Spawn of Dyscrasia Cover
- Cover Concept (you are here): This first post covers the goal & concept art
- Cover Art (link): The second post chronicles the interactions with master fantasy artist Ken Kelly (from rough sketches to final painting) to yield the key illustration
- Cover Design (link) : The last covers the actual design (title placing, masking of the illustration, and overlaid fire)
1) Character PortraitsWhereas its predecessor Lords of Dyscrasia (2011) is a set of narrative tales stressing plot & action with varying points of view, Spawn of Dyscrasia (2014) follows the development of a single character, Seer Helen. The sequel's cover had to embody this new emphasis on characterization, so an appropriate portraiture composition was targeted. It may seem strange to intentionally pose characters passively on the cover, but there are plenty of precedents. For example, Larry Elmore did this effectively with the original Dragon Lance trilogy (authored by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, including: Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Dragons of Winter Night, and Dragons of Spring Dawning). Also, Frank Frazetta did this effectively with his Deathdealer character:
These portraits promise books with developed characters...without showing any action. Ken Kelly has many of these, like his Death's End and Rogue's illustrations (the latter was the cover to the first Horseclan's book by Robert Adams). In Spawn of Dyscrasia, the character Helen does not develop in isolation; rather she teams with the protagonist from the first book, the skeletal Lord Lysis (who is featured on the cover of Lords of Dyscrasia). Hence, Ken Kelly's "Rogues" stood out as a good example of what I wanted: a female and male duo portrayed against a fiery scene.
I reached out to Ken Kelly via his website's commission section. In short, pricing depends on the canvas size and amount of detail; other factors to be arranged are timing and who owns the original. Here is a snippet from his commission page:
"Fees start at $750. for a single figure, oil painted on 10x14" illustration board with a very simple background. Fees rise from there depending on what needs to be added and size of original." (copied 2013 from Ken Kelly's commission webpage)
After arranging the commission for two key figures (which prompted a 22"x28" canvas), I sent him the concept art of the two characters to be placed in a similar composition in his Rogues piece.
Lord Lysis Concept ArtI had drawn Lysis many times already for the illustrated Lords of Dyscrasia, so it was easy to assemble a board to describe his undead state and unique sword, Ferrus Eviscamir. I also scoured Ken Kelly's vast gallery of oil paintings to identify what Lysis may look like from a painting already made by Ken; Path of Fright worked well for this, since Ken painted some eerie skeletal gargoyles.
Helen Concept Art:
Helen had been written about well enough in the draft transcript, but I had never drawn her. Some internet browsing followed by Photoshopping (namely color inversion) enabled a concept board. Another search of Ken Kelly's library led me to his KISS Girl #5 pencil. Here Ken's experience painting for the band KISS worked well (he has painted their albums and guitars), since Helen required a tribal tattoo around her left eye. Helen is not the KISS girl, but referencing her was useful.