Sunday, December 22, 2013

Pope Francis Book Cover for Loyola Press


Loyola Press


A cover illustration of the first Jesuit pope for the book, Pope Francis, by Chris Lowney.


Create a thoughtful depiction of a pensive and confident leader, in Pope Francis, reflecting a man whose uniquely humble life choices have prepared him for the role of 21st century leader of Catholicism -- a personal story that earned him TIME Magazine's "Person of the Year."


I am very happy to announce my partnership with Paulette Rhyne of Rhyne Represents, who is now my worldwide illustration representative. I am pleased to be part of her team of talented artists.

Loyola Press contacted us about this assignment, based on a charcoal portrait in my portfolio. They loved the painterly style and the subject's pensive expression. They felt this would be the perfect look for their upcoming book on Pope Francis.


My client forwarded me some reference of the pope. In conjunction with my own research, I gathered enough to give me confidence in creating a pensive likeness that fit into an interesting composition and the constraints of the cover design.

One of the keys to the portfolio image they like is the sense of Rembrandt light, which is a lighting pattern, made popular by Dutch painter, Rembrandt, who used it in many of his portraits. It is characterized by half the subject's face in light and half in shadow, except for an upside down triangle of light under the eye on the shadow side. It is created when the shadow of the nose connects with the shadow of the cheek. It is a good go-to lighting pattern in painting and photography, because it usually creates pleasing and flattering results for the subject, and an interesting visual for the artist.

I used my knowledge of the facial structure and my practice in photography to fake in a bit more pronounced Rembrandt lighting on our papal subject for two preliminary sketch options.


Another good go-to look is the "head turn." It gives the viewer a feeling of connection with the subject, because he or she appears to be turning to give their full attention to us, the viewer.

The head turn version was my art director's choice. Off to the final charcoal on paper art, I proceeded.

Here is the final cover, which you can purchase for your own.

Thank you to my rep, Paulette, and the kind folks at Loyola Press for a wonderful assignment.

Allan Burch is an award-winning illustrator and portrait artist, providing solutions for editorial, book, advertising, and institutional projects.
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