Texts to Concepts to Images...
Kirsi Salonen has completed two of four book covers for The Last Wizard series project. This post explores a little of the process we undertook together for creating the covers. It’s a lengthy post. Grab a beverage for the read and relax.
For the reboot of the original novel, retitled Tamesan’s Song: The Last Wizard Book One, I imagined an image of Tam from the opening chapters, standing on the mountain overlooking Harbin village, watching the dragonship return. I also wanted to pay homage to the original Otto and Chris colours, along with the references to amber throughout the story (and all of my fantasy novels). I shared this concept image, along with the sections of text from the novel with Kirsi. In return, Kirsi asked a series of key questions around Tam’s posture, hair, clothing style before she sketched an initial image. After the initial sketches, we consolidated clothing style and Tam’s hair. Early on, Kirsi floated the notion of a dragon motif in the clouds. The idea waned in subsequent updates, but we both loved the idea so it re-emerged in the later versions and I think it looks amazing in the final.
I intend to publish the series in 9x6 format, so Kirsi has designed the cover art with these dimensions in mind.
While Kirsi was developing the cover art for the first book, I was drafting the second; Chasse’s Song: Book Two of the Last Wizard. By the time she completed the final version of the first cover, I was ready to send concepts for the second cover. Because it is Chasse’s point of view, I sent text and ideas for scenes with Chasse as the central figure, but I also included a third scene where Chasse watches his younger brother, Jaysin, engage with a wolf pack and especially the cubs. In discussions, Kirsi and I were both enamoured with the wolf cub scene and she began developing a concept around it. Her research led her to a beautiful painting as an inspiration and she used it and a range of references to build the preliminary sketch. Again, her use of light in the scene is stunning and carries connection between the first cover and this one. We discussed referencing Chasse watching the scene and I suggested we don’t. Kirsi worked details into Jaysin’s face, the forest, the cubs, plants – it would be fair to say this cover became a labour of artistic integrity and beauty. Each preliminary sketch shows how additional detail was steadily worked into the final. Kirsi has documented her process at this YouTube link.
In the end, what emerged in the second piece was not the cover for book two but a unique cover for Jaysin’s Song: The Last Wizard Book Three, the draft I am currently developing. Jaysin does re-encounter wolves in the third book and rescues a wolf cub to become his companion, so the scene is very apt.
I appreciate the collaborative process Kirsi and I engage in to develop the cover art because as a reader I like books with great covers that mirror imagery within the story. As for the cover to Chasse’s Song, well, we start that one again sometime soon, when we both have time to commit to it.
Update: Jaysin’s Song is now at the 20,000 word mark and going strong.
Writing is my passion. Ideas, opinions, beliefs, experiences expressed through language - through words and images - pervade and create my life. Writing is my voice, my soul, my self. My dream is one day writing will sustain my life...