“18” – The Cover

“Who are those people on the cover of your book?”

Easy question. Easier answer. Especially for those that have finished the novel.

The middle character is, naturally, Queen Melanie. The “18”th queen of Mother.

On the left, holding the sword, is Marie Mercer. The captain of the Queen’s guard, the Own.

On the right, riding the Rigger, is Kristen Muller, who, at the beginning was the mild mannered and eager to please Queen’s Lady. Those that have finished know the story, but I don’t want to spoil it for those that haven’t finished.

In the background along the top of the mountains are a set of eyes. Hmm! I’m not telling you. At least, not yet.

Now that the question is answered, let’s talk a bit about the making of the cover.

The cover was designed and set to scale by Steven Hammond.

Steven is the author of the “Rise of the Penguins” series. You can check those out on Amazon and you can learn more about Steven at: http://www.stevenhammondbooks.com/  and on Instagram@stevenhammond12 .

I, personally, had little to do with the cover, other than hashing suggestions out with the publisher, and then providing Steven with some famous people that I thought the characters in my mind resembled, so that he could get bone structure and muscle tone ideas. Steven took it from there.

His first challenge was reading the initial draft, which he did and then sat down and sketched out a basic design with a few ideas of his own. Just basic shapes, layout and positioning.

Once approved, he moved on to developing the characters, as well as working on the Rigger. The Rigger was the size of a riding horse, and there was nothing else for him to go on, so Steven pictured a mixture of a hyena and a wolf, which for me was pretty accurate.

Once preliminary sketches were finished it was time, once again, to submit them for feedback. He got the feedback and made the changes necessary.

Next, Steven dove into Photoshop to flesh out the sketches. Most of Steven’s experience was in charcoal and oils, so digital painting was new to him, but he soon became experienced. He started with the background, mountains and landscape, and then came the fun part. The characters. Time for layers.

Each character had multiple layers. Melanie alone was nearly twenty, ranging from a line drawing to multiple layers for the hair coloring. After the first iteration of digital painting, it was time for another critique, which brought on more tweaking.

From there, it was time for that unique thing that Steven does. Pyrography. He converted that digital painting onto a wood burn. A book cover from a wood burn! The subtle details could have been lost and that is not something you can make a mistake on. You can’t exactly erase the boo boo. It took about a week, but he got it done.

Then Steven put his photography experience to work. He photographed the wood burn, made some tonal adjustments, did a little cropping and took it in for approval from the publisher. It was decided wood burn wouldn’t show up well as a cover.

Undaunted, Steven went back to Photoshop and spent a goodly amount of time merging the wood burn with the original digital painting. Voila! It was done.

The entire process, start to finish, took a couple of month’s to complete, but did provide a unique and distinctive cover.

Steven described it as “A great experience, full of frustrations and accomplishments, and more than a few long nights of eye strain and an aching hand.” He is also ready for book two.