CHECK THIS OUT!!
Landfall is the final installment . . . maybe . . . (I hope not) . . . WHOA! Hold on. Great news just revealed . . . ONE MORE STORY IS IN THE WORKS. Landfall is the third, but not the last, story about Star.
A FOURTH Guardian Herd book is in the works!
Unfortunately, to read Landfall, you must wait until next February 2, 2016. Eight more months before to you can get your hands on this beautiful cover.
How cruel, isn’t it, to reveal a cover you can’t touch for 8 months. Well, I cannot wait . . . must not wait . . . I shall not wai . . . okay, I will wait, but only because it is worth the wait and because the story comes with the cover. Ah, the story. What is Landfall all about?
“It has been many moons since Star received his starfire power. He has gone from being born a dud—unable to fly and shunned by the five herds of Anok, including his own—to becoming a strong yearling, ready to lead his own herd as an over-stallion. But now he will face his toughest challenge yet. Nightwing the Destroyer, Star’s eternal rival, is amassing an army to destroy him and all of Anok. The only way for Star to defeat him is to learn how to fight like a warrior—without using his starfire. For if he uses his power, even to heal, Nightwing will know where to find him.
“As the threat of war looms over Star’s head, he can’t help but wonder if the current peace among the united pegasi is strong enough to defeat the powerful Destroyer once and for all.
“With increasingly difficult challenges and brand-new areas of Anok to explore, Jennifer Lynn Alvarez will thrill readers with this epic and exhilarating third installment of The Guardian Herd series.”
But hold on—there is more.
The Guardian Herd Series cover has inspired readers all over the country. Here is some of the amazing art fans have created to show their love of the series.
As if this Guardian Herd cover and those kids’ pictures are not exciting enough, I am pleased as punch-ing herds to have a partial glimpse at Guardian Herd author Jennifer Lynn Alvarez’s interview with the cover artist, David McClellan. Most of you know about Jennifer. Here is a little about David:
David grew up near Portland, Oregon. He studied illustration at Brigham Young University in Utah. In addition to illustrating books, David works as an artist for Disney Interactive Studios, where they make the video game, Disney Infinity. David lives in Utah with his wife and four boys.
Interview and Art Tips with David McClellan
How did you become the cover artist for The Guardian Herd series?
The art director at Harper Collins had hired me before, but on a completely different kind of subject matter. As she considered me for this job, she asked if I was any good at painting animals and asked for some examples, and I told her that I was okay, but that I was probably weakest at horses. Of course, horses were exactly what she needed. And she agreed with me that my horses were not my best work, but for some reason she took a chance on me anyway. I immediately went and got some books on horse anatomy and started trying to figure it out. In hindsight, I think I was probably equally bad at drawing all animals. It’s just that horses are animals that humans are really familiar with, and have such specific proportions and musculature, that people can always tell when artists get them wrong. If you draw a dog wrong, you can just say it’s a different kind of dog.
Please describe your process, from conception to delivery, for creating a Guardian Herd book cover.
The art director gives me a description of what they want to see on the cover as far as characters and what kind of setting they want. Then I do several sketches to try and turn all those elements into a composition, taking into account where the title and author’s name will be. Those first sketches are usually so rough that no one else would understand them. Lately I have been doing those kinds of sketches on my phone. I then pick out a few that have the most potential and make more finished sketches of those ideas to send to the art director. She will then review the sketches with the editor and author and then either ask for changes or give the go ahead on the one that they like best. Then I will do color studies and work out the big picture before rendering any details.
I will have to do research and gather reference materials, in this case, lots of pictures of horses and wings. I have used toy horses for reference too since the photos usually don’t have the right kind of lighting. So sometimes I set up the toy horse with some makeshift paper wings to help me figure out what the shadows need to do. Then, from that point on, it’s just a lot of hours of painting time to refine and finish it off.
Your perspectives on the covers are dramatic! Can you give readers any tips on how to draw interesting pictures?
As far as perspective goes, on both of these Guardian Herd covers so far I have dropped the horizon line lower so it feels like you are looking up at Star, which makes him feel more heroic. There are so many potential answers to the question of how to make interesting pictures. Coming up with an interesting idea that is worth the time spent creating it is certainly crucial. Doing several rough sketches to get at the best possible idea helps. Making your image clear and legible helps. For example, it helps to have a clear focal point that is the most important thing in your picture and then have all the other elements complement rather than compete with that main focal point.
I believe that contrast is a big key to making things interesting. Our brains naturally look for contrast to make sense of things. And not just contrast of light and dark but just about everything you can think of has an opposite that you can use to set it apart and make it stand out. Of course, not everything should stand out. Only the important things. But if you want something to feel light, surround it with some dark. If you want something to feel big, put something small next to it. Try to keep variety in your shapes and not make everything too similar or monotonous.
Do you have any specific tips/advice on how to draw horses and feathers?
Well, start by getting the best reference materials you can get. You may not be able to see all that you need to understand in a photo of a horse, so a book on horse anatomy or a diagram of the muscles of the horse can be helpful. With feathers, it seems to be a little like drawing fingers or hair. If you are drawing a hand, it works best to mass in the fingers as a group first before trying to depict each individual finger. And with hair, it’s the same thing. You draw the mass of hair and then define only as many strands of hair as you need to in order to show that it’s hair and no more.
With the feathers, start with the shape of the wing as a solid mass with the structure of the bones underneath in mind, and then add the feather detail on top of that foundation. And remember that you don’t have to define each feather with equal importance. Pick a few main ones to be the ones that tell the story.
Can you recommend any software programs that budding artists might want to learn?
I really only work in Photoshop for my illustration work, although I sketch in the Sketchbook Pro app on my phone. I have messed around with the Brushes and Art Rage apps on my iPad. I think the kids probably know better than I do what the cool new painting apps are. I always recommend that kids get really good with real pencils and paints before getting into digital art because I think that foundation really helps.
Partial Interview Reprinted with permission from Jennifer Lynn Alvarez. For more information on The Guardian Herd Series please visit The Guardian Herd series website. To read the entire interview, gallop—or fly—on down to the tour dates and sites. (But don’t go yet, there is “One More Thing.”)
Now for the author of The Guardian Herd series. Just in case you have been living in a WIFI-less barn, here is a little about the author, Jennifer Lynn Alvarez
Jennifer Lynn Alvarez is the author of The Guardian Herd: Starfire, Stormbound, Landfall and The Pet Washer indie book series. She lives in Northern California with her husband, three children, and more than her fair share of pets, including horses.
Guardian Herd #3: LANDFALL releases in hardcover, ebook, and audio formats on 02/02/2016.
If you would like to see more of the cover reveal tour—who knows what else you might learn—check out these sites:
June 15th—Middle Grade Mafioso (running entire interview with David McClellan)
June 16th—Kid Lit Reviews
June 17th—This Kid Reviews Books (Interview with Audio Book Narrator)
June 18th—Beachbound Books (Interview with Guardian Herd Character)
June 19th—Doodles Doodles Everywhere (Artist Interview Debut in India)
June 20th—Jennifer Lynn Alvarez
ONE MORE THING.
Really, there is one more thing, and you really need to pay close attention to this part. To be sure you’ll hear, I’ll yell it out:
“HERE IS THE GIVEAWAY MENTIONED IN THE POST TITLE!”
To enter for a chance to WIN a Tote Bag Prize you MUST leave a comment (with your full name and email address IF your name does not link to a website or blog).
Here is the Tote:
Oh, wait . . . I forgot to open it up. Ooh, inside are the prizes!
A signed paperback of book #1 STARFIRE (reviewed HERE)
Character trading cards (sorry, no image, but Stormbound is reviewed HERE)
AND, to carry home all this swag, you get to keep the actual Guardian Herd Tote!
. . .
That is one good prize package.
Ready to win? Leave a comment.
(Winner will be announced in a future post.)
Stay tuned, a review of LANDFALL will be here as soon as, well, Ms. Alvarez sends a review copy.