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Category: The Affinities of Magic

Cover update for Structures of Earth

Posted in Artwork, Structures of Earth, and The Affinities of Magic

Draft before final painting
Draft before final painting

My cover artist, Jake Bullock, has been very busy running through draft versions of the cover for the first book in the new series, The Affinities of Magic. It's been great fun working through this with him, and I thought you might enjoy an update on the process as he moves on to the final version. My requirements…

  • The back covers of the novels will be the front covers for short stories and story collections
  • Every story will include a discovery in the study of bio-magic, so every story or book will include a vignette of an animal, plant, whatever, that is the basis for the discovery
  • There will be an internal illustration of the critter, plant, whatsis inside each story
  • Every novel cover will include the mother house of the Torch & Scroll guild, now fallen on very hard times with its last master. The rise of fortune (or its setback) will be reflected in each new novel.

For Structures of Earth, the vignette shows a burrowing rodent-like critter, the study of which will lead to some amazing insights, rather like Gregor Mendel's experiments with peas.

The cover illustrations in this post are intermediate drafts. The Author font will change to match all of my books, and many painted details will be added to both the background and the Title/Series text.

You can see more of Jake's work here.
Full Cover-2
Critter

Sigil for Torch & Scroll

Posted in Artwork, and Structures of Earth

Torch and Scroll Sigil
My first series, The Hounds of Annwn, uses a sigil that represents Antler Sigilthe entire series: the red deer antlers of Cernunnos. You see it inside the books, on the title pages and at the end, as a sort of frame for the stories.

Now Jake Bullock, my cover artist, has come up with a sigil representing the dying wizard guild for my new series, The Affinities of Magic. Each guild has a specialty and an emblem.

The guild that specializes in overall research, sort of the R&D arm of the guilds, is in terrible shape and has almost died out. Its once-proud symbol, Torch & Scroll, bears the nickname Ashes & Dust. The guild hall itself has been shut down and the few folk left are huddled in the servants' quarters.

But there are some who are determined to raise this guild from the dust and ashes and to revolutionize the understanding and practice of magic. Stay tuned for their stories…

You can see more of Jake's work here.

Cover Artist Audition Sketch – Rich Whyte

Posted in Artwork, Structures of Earth, and The Affinities of Magic

CoverSketch-RichWhyte-karen1Here's the second candidate for cover art for The Affinities of Magic from artist Richard Whyte. He's taken a different approach to the academy building.

Both Jake Bullock and Rich Whyte are British, and I'm amused that, given encouragement to use any period in any region, or to make up something out of whole cloth, they each defaulted to more or less Victorian England. (Apparently you can take the Brit out of England but you can't…)

Is this the influence of steampunk, do you suppose?

I find that the sketch by Jake Bullock seems to capture more of the flavor of “fantasy” and more of the notion of the academy building as a “main character” in its own right, where Rich Whyte's has more of the flavor of a period mystery or of the aforementioned steampunk. Covers are very important for genre fiction — they should immediately suggest the appropriate genre, and I think Jake Bullock's is doing a better job of that.

What do you think?

You can find more of Rich's work here.

Cover artist audition sketch – Jake Bullock

Posted in Artwork, Structures of Earth, and The Affinities of Magic

Cover-Sketch-Crop-Jake-BullockI've asked two cover artist candidates to do a preliminary cover sketch for The Affinities of Magic, and a third is considering. I thought my readers would enjoy looking over my shoulder at the process of picking a cover artist for a series, and I'd be delighted to hear your thoughts.

Artist Jake Bullock has just sent me his preliminary sketch and I wanted to share that with you.

The cover for all the novels will feature an old wizard guild house, fallen into bad times along with its clan. Because of one brilliant young student and his systematic discoveries, the guild house will be gradually revived into an academy for a new school of magic. In each new novel you can see visible improvements, both to the building and to its surroundings.

The series background concerns a world that is moving from the biological equivalent of alchemy to chemistry, that is, from a mystical practice to a science-based one. Every story, short or long, will include a natural biological entity that produces an insight into how things really work, and that will be featured in a small vignette on the cover.

For long works, that vignette will be on the back cover. For short works, the back cover scene and its vignette will function as the front cover (short works don't appear in print and only need front covers).

You can find more of Jake's work here.Cover-Sketch-Jake-Bullock

Planning cover art for The Affinities of Magic

Posted in Artwork, and The Affinities of Magic

eolin_saga__revenge_of_ruyzouy_by_ertacaltinoz-d6wq03bMy next large work, after I complete Bound into the Blood, will be the start of a new series called The Affinities of Magic. That doesn't mean I'll stop writing stories in the first series, but just that I'll be keeping two going now.

All of the paintings for my covers for the books and stories in The Hounds of Annwn are the work of Larissa Kulik, a Russian surrealist. I've been using her paintings from stock photo sites and adapting them to my use.

For my next series, I plan to commission art work for the covers instead. It's an interesting challenge because, although I only need to buy one to start with, I have to plan for several novels and collections, as well as short stories, and they need to be both reasonably priced and recognizable as a single body of work. (Each series needs a brand.)  So I need to find an artist who:

  • Wants to commit for a number of digital paintings over the next couple of years without charging a fortune.
  • Works in a style which I think is suitable for the books.
  • Understands the basics of book cover composition for placement of book titles, etc.  I'll do the layout and design myself, but the paintings should take all that into account.
  • Isn't too overloaded to produce work fairly promptly.

The way you shop for this is to ask for recommendations from other authors and scour places like Deviant Art and ELance for artist portfolios that seem to meet your criteria.  I've spent the last couple of days pouring through portfolios by the hundreds and sending out feelers, but it will take a while before I can settle on a very short list.  I'll show you all samples as I go through the process, for your amusement (and input).

There are some amazing graphic artists out there.   The illustration for this post comes from Ertac Altinoz.