Last week I shared part one of an interview with Annah Wootten, the artist responsible for the incredible cover art to my first novel, The Fey Man. This week I asked Annah how she went about creating the cover, what it was like to work with me (poor thing), as well as what she hopes future covers might feature!
I discovered your work through another dragon in stained glass piece; what led you to create that?
Well, originally I’d modeled a 3d character of a medieval style girl, and I wanted to put an interesting scene around her before I rendered it.
For some inspiration I glanced at my bookshelf and saw one of Stephen Donaldson’s books A Daughter of Regals, which is essentially about a line of leaders/kings who have the ability to turn into mythical creatures. Anyway, [spoiler] the protagonist’s creature is a dragon, and I thought it would be cool to have my model representing the girl, and a stained glass window representing her transformation into dragon.
Can you tell us a little bit about how you went about creating this cover?
I roughed out a sketch based on the description of a dragon and an island, and once that was approved, I brought it into Adobe illustrator where I created the outlines for the stained glass. That was then brought into photoshop where I painted each piece of glass. The wall is a mixture of photo manipulation and painting. I wanted it to look quite realistic so I used some stock imagery to help create that.
How do you go about turning a vague commission (such as mine) into a piece of art? How do you fill in the gaps?
Kind of hard that one. How do you know how to ride a bike? When I read a description (however brief or detailed) my imagination usually provides me with an image. Sometimes it’s not as easy as that though and I have to doodle my way through it, but I always rough out a few different ideas before deciding on the composition I like.
What was the hardest thing about this cover (aside from dealing with me)?
Heheh, well… I suppose the hardest part is turning the sketch into a stained glass outline of itself and keeping as much of the detail as possible. Since I’ve never made a real stained glass window myself (something I plan to rectify at some point) I’m never sure whether the end result is entirely realistic, so I might be taking a few artistic liberties!
What do you hope the future covers for this series will involve?
More dragons?! (hehe) Or some really cool fairies/creatures/characters. Making stained glass images is a nice change to what I usually paint, so even if I had to do a brick wall it would be.. well, maybe not fun, but at least different!
What advice can you give to authors regarding their covers?
Try not to tell the artist exactly how it should look; if you give the artist a bit of freedom to be expressive, the cover usually turns out better!
What’s your favourite book cover?
For covers I’ve done, yours! (It was refreshingly different to do) and The Fire and the Light by Tracy A.Akers as it was my first proper cover.
Otherwise, I love my Chronicles of Amber cover, probably because it’s done by one of my long time favorite artists: John Howe. And that should really extend to the ones he did on most of my Robin Hobb books too :)