eBook cover #art case study: evolution from concept to final cover #fantasy

I was admiring the cover of the paperback version of my novella yesterday, and I thought it might be fun to show the evolution, from concept to final product, of the cover art. It’s a visually comic tale, to be sure.

When I first started writing Shadows and Bones, which is the actual first novel in The Desolation War Saga (remember, The Prince of Graves is the prelude), I wanted some kind of image to associate with it for my blog posts. The problem is that, as an artist, my drawing ability is awful. So what I did was lay a sword (given to me as a gift several years ago) on to a rug that had a cool design on it (that I purchased in Iraq), and came up with this:


Kind of lame, but it was the best I could do at the time. If you go back and check out some of my earliest posts on S&B, you’ll see this image (with some slight alterations made using GIMP).

As the end of 2012 approached, I needed to get serious about a cover. The above pic was a concept for S&B, so I wanted to create a related image for Graves. Now, in the story the banner for the kingdom of Valeot is the hilt and pommel of a sword, and the banner for the Necromancer Kingdoms is a moon over a black field. So I figured this could work its way into the cover. So using a drawing app on my Xoom, I sketched out this:

First cover concept sketch

I SAID I couldn’t draw, ok? I just needed to get a concept out. This sketch soon morphed into this:

Second Concept Sketch

Again, these are only concept sketches. I liked the idea, but needed the talent. So I contact ed a friend of mine, Douglas, who has a background in graphic arts. His work is creative, cool, and often disturbing. I asked him if he would be interesting in creating my cover, and he agreed. So I sent him the above sketch, to which he replied: “What is the amoebic critter in the top right? The sun? A dramatic Batman moon?”

Ha. Ha. Just make me a cover.

So he got right on it. The next few images depict the final evolution of the cover for the Prince of Graves.

First artist draft

Second artist draft

Third artist draft

Final Cover art

And that’s that. It was a fun time, and Douglas did a fantastic job. By the way, if you’re looking for an artist for your cover, drop me a message and I can connect you to him.

I’d love to hear some of your cover-design stories.


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