Category Archives: Illustration

“Airwoman” Cover Illustration/Design and Marketing Images

"Airwoman," Book cover and marketing images by Adam Townsend. Fantasy novel by Zara Quentin.
“Airwoman,” Book cover and marketing images by Adam Townsend. Fantasy novel by Zara Quentin.

I just finished an illustration/cover design assignment this week for Australian fantasy author Zara Quentin‘s debut novel “Airwoman.”

I got to read it early as her illustrator, and it was a super fun read! This will be the first in a series, so I’m already excited for the next installment.

To create this image, I used a combination of traditional and digital media. I used a public domain sunset photo and took the mountains from a different public domain photo and rendered each as vectors in Adobe Illustrator.

Then, once Zara approved the concept, I drew the figure and painted her with acrylic and ink on illustration board.

Then, I photographed the painting and cut her out in Photoshop, then rendered her as a vector graphic as well. The rendering process made the painting look a little bit more like a photo and the photo portion look a little more like a painting, so the piece works together harmoniously.

A Murder is Announced Commission

murder-4x6-full-bleed-cardJust finished this poster for my friend’s theater production in Orange County. I think it has a cool, retro vibe.

It’s set up like an old 4-color press, but of course there are more than 4 colors. I just wanted to evoke the style.

Also, though it was overused in the mid- to late 1990s, there’s nothing better for a murder mystery than vintage typewriter font.

New children’s book project

Manatee tells his teacher about his favorite band in this art marker illustration for a children's book by Gary Schwind. By Adam Maxwell Townsend
Manatee tells his teacher about his favorite band in this art marker illustration for a children’s book by Gary Schwind. By Adam Maxwell Townsend

I’m excited to be working on a preliminary set of illustrations for a children’s book written by Southern California author Gary Schwind.

I can’t reveal all the details, but Gary agreed to let me share a few illustrations on my website here. Some are complete, some I may decide to re-do. Not sure yet, but I’ll have to take a look at the completed work to see which ones need re-done.

The story is about a young manatee who is a super fan of a rock band, and by the end (spoiler alert) he actually gets to meet them and get autographs.

This is the first project I’ve done with a new medium: art markers. These are the same kind used in many graphic novels and comic books, and the colors are rich and solid.

I bought a set for $100 about a year ago and have been fiddling with them off and on, but this is the first project I’ve worked on where I feel comfortable using them. One advantage is that you can turn out finished work really quickly, which is why high-production illustrators like comics artists use them.

Book Design for ‘Soundcheck’

Soundcheck by Jennifer Blanchard; cover design by Adam Maxwell Townsend
Soundcheck by Jennifer Blanchard; cover design by Adam Maxwell Townsend

My good friend and client Jennifer Blanchard, who is an author and writing coach, commissoned a cover design and illustration from yours truly. The following is a description of her debut novel “Soundcheck” as it appears on the bookcover and on her website:

As a rising star in the music industry, Mandy Simon seems to have it all: a killer knack for spotting talent, a promotion on the horizon, and a secret office romance with Miles Anderson, the marketing director at her company.

But her troubled past causes Mandy to break things off with him. When the decision backfires, she comes up against an ultimatum that puts her dream job at risk. And she finds herself fighting for success–and love–in ways she never imagined.

You can purchase the ebook or a paperback editon from Amazon; please do! I read the draft and it looks great. Waiting for my copy in the mail so I can read the final edition with my cover and all.

In the meantime, you can check out more of my illustration and design work here.

San Clemente Jr. Women to Auction Townsend Original

16"X20" Acrylic on Illustration board. By Adam Maxwell Townsend.
16″X20″ Acrylic on Illustration board. By Adam Maxwell Townsend.

I’ve donated a painting “Jazz #4” to the San Clemente Junior Woman’s Club to help them raise money for an art scholarship at their March Fire and Ice charity gala event.

(Buy tickets here.)

The money raised will go to help pay for art scholarships for kids at San Clemente High School.

The event is at Bella Collina Towne & Golf Club, San Clemente, 200 Avenida La Pata, San Clemente, California 92673, from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, March 21.

If you come, you’ll see me there — I’ve been recruited to snap photos pro-bono for the club’s website and archives.

For sale at the Holiday RAWk 2014 show…

Some of Adam Maxwell Townsend's paintings, pastels and prints for sale at the 2014 Holidsay RAWk show.
Some of Adam Maxwell Townsend’s paintings, pastels and prints for sale at the 2014 Holidsay RAWk show.

I’m getting all my materials prepared for the Holiday RAWk 2014 art show in Costa Mesa Dec. 14; a great chance to clear out my inventory in preparation for making more intricate and exciting paintings and illustrations.

I’m going to have 600 square feet of wall space, and I’m going to use every last bit to display my artwork and hopefully sell some; it’s been stacking up in my garage and it’s itching to be out in the world.

Most exciting to me are the 10 prints of my painting “Pirate Story” I’ll have for sale. This is one of my most popular works (the original is already sold) and it has been featured in FIND art magazine and gallery. The prints are all full-sized 15”X20” with an additional border, signed and numbered. These are the first 10 of a limited run of 250, and one of them can be yours for $125.

Also available at the show are some 5”x7” greeting/notecards I had printed up featuring my “Day” and “Night” nature illustrations featuring West Coast wildlife. For only $5 a piece, these are great as original Christmas cards, or just to have handy for birthdays or thank-you notes.

I’ve also raided my stash of original pastel nudes, five of which I’ll have on sale with prices ranging from $75 to $125.

My original work will be a little pricier; I spent dozens of hours on each painting and illustration and, well, you’re gonna pay for quality.  For example, “Jazz #5” and “Harem Painting” I’ll be selling for $2,500 and $2,000, respectively.

The “Pursuits of Man” pair are on sale for $1,000 each, or $1,800 for both (they kind of go together — shouldn’t be seperated.)

Remember, don’t forget to visit my profile on the RAW art collective website and purchase your ticket for $15 – buy it here.

See all the other artists, photographers, musicians and fashion designers I’ll be showing with here.


This image depicts chefs hard at work in a restaurant kitchen. Mixed media on illustration board.
This image depicts chefs hard at work in a restaurant kitchen. Mixed media on illustration board.

This is an illustration I did for fun after shooting a photo feature for the Orange County Register.

The feature was a 2010 profile of a new chef hired at The Cellar fine dining restaurant in Fullerton California.

I like to depict skilled professionals hard at work in their hands-on tasks. Being somewhat of a foodie myself, this illustration was a natural fit.

Here’s my Flickr slideshow of the photos I took for my feature and which I used to research this illustration:

Here’s a slideshow showing the steps in the process I used to create “Cooking at the Cellar”

Animals Doing People Stuff

Raccoon Air Traffic Control
Raccoon Air Traffic Control


I’ve always found animals doing people things to be super hilarious. I’ve taken it a step farther than children’s books usually do to have apes and elephants and raccoons doing pretty arbitrary stuff.

Ape Surgeon
Ape Surgeon

I like this idea. If you take all those Disney and Pixar movies and have them take the animals as people metaphor to its logical conclusion, you get Sammy Squirrel the structural engineer or Farrah the Phlebotomist Finch.

Elephant Playing the Piano
Elephant Playing the Piano

Sometimes the effect is just amusing – like a clever joke with raccoons and songbirds.

Other images, like “Ape Surgeon” are hilarious, but really unsettling and pose deeper questions about how much control we really have over the world and our own mortality. (My assertion is “not a ton,” in case you misread that message.)

For more animals doing human stuff, see my illustration “Freedom from Want.”


I did this riff on Norman Rockwell’s classic “Freedom From Want” illustration — part of his “Four Freedoms” series. The joke is self explanatory. The media is ink and colored pencil on paper.

I did this illustration a few days before Thanksgiving in 2012. I pattered it after Norman Rockwell’s “Freedom from Want” painting from his “Four Freedoms” series.

Rockwell shows a masterful command of light in the white-on-white table service and curtained window in the dining room.

I decided to see if I could mimic the master while turning the image on its head; a bunch of turkeys sitting down to a bountiful family meal of man flesh. I may yet turn this idea into an oil painting. Happy Thanksgiving!


“Freedom from Want” by Norman Rockwell, part of his “Four Freedoms” series.


NCAA March Madness  Illustration
This illustration was the cover of the Sunday sports section in the Orange County Register at the kickoff of the 2009 NCAA basketball championships.

This feature illustration was the cover for the Orange County Register’s Sunday sports section at the kickoff of March Madness 2009.

I created the image with a combination of ink and acrylic on illustration board, which I then photographed and manipulated in photoshop.

The interesting thing about illustrating for the Register at that time is that they had recently downgraded the quality of their newsprint to the point its white was less bright and the paper more porous. No matter how high-res your image, it would only appear at 72 DPI quality.

This is a slideshow of my illustration and design portfolio.