For this project, I was working from an old concept (left) that I wanted to revamp. I knew that I wanted to keep the sketchy, organic aesthetic, but I also wanted a cleaner, more contemporary feel for the overall design. I was set on keeping the silhouette in the background, since magpies are the inspiration for the title and protagonist. I chose a dark, simple color palette of pale greys, navy blue, and black, which echo a magpie's coloring.
I started with a few thumbnail sketches and jotted down notes. This gave me a better idea of the different elements I would need to create. For the framing on the back panel, I wanted something that incorporated the bird theme without being overwhelming, so I drew on the linear aspects of Art Nouveau design, and kept the details minimal.
From there I created a pair of magpie illustrations - one done with a brush pen on paper, which would be used for the front and back panels of the book jacket; and a stylized version that would be embossed on the hardcover. The idea is that readers would recognize the stylized magpie as the protagonist's tattoo.
For the central figure of the protagonist, I zoomed out and went with a solid silhouette. Modern clothes paired with dual swords help establish the genre - YA urban fantasy. The silhouette is slightly asymmetrical but balanced, its lines forming a strong pyramid shape that lead the eye to the title emblazoned across the figure's chest.