This is the cover for the collected stories of “Boris O’Hara” titled “To The Death” by Jerrold Mundis
After discussing the various elements involved in each story we initially tried a montage, but Jerrold decided he’s prefer to go for something with more action. Almost like a traditional pulp cover.
It was quite a daunting subject and I spent a lot of time collecting reference. In my fictional coliseum I wanted to include some of the Roman Gods so in the back ground you see Jupiter (King of the Gods) Mars (God of War) and Venus (God of love). I also felt it would need a great crowd bristling with excitement.
The battle is taking place in the late afternoon, the sun casting the long shadows and bright light slashes across the crowd, through the breaks in the canvas overhang.
The gladiators battle as the woman looks on, wondering if she will have to live with the grief of losing her love and remain a slave to the older warrior or if her lover can set her free.
The covers I’ve done for this series prior to this one I consider to be some of my best work.
How was I going to top what I’d already achieved?
I needn’t have worried though. As soon as I read the brief my mind was filled with ideas. and this is the amazing thing about working with Richard.
He has such a powerful vision., and it would bring out the best in any artist.
” The specification for Sacred Honor is a wind-swept plain, with a pair of officers looking up at a ruined, obviously alien statue – one of them Marshall, the other the woman from the cover of Price of Admiralty. (That goes back a bit!) They’re wearing uniform trousers and warmer brown jackets, pistols holstered at their belt. There is a red sun in the sky, casting a faint light. As for the statue – I haven’t got any fixed ideas on it, but I’d like it to evoke that old ‘Ozymandius – King of Kings’ quote. It is old, very old, and crumbling away; some pieces of it are on the ground, there’s a strange mould growing across some of it, pieces missing, that sort of thing.”
I immediately looked up the poem:
“I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.“
And as I opened manga studio 5 I began to think about lost and extinct alien civilizations.
First came the wind swept plain and the alien sky. Distant alien mountains. Next I began to sketch the ancient alien statue. I thought of the Egyptians, I thought of the of the great Frazetta as he painted the work of Egdar rice Boroughs, and I began to feel a great sense of loss for the civilization that was now expired. This emotion found it’s way into the statue I was drawing who I realized was now screaming in despair.
Finally I placed the witnesses to this tragedy, the brave explorers of Richard’s space opera. I landed their ship and sent them exploring the strange and ancient world.
Once the visual was completed I forwarded it to Richard. It looked like this:
Well fortunately Richard liked it and so I went on to complete the work. As you can probably see I made a few minor changes but I think it came out well.
To be honest this kind of work is why I got interested in painting in the first place and I hope it inspires the sense of mystery and the intense desire to know more about the story that it does for me.
You can keep up to date with Richards work here: .http://richardtongue.blogspot.co.uk/
“Triple – Cross” is the cover for the first book in Richard Tongue’s “Spitfire Station” Series.
Richard asked for a “film noir” type feel to the image.
The protagonist was to be seen drawing his gun while keeping hold of his drink, meanwhile behind him a glamorous singer/dancer is observed by the bar crowd.
In order to get the feel I went for deep contrast in the lighting, but everything looking a little subdued by a mass of cigarette smoke (just like in the old movies).
I also realized that on a space station (that is spun to achieve gravity) it would likely be a low gravity environment. So everything had to have that slow motion feel.
The dancer would be taking advantage of her low weight and able to make extraordinary moves while singing.
The protagonist drawing his gun knocks over the table and chair and the drinks almost float into the air.
Through the space station window, If you look carefully you can see a nod to the “Battlecruiser Alamo” Series.
To keep up to date with Richard’s books you can follow his blog here: richardtongue.blogspot.co.uk/
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It was a really exciting job, not like anything I’d ever done before.
“The setting is an elegant library with carved rosewood–as if the Sistine Chapel and a library crossed.
The focus, though, is on a painting hanging on the wall.
It is of a woman, wearing an beautiful, full-length gown as if going to a ball, and she is holding a deep-red rose. She has long, black hair and green eyes.
The portrait should have Diane sitting down, looking toward the spine of the book. Behind her, in the painting, a forest green (or some green that looks nice) tapestry with a unicorn (just enough to recognize it as such, if possible.
Diane has a slender nose and hypnotic eyes, and a wonderful smile. The smile is important. It doesn’t have to show teeth, just obviously a smile. She should be wearing a corset. The library, which I assume would be mostly on the back, would be of books and scrolls.”
To create the library I started with the amazing free “3D Mandelbulb Ray Tracer”.
I made multiple renders and edited them together to create the basic structure and then went on to add lots of details.
Inspiration can come from many places.
She gave me the stock shot of the Main Character and together we decided I would paint everything else (including the wings).
Realism is always a challenge but I feel it was a great success, combining the best elements of both media.
I’ve been working with Richard for quite some time and he usually gives me quite a free hand with what I do, but not this time.
“The setting is a dank and dismal dungeon, illuminated by strange luminescent mold on the walls, not bright but bright enough to illuminate our heroes – the dungeon itself is an ancient tomb, strange symbols and markings carved into the cracking marble. Two heroes are engaged in battle,one of them a rougish-type fighter wearing leather armour, carrying a sword, the other a raven-haired sorceress wearing a long, flowing robe – the colour of which I leave to you, whatever you think looks best, preferably with some strange and arcane symbols on it, and her hand is raised, crackling with eldritch blue light. They are fighting some nasty skeletons – think the Harryhousen type from ‘Jason and the Argonauts’ – armed with shields and swords. There are some ‘dead’ skeletons on the ground, and some sort of horrible creature up above about to catch them by surprise.”
There is a lot going on and a lot of characters appearing in the image so how to go about bringing it to life in a way that will sell the book?
Well the image needs to draw the viewer in to the scene so a view into the temple with perceptive to draw the viewer in and lighting to create a focal point seemed like a good start.
First off I laid in a Golden Ratio 9 section Grid as a template which I would use to help balance the image.
Next the background/temple was laid in making sure there would be enough air for the title and Author in the top “third” of the grid.
Now onto the characters. I decided to place these in layers from back to front in order to help enhance the depth. I sketched in the rough positions.
Starting with the giant octopus creature to the background, making it dark and almost unseen.
Next came Sorceress, I placed her to the right of the center section of the grid she’s kind of hovering in a dramatic almost Christlike pose, bathed in light, casting a spell. I placed a bright surge of magic power behind her that is reflected in the floor and this serves almost like vertical arrow drawing the eye up from the base right to her.
Next I painted the green smoke surging off to the sides which also serve to lead the eye in but this time from the sides.
The next depth layer is the three skeletons were placed in the mid distance, heads just below the center line and slightly to the right of center. I painted then quite dark with stark highlights so they stand out well and at the same time look quite eerie.
Now comes the second hero, dodging a blow from one of the skeletons. He’s much closer to the viewer and so much bigger in the frame. I placed him below the center and in the left section of the grid. He is painted in heavy contrast creating drama while standing out from the back ground. There is now also a good balance of tone and shape.
The broken skeleton in the foreground, again painted in high contrast adds another layer of depth while at the same time framing the base of the image.
You’ll notice that by positioning and lighting the Sorceress and the Hero as I did I made them the “Stars” of the image.
Now the rough was completed I sent it off for approval and fortunately Richard liked it and so I went on to work it up to what you see here.
The title, series name and Author typography were all based on the existing Series name logo. Again it took a little thought but I was able to make it all tie together with the layout of the image.
I left this until last but in hindsight I think it’s always better to design the typography first since it can have a great impact on the final image. In this case I was fortunate in that I had to make few changes to the overall painting, and of course since I work digitally this is much easier to do. Had I painted this in oil I would have had a much harder time of it.
I wont make that mistake again.
Richard’s Blog can be found here
And his Face book is here
“Weapons of Power”, Book 1 “The Silver Portal” and Book 2 “The Black Bearer” By David J. Normoyle.
Obviously when designing a series we have to think about how we are going to keep a consistent feel through out all of the covers. They need to look like part of a series while at the same time looking exciting and new. Not as simple as it sounds.
David gave me the synopsis of the books and after some discussion we decided to go for a kind of classic film poster format, featuring the main characters and locations that appear in the particular books. It’s also a good idea to hint at the kind of adventure the reader will experience when reading the books.
The intention when designing covers like this is to create a kind of film trailer effect on the viewer, leaving them with a mind filled with excitement and questions they want to know the answers for.
David designed and provided me with the excellent“Weapons of Power” Logo for the series. It’s always important to ensure that the space allotted for title and Author is going to work well and be readable at all viewing sizes. Segregation of the cover using the rule of thirds or as I did for these covers, the more complex (but also more aesthetically pleasing) Golden ratios is always a good way to determine the best location for the Typography.
The color can really set the mood and it also works on many other subconscious levels. The use of complimentary colors balancing out across the layout, and the tonal contrast variations in these paintings all help to draw the eye in creating depth movement and flow across the image. (more about color here)
Finally when it comes to the actual image (especially for this kind of genre) it can be useful to implement quite a lot of detail in order to keep the viewer engaged and anther trick is to try to add glimpses in to landscape of the world in the fantasy that create the desire to enter the image and see more. Although these covers are paintings it’s quite possible to do this with photo montage.
Prints and posters of the paintings are available here:
“Weapons of Power”, Book 2 “The Black Bearer” Front only
Thanks to http://skydancer-stock.deviantart.com/ for the great reference of Wizards.
Thanks to Marcus Ranum who provides Great Stock photography FOC on DevaintArt which I used for Reference;
Also Thanks to the Model Laura Preciado who posed for the character of
Suma – the woman with the Axe.
I’ll be honest, it was quite a scary brief. I’d never done anything like this before and converting a diagram into an interesting and hopefully captivating image seemed very daunting.
Alan Moore once said (and I’m paraphrasing because I’m too lazy to look up his actual words):
“Push the boundaries of your skills, always try to work outside of your comfort zone and in that way you will continue to grow as an artist.”
So with that in mind I got stuck in.
The composition was a challenge. I thought about those old Chinese landscape paintings guó huà and the way they are almost in layers from top to bottom achieving great depth (though with unusual perspective).
Source: By Anonymous (National Palace Museum) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I decided to try something similar but rather than create a weird perspective I simply changed the curvature of the earth so we can see much further. Using layers of content I built up the depth and of course I continued to use golden ratios to help with the balance of shape , color and contrast.
Prints and poster of this image are available here