The Art of A Changed World – revised edition

My free digital publication chronicling the creation of Alice Sabo’s cover art has been updated.

The newly revised edition of The Art of A Changed World, and now includes the artwork for Alice’s recent books, Shattered Landing, Willow’s Run and Entangled, alongside the creative process behind each cover.

Click the cover image below to download The Art of A Changed World (revised edition) in PDF format.

Cover art: Gardens of Earth

Gardens of Earth by Mark Iles is the first book of The Sundering Chronicles, coming soon from Elsewhen Press. 

Elsewhen contacted me to illustrate the cover, as they knew it would be a good match for my style, having worked together on several previous occasions. Gardens of Earth literally spans several genres – the story tackles alien war, a future that may be considered either dystopian or utopian, a protagonist dealing with personal demons, the remnants of Earth’s inhabitants now living in a sparse society under the watchful eye of the strange plant-like Spooks, and returning human colonists intent on reclaiming the Earth.

While you might primarily consider Gardens of Earth to be a science fiction novel, elements of myth and magic fantasy are also present. So how do you represent all this in a single cover image?

You don’t even try! A cluttered book cover with too many elements fighting for attention never looks good. We knew this of course, so the challenge for this cover was to come up with an image that would set an overall tone for the book and draw the reader in via a single snapshot.

An email conversation between myself, Mark and Elsewhen resulted in a couple of concepts being discussed. The first was the view of a greener Earth with some of the Spooks closing in. We also looked at the idea of our protagonist and female humanoid companion staring out over a vista of forestry and simple human settlements, again with the Spooks looming on the horizon.

Initial concept sketches for Gardens of Earth

I worked up rough sketches for both, and we agreed the version showing the two figures was the right approach – however Mark wanted to see a city backdrop rather than forestry. Cityscapes have long been a recurring theme in my artwork, so it was a concept I was immediately comfortable with. 

Mark had also gone over some specific, minor details – such as the insigia we see on the female’s left shoulder or the pilot’s commando knife at thigh level. Their coveralls were also to be dark green, which for me, set the colour palette for the overall scene. I wanted some atmospheric, hazy light that could be either sunset or sunrise, and chose a palette of turquoise through to yellow – the green tones in between also linked back to the greener world featured in parts of the story.

The team at Elsewhen had already chosen a typeface for the series, so we worked together to agree on the most effective layout. I suggested having the title in a dark blue to contrast the illustration but also match the darkest colours present – this little touch glued it all together. My original illustration extended beyond the cover format, so we were able to extend it around the spine and on to the back of the book.

Gardens of Earth is available to pre-order as an eBook on 6th August, and will be out in paperback in October. Keep an eye on the Elsewhen Press website or social media pages for further details!

Talking cover design

I’m pleased to have a guest blog interview over on the Just Write Right website, about cover art and design, my creative process and working with self-publishing authors.

https://justwriteright.co.uk/2021/07/26/talking-cover-design/

Best of British Science Fiction 2020

The Best of British Science Fiction 2020 anthology from NewCon Press, edited by Donna Scott, is due for release on 27th July and can be pre-ordered from the NewCon Press website, in paperback and limited edition signed hardback formats.

I am delighted to see my digital painting Daybreak featured as the cover to this collection, which genuinely contains an illustrious selection of science fiction writers.

Daybreak is one of my personal favourite pieces, so it is particularly rewarding to have it used on this anthology.

I often create artwork with the possibility of cover licensing in mind, but this didn’t happen to be one of them – it’s a landscape piece for a start. But when Ian Whates at NewCon Press sent over the proofs of the cover, I was pleasantly surprised at how well Daybreak lent itself to cover art – particularly on the hardback format, where the solid dark blue perfectly wraps itself around the dust jacket. I couldn’t wish for it to have a better home.

New cover art

My piece, Into Battle graces the cover of issue 24 of Shoreline of Infinity Magazine – Edinburgh’s finest science fiction publication. I had the pleasure of illustrating an interior piece in their first issue some six years ago, so it’s great to be back!

To get your copy or find out more, visit the Shoreline of Infinity website.

Another cover reveal in the same week – this time a brand new piece for Entangled, the latest instalment of Alice Sabo’s “Transmutation” space opera series.

You can keep up with Alice’s work over on her Facebook page.

Best of British Science Fiction 2020

I’m pleased to announce my illustration Daybreak features as the cover art to an exciting forthcoming SF anthology from NewCon Press – Best of British Science Fiction 2020. The book is edited by Donna Bond and features a wealth of contemporary science fiction authors including Mike Carey and Anne Charnock as well as the BSFA Award-winning short story, Infinite Tea in the Demara Café.

Best of British Science Fiction 2020 is now up for pre-order on the NewCon Press website.

Blackpool Remembered – out today

Today sees the release of Blackpool Remembered – John Collier’s long-time ambition to create an extensive book about the original Doctor Who exhibition in Blackpool.

I have illustrated the front cover and several exclusive interior pieces, as well as producing the year-by-year floor plans and providing several written pieces – it has been an absolute pleasure to be a part of this epic project. Blackpool Remembered is a digital publication, with over 400 pages and 80 contributors, and it’s all available for free!

The August Bank Holiday weekend was a time when the Collier family would traditionally be making their way up to Blackpool – which for young John, meant it would soon be time to descend those famous stairs once again, to see the year’s new exhibits at the Doctor Who exhibition, hidden beneath the surface of Blackpool’s Golden Mile.

It is now time to re-live those moments, as John’s long-time ambition to compile an expansive book about the Blackpool Doctor Who exhibition has finally come to fruition.

Enter the TARDIS and defy the Daleks once again, as Blackpool Remembered is now available! It is most certainly bigger on the inside – you will find over 400 pages of memories, photographs, interviews, floor plans, nostalgia, memorabilia, artwork and much more. For those fans who visited, this is the opportunity to go back in time, and for the generations of fans who missed it, your visit starts here!

Download Blackpool Remembered from the project website.

The Art of a Changed World – Illustrating the novels of Alice Sabo

I’m pleased to announce a new, free digital publication, The Art of a Changed World – a detailed retrospective of the cover art I have produced with writer Alice Sabo, since 2014.

The Art of a Changed World brings together all my concept art, final cover illustrations and designs for Alice’s thirteen books to date – spanning science fiction, fantasy and thriller genres. It contains the stories behind each cover, as well as insights into the creative process alongside contributions from Alice, plus a wonderful foreword by Richard Hayes.

This project celebrates creative collaboration in the world of independent publishing – whether you are an aspiring or established writer, artist, publisher, fan or reader, I hope you enjoy The Art of a Changed World.

Click the button below or the image above to download in PDF format.

Alice Sabo: Dilemma cover reveal

Dilemma is the third book in Alice Sabo’s space fantasy series, Transmutation, and will be published as an ebook on January 23. Here is my cover art, which we’re both very pleased with!

There’s another project in the pipeline, which I’ll be posting details about in the coming days, so stay tuned!

Mike Carey – All That’s Red Earth

For this year’s Novacon (report to follow…), I was invited to provide the cover art to the traditional convention chapbook that each attendee receives in their welcome pack. This year’s Guest of Honour was Mike Carey, author of The Girl With All the Gifts and the Felix Castor series (among others!).

This year’s chapbook – limited to just 250 copies – contains two short stories; All That’s Red Earth and Second Wing. Both stories are featured in The Complete Short Stories of Mike Carey, from PS Publishing. However, this was an opportunity to illustrate one of them, and All That’s Red Earth was the selected, as it is the story that ultimately spawned Mike’s forthcoming novel, The Book of Koli.

I usually ask writers or publishers for a synopsis and chapter or excerpt, as I rarely have the time to read a full manuscript prior to illustrating a book cover. However, this being a short story was ideal, as I could read the whole thing. Mike was particularly keen on one of the scenes towards the end, where the story’s protagonist Tari, summons a snowstorm by magic. We also agreed it would also work well as an image to provide an overall feel for the story.

Mono draft sketch:

One of the many enjoyable things about this cover for me was that it was a little different to what I’ve done before, and I also wanted to reflect that in the colour scheme. While the scene needed the onset of a blizzard, too much snow wouldn’t work, and I really wanted to capture the colours of a wintry sunset. The character of Tari is an unusual one, which took a couple of revisions to get right – such is the joy of working digitally!

It was a real pleasure to be able to give All That’s Red Earth its own cover art – and here it is.

Final cover: