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!

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.

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!

Cover art: The Call of the Aïdin Planet

I’m delighted to reveal my cover art for The Call of the Aïdin Planet, by L.Z.Dàin – book one of The Legacy Saga from Seattle-based publisher, Tales of the Horizon.

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“Nine-hundred thousand years ago, seven Galactic Humans discover a mysterious Time singularity on planet Earth. But, obscure powers beyond the many worlds of the Galactic Union will not stop until they control it. Thus, the seven must make a choice, a choice that will not only affect their evolutionary future but the destiny of Earth itself.”

As much as I love the opportunity to come up with initial ideas for a cover, I really like it when the author or publisher have a clear vision of what they’d like on the cover. It is their book after all! Sometimes this process can be flexible, depending on what ideas I may have or that I feel could add impact, and on other occasions, simply my own interpretation of the initial brief does the job. It is important to me that the finished work is typical of my style and approach to a distinctive cover but more importantly, what I come up with has to match their vision – and good collaboration and communication is key to that. The cover for this book is a fine example of a project perfectly coming together, despite us being on opposite sides of the globe!

Even when there’s a clear brief, I’ll always work up a quick black & white sketch, to make sure the composition and my interpretation are correct.

The Call of The Aïdin Planet cover sketch

Finally, I took the various elements of the illustration and created an animated reveal for the cover art:

The Call of the Aïdin Planet is available in paperback and ebook via Amazon. Further details about Tales of the Horizon can be found on their website.

Random Number Generator cover art

My first new cover art for 2019 is for A. Maldon’s new collection of science fiction short stories, Random Number Generator.

Random_Number Generator

I discussed various aspects of the title story with the author and initially worked up several different cover concepts. We both agreed that the image of a young boy wired into some kind of menacing looking machinery would make for a striking and interesting cover.

Below is the concept sketch:

Random Number Generator cover concept

Random Number Generator is out now in ebook format.

Cover art for Alice Sabo’s “Desperate Measures”

Here is the front cover artwork for Desperate Measures – book five of Alice Sabo’s Changed World Series.

This cover was an enjoyable challenge. Alice had a rough idea of the kind of thing she wanted, but wasn’t sure how or even if it would work as a book cover, so that’s when it fell to me to come up with an atmospheric and thought provoking image, that would also sit comfortably alongside the other books in the series.

With most of Alice’s previous covers, I have always worked up one or two rough sketches beforehand, whereas with this one, I launched straight into the actual artwork.

Desperate Measures is out now – check out Alice’s blog for further information.

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Cover reveal – Pillar of Frozen Light

Barry Rosenberg’s science fiction epic Pillar of Frozen Light is due to be unveiled this weekend at Novecon (the UK’s longest-established science fiction convention), by publisher Guardbridge Books.

The story has been described as character-driven journey from self-indulgence to enlightenment, and follows Jonan, a man driven by his desire for a remarkable woman, pursued by a shadowy menace, and intrigued by mysterious pillars found on distant worlds that hint at a knowledge way beyond human understanding…

The brief for this project was to convey that traversal of space and alien vistas alongside the story of desire, and the strange, ominous pillars of light that form the core of the story.

Pillar-of-Frozen-Light-web

My cover art for Pillar of Frozen Light will also feature in the Novacon art show.

For more information about Guardbridge Books, visit: guardbridgebooks.co.uk

Finally, here is an animated cover reveal video!

Cover Reveal: No Space for Justice

I have just completed the cover art for No Space for Justice, by William N. Gilmore – and here it is.

The story sees Earth’s best homicide detective shipped off to a strange alien world with no police, courts or crime, to solve an 800-year-old murder, and it was crucial to get a feel for this in the cover art.

Stay tuned for more details about the book’s release this coming December, plus a look at the back cover illustration…

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