I do my own covers. Not being an illustrator, I simply settle mostly for mood. For the last few years I’ve put painting off to one side, as I found that I had run out of new ideas on what and how to paint. However, I want to get back into painting, so I decided to paint the cover for The Girl on the Kerb on the off chance that it won’t be picked up by a major publisher. Below is my pencil sketch for the paperback cover. I should note that this cover scene was decided on while the book title was still The Road to Eura. It is a scene from early in the story. I will probably have to rethink my cover with the new title.
Sorry about the quality of these photos, but it is hard to capture a faint pencil line. Also note that this is for the paper version, so I’ve done a quick mock up of how it would work out.
After sketching it, it took me several weeks to get around to actually painting. And then, I just did the sky with the three remaining towers of London’s Solar Age in the distance. A week or so later I worked in some details in the middle ground to arrive at the painting below.
At this point I realized that I was in trouble. This piece was falling into the uncanny valley of where it looked like I was trying to paint realistically, and failing badly. This is always the great danger of impressionism. You have to make certain that your viewers realize that you’re trying to paint without regard for realism. It’s loose and sloppy on purpose. The problem for me is always the middle distance. I try to paint scenes that include only the foreground and a background, That middle distance, where things get gradually smaller and less detailed is something I am terrible at. And here we had that middle distance in the receding buildings and tram. To eliminate as much of that as possible, I planned to bring the tram into the foreground. You can see the pencil sketch over the smaller version. And I hoped that the bare trees would cover up most the middle buildings.
A week or two later, I had a rainy Saturday on my hands, so I decided to tackle the painting for real. Now, I should say that a lot of what your are seeing is just roughed in, nothing was be final. Even so, I saw that I was in way over my head. And moreover, whatever I could salvage from this, would be so far from my original vision – as vague as it was -- that it wasn't what I wanted.. It just wasn't going to work. I tossed in my brushes and called it day on that painting.
However, since I had a much more immediate cover to paint, one for The Aerie of a Pirate Prince, I decided to tackle that cover by painting over this one. The scene I had in mind for that cover was much more in my wheelhouse. Below is the painting I came up with. This is the work of a couple of hours.
The scene is set on the rim of a large crater. The sun is setting behind us, illuminating the opposite crater rim. Mostly out of sight beyond the curve of the hill is a space port that is surrounded by warehouses. We have a rocket taking off on the right from the nearest section of the spaceport. The building in the foreground are small shops that repair containers, small ships boats, and such. Our two heroes are following a suspect who knows where the stolen goods have been taken.
Below is the final version for the paper back book after I worked on it in the photoshop style app, Gimp. I adjusted the color and contrast. added slight black outlines around brush strokes and made the rocket taking off brighter.
I will make the final version a little lighter than this one looks to be. I have to add the blurb in the box on the back cover as well. Long story short, I did end up with a useable cover, just not for the book I started to paint for. With the current title of The Girl on the Kerb, I almost have to paint the girl on the kerb for the cover... But I have time to work on that. In any event, look for the release of The Aerie of a Pirate Prince in the last half of September or early October.