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.

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!

The Call of the Aïdin Planet – in print!

Today I received copies of the hardback and paperback versions of L.Z. Dàin’s novel, The Call of the Aïdin Planet – book one of The Legacy Saga – to which I had the pleasure of illustrating and designing the cover.

I’m delighted with just how good they look in print, and as always, it is a genuine pleasure to see an author’s dream become a reality. To find out more, visit: https://www.theaidinhorizon.net

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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.