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.

Doctor Who in detail…

I spent a large part of my childhood drawing Doctor Who. Any other fans out there will understand how an obsession over something like this can grip you, especially at a young age – and to have some drawing ability meant that I could visualise my own worlds and adventures (usually at the expense of homework!). But, my comics would often remain half finished (or half started) or they would just be another excise to draw the Daleks.

My obsession with the Daleks was probably equal to my obsession with the show – and still is. I loved drawing them (though they were, are, and will always be challenging things to draw!). But, until this year, I hadn’t drawn any Daleks for many years, and it was literally over twenty years since I had last done any kind of Doctor Who illustration whatsoever, especially as in the last decade, my science fiction work and cover art has been at the fore.

Earlier this year when I became involved in both Blackpool Remembered and Terraqueos Distributors’ Unofficial 1989 Dr Who Annual, I found myself returning to line-art and really enjoying it. In the past I would always prefer to work with ink on paper for line-art, but once scanned in, the results never looked as good, so I decided to work entirely digitally, which isn’t without its challenges on a graphics tablet.

The pieces for Blackpool Remembered were obviously heavily inspired by the original Blackpool exhibition; the lighting and colours in particular. But I also wanted to pay a subtle homage to the vintage annuals of the 1970s – the 1975 Daleks Omnibus in particular, at the same time as putting my own stamp on the pieces. Even though both book projects were complete, I felt that old urge to do some more, so set about doing more Daleks, Davros (based on Terry Molloy’s take on the character in the 1980s) and another old favourite of mine, the Sontarans.

Taking stock of this recent output, I realised that this collection of pieces – depicting some of the Doctor’s most famous alien adversaries as well as good old K9 – deserved to be more than digital files sitting on my hard drive or in social media feeds. They simply needed to be something to have and hold, and this led to the production of a limited edition sets of prints.

I’m really proud of this set – not only because of the project that spawned them, but rediscovering both my passion for illustrating Doctor Who and establishing a particular style was very rewarding, but also because it feels like a culmination of so many years of fandom and the simple joy putting pen to paper (or pixel).

The prints are A5 and finished with a matt lamination that gives extra protection without losing any of the artwork’s vibrancy. Each pack is assembled by hand and numbered. There’s only a limited quantity available, so anybody after a set, head over to the listing on eBay: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Doctor-Who-character-art-prints-A5-pack-of-6/363211090432

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.

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: 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…

No_Space_For_Justice

Cover Reveal: Blood Relations

I’m pleased to reveal my most recent cover illustration, for the latest book in Alice Sabo’s Asher Blaine mystery series, Blood Relations.

The cover art follows the same visual and typographical style to the previous two Asher Blaine titles. For this new book, Alice came to me with a fairly clear idea of what she wanted to see on the cover – Blaine, standing in a cornfield, with vultures circling overhead. My immediate reaction was to set the scene at sundown, with a golden haze enveloping our subtly blood-stained protagonist.

Below is the full front, back and spine design for the paperback version.

Blood_Relations_Cover_Art_spread

To find out more about Blood Relations and Alice’s other books, visit her blog.

From the shadows…

I recently completed 3 illustrations that were inspired by The Body Library – the latest book by Jeff Noon. I was present at the book’s launch at Follycon, earlier this year, where Noon read a haunting passage from the book – although I was already sold on it, having read the first book in the series, A Man of Shadows, last year.

The world which Jeff Noon has created for the inspector Nyquist mysteries is quite unusual. Astoundingly original, in fact. I haven’t read anything quite like it. The first book,  A Man of Shadows, was set across two time (and mind) bending worlds; Dayzone (a city of constant daylight) and Nocturna (an eerie underworld of perpetual darkness). It felt like a surreal film noir, or some kind of retro-futuristic graphic novel. For The Body Library, Jeff Noon turned that strangeness up to 11, setting the book in the city of Storyville… a place founded on the written word. Words spread like living disease and everyday life is infected by stories.

Living up to its title, The Body Library is a  surreal and disturbed with a gripping murder mystery at its core. I found my inspiration fired up, and knew I had to interpret some of the book’s moments in my own way; as if illustrating an imaginary graphical version of the story. I hadn’t done any illustration work like this for a long time, so that in itself was particularly rewarding.