incongruous for the accompanied information to consist entirely of the author, title, and plot summary. I'd love to see the names of the designers, illustrators, artists, and photographers, with links to their sites!“

And so did an open letter by artist/illustrator/designer Marc Scheff, that was signed by various illustrators (myself included), and artists, art directors, designers and fans from the Facebook community:

"Your recent article, titled, "25 of the Most Wonderful Book Covers of the Year," celebrates the work of designers, artists, and illustrators (in some cases, all three) yet you and Jen failed to credit a single one of the image creators, save the ones whose names were actually printed on the cover. This is not only poor journalistic practice, it is probably a licensing breach to the owner of the image, the artist.

In my own research on the books you list (see below), I found authors who featured the book covers with great fanfare on their own site, with no mention of the artist. Frankly, I just don't understand how that even makes sense, never mind that it is not allowed. If you credit the artist, the artist will likely promote your piece, bringing more eyes and subscribers to your work. By crediting them, you harness the power of their social networks, and you missed out on that online traffic by a factor of 25….”

So as part of your next exciting event called the COVER REVEAL, why not in the future include credit for the illustrators and designers responsible? 

Cover image and design by me, Tanja Wooten.

Read more of the WEATHER WITCH cover reveal post here:

Read more of John’s interview here:


Read the open letter addressed to The Atlantic Wire by Marc Scheff, here:


Home on the Range

Early sketch for a middle grade sci-fi story.  This is a crop of the larger illustration, focusing on the main character here.  The final illustration is in-progress.