Power Play Book One: The Cover
Hello all, and welcome to our Top2Bottom stop on the Power Play: Resistance virtual release tour! Many folks have commented on the gorgeous artwork we were fortunate enough to snag for this book and its sequel (Power Play: Awakening), and so we asked our cover artist, Imaliea (check her out at http://imaliea.deviantart.com/), if she’d be willing to tell everyone about how the cover was made. Her post is below, and below that, we have the blurb and details on some giveaways, including a classic Nook pre-loaded with six titles from Cat and Rachel!
So without further ado, here’s Imaliea 🙂
Hey all, I hope you enjoy this little foray into my subconscious as I guide you through the process behind the cover for Power Play: Resistance.
It was an interesting challenge from the get-go. Challenge=fun when it comes to art, so I dove in feet first.
To begin with, though I’ve been doing commissions for a while, this was my first ever book cover, and I’d be providing both the painting and the title text. This meant approaching things from a designer viewpoint first, artist viewpoint second. I had to take into account where text might sit, where the spine would start, etc.
It’s a novel in which BDSM is an important theme, and that’s a subject I’m not overly familiar with, so I’d say the biggest hurdle was ensuring I captured the feel of the book even though I was venturing into unknown territory. With this in mind, I decided to focus more on the emotional journey the two characters were going through, and try to bring that out in the cover – without being too obscure.
I started off with several concepts, exploring the emotion and tone of the cover. Fortunately the brief had very specific models in mind, which made it easier when sketching out, though brought with it another interesting challenge of making sure they didn’t look too much like the models.
The last one was the winner, and with that I got stuck into the good stuff. Next step was refining this initial concept, developing the characters a little more. One of the important elements mentioned was a type of cage-like sarcophagus, which I really wanted to work in there somehow. After some thought, I hit upon the idea of building it into his shadow, as I’d used shadows as a visual concept in one of the other drafts.
Now we’re really getting into the fun part. My current painting style (it changes all the time) uses only greyscale tones at first (though I couldn’t resist painting in those blue eyes almost immediately. This let me focus on the important tonal ranges without colour becoming a distraction. I also ended up removing the chains, as it just wasn’t working for the subject matter, looking a bit too prisoner-ish.
For this cover, I really wanted everything to tie in nicely – that includes the title! I’d had the idea to build in some more theme elements into the title itself, and used these to create a frame around the text. For the text itself, since I knew the cover was going to be full of colour, I decided to go with a shiny, metallic effect, so that it would really stand out. I brought those chains back in, too, this time using them as a frame for the whole front cover. You’ll also notice I’ve shrunk both characters slightly to leave more room to the title, this made everything sit just a bit better.
Now for the colour! I started with a wash of tones, after much, much, much consideration and a bit of trial an error. I went with vividly warm reds and oranges, hinting at the passion between the two characters. The blue-ish green tones brought it all into balance. By placing these cool colours behind both characters, I’m subtly hinting at the darker side of things, at the protagonists’ internal struggles and conflicting emotions. Deep, I know. Plus it complements the warm colours nicely.
Here was where I also began building bridges (hehe), including another important element in the book: the Golden Gate Bridge. This being the first bridge I’d ever painted, promised to be quite the challenge as well!
From then on it was a lot of refining and reworking everything. Jonathon (the lovely floating head) had quite the facelift, making him a little more angular overall. This gave him a more mature yet still pretty look, and his expression became less sad and more ‘masterful’, which I felt more appropriate. I’d turned off the title layer so that it wasn’t a distraction, focusing on building the forms and shadows. The colours became brighter, bolder, as well. Details such as skin pores, hair strands, water ripples, and other textures were worked in bit by bit, and the piece began to really come to life.
These next steps were all about developing everything that was there: refining, refining, refining. Funnily enough though, they probably took the longest. I popped the title back in so I could keep in my mind’s eye how the finished product would look. I also played with the colour some more, working to get it juuuust right.
Nearly at the end now – I shifted the bridge over some, shrinking it down in order to fit more detail in. Brandon (the kneeling figure), has had his cuffs painting on, and overall the detail was sharpened and tweaked. Apart from the bridge, I kept the back cover fairly featureless, keeping in mind the text and other detail that was going to need to be placed there. I used varying brushes in Photoshop to add texture and depth, particularly in the background. The colours had a fairly significant jump in brightness, as I battled with several different computer monitors to try and get an accurate reading on colour – tricky task, I assure you!
And here we have it (with a few last minute colour tweaks)…. the finished cover!:
Final thought: It was a truly enjoyable experience to paint this cover (what’s not to love about painting cute guys?), and fortunately the authors loved the end result 😉 I tend to have a very organic way of painting, ideas will spark and things will grow and evolve. It’s a fun and exciting process, so I hope you enjoyed following along!