September 12, 2016

New A Dance of Dragons Covers and a Peek Behind the Cover Design Curtain!!

I am SOOOOO excited to finally share the brand new covers for A Dance of Dragons with all of you! Keeping this a secret for months has been SO DIFFICULT! Over the summer, I worked with an amazing artist named Shane Sandulak who brought Rhen and Jinji to life in some epic new illustrated covers for the three full-length novels in the series! 

Why?

Well...why not? :) 

But in all honestly, I have dreamed about having beautiful illustrated fantasy covers for this series ever since I first began writing it, but I never followed through. I wasn't sure what the process would be like, if an artist would be able to bring the characters in my head to life, what the cost would be like, whether illustrations were the way to go with YA fantasy. And then this summer, I just decided to go for it! 

While I've always loved the covers for the novellas, there's always been something about the covers for the novels that just didn't work. But I'm happy to say that now these covers are perfect! Now, they're just as EPIC as I always hoped! 

So I won't make you wait any longer! 

    

Gorgeous, right?! 

Just wait 'til you see the full paperback wrap-arounds ;)

But before we get to that, I first want to introduce the man who brought my characters to life in a way I never thought possible--Shane Sandulak! 

When I finally decided to take the plunge and hire an artist, I went straight to DeviantArt and posted a job listing, hoping and praying just one great artist would respond. To my surprise, I got nearly a hundred responses! I was thrilled! And there were so many amazing artists to choose from, but in the end, Shane's work spoke to me! His art is bright and colorful and full of movement and emotion and feeling--and I knew it was perfect! I highly encourage all of you to check out his DeviantArt page, because you'll instantly know what I mean!

And I couldn't be happier that Shane agreed to work with me! Not only is his art stunning, but he was a dream to work with! I was so nervous to hire an artist and was so scared that no artist would understand the vision in my head, but Shane not only got my ideas, he enhanced them and made them better than I ever dreamed! 

Okay, okay, no more delaying! Here are the full covers for each book...sooooo pretty!!)




And here's a little more about Shane in his own words!

"Shane Sandulak is a native of the frozen northern tundra most people call Canada and he still lives and works in British Columbia. He works as an illustrator for books, comics, board games and various other works of whimsy.  Working digitally with a Cintiq, Photoshop, and Manga Studio to help himself and others take those mind pictures and toss them onto a canvas for all to see."

Now, normally I would end a cover reveal post about four paragraphs ago... :) But I thought this process was so incredibly interesting and fun that I wanted to share a little more of it with you! So here's a little behind the scenes look at bringing an illustrated cover to life, using the new cover for The Shadow Soul as our example! 

A Peek Behind the Cover Design Curtain

Step One: Find and hire a totally awesome artist (check!)

Okay, okay, I'll be serious...maybe. 

When Shane and I first started working together, I gave him a huge list of character descriptions, a breakdown of setting descriptions, a few rough ideas I had for each of the three covers, and copies of my books for him to use for inspiration. I really wanted him to understand my characters, my world, and the mood of my books. So toward that goal, it was really important to me that he read a little bit of The Shadow Soul, and actually, his willingness to do so was one of the reasons I hired him (aside from the gorgeous art, of course!). A bunch of the artists who responded to my job posting refused to read even a chapter of the book, saying it was not part of their process and was not worth their time, but Shane understood that it was important to me, and I so appreciated that!

So anyway, after I gave him all of that, he mulled over it for a few days, and then the design process really began! The first step was his sending me some sketches of rough ideas for the cover. 

  

I was immediately drawn to the sketch with Jinji looking out toward the viewer, but (me being me) I asked to see a few more options for the dragons. Shane obliged, sending along these extra sketches for me to choose from. 


Obviously, the artist knew best! I loved the original layout of that sketch, so we decided to move forward to the next stage with that design. And the next stage was a line drawing! Basically, Shane tightened up the sketch, added more details, and, much to my joy, was having so much fun that he sent a copy with a little bit of color detailing too!

 

After making a few slight adjustments to the line drawing, we moved onto the next stage, which was the first color pass! 


Everything was perfect to me, so Shane kept working and sent along a tentative finished illustration.


After reviewing the finished design, we decided to tweak a few small things like the color of the castle and a highlight in Jinji's eye. And then the design was done! Shane sent me this finished file in a high resolution and then we moved onto the next cover!


After we finished designing all three covers, I took Shane's finished illustrations and added the typography! Voila! Finished cover, ready for uploading and revealing :)


I hope you guys enjoyed this look behind the curtain! And more than anything, I hope you enjoy the new covers!! 

Personally, I can't wait for my new paperbacks to arrive so I can display these beauties on my shelf!! 

As always, thanks for reading :)



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