Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Princess In Exile

My pal, writer Chris Wichtendahl, asked me to do the cover to his newest book, Princess in Exile, a long while ago.

I'm ashamed to admit, it took me forever to work on it, because as I read the book and was flooded with all the fantastic sci-fi concepts contained therein (Chris is a fountain of ideas, as one look at his website will attest), I simply couldn't compose one image that I felt represented the story.

When I finally did sit down to sketch it out, I really got in my own way and designed this hugely ambitious cover, comprised of almost half a dozen vignettes, representing moments from the book. I wasn't all that pleased with it--aside from the terror of how I'd actually pull the thing off to completion--but because I had taken so long to show Chris something I sent it off to him anyway.

His reaction was polite but mixed--I could tell that it wasn't really what he wanted, and a few weeks passed before we discussed it in detail. Then, out of the blue, this other cover idea--pretty much exactly what you see here--popped into my head, almost entirely fully formed.

Not only would it easier to complete, but it was a lot closer to the old school style 70s/80s paperback look that Chris told me he wanted in the first place--mostly text with one small element from the book (in this case, a wooden sword the main character wields). I sent this version off to him, and just minutes later he told this was it!

He made a couple of small suggestions which I implemented, and all of a sudden a project that had become a tedious slog did a u-turn. Now we were both happy--Chris got the cover he wanted, and I was able to deliver on the promise I had made.