THE MAKING OF "STARSHIP HUNTERS", BOOK COVER 1

Here's a new book cover I did for Michal Burns' Sci-Fi trilogy, Starship Hunters. 
This is the first book in the series and I'm currently working on the two other ones to follow. The story is an exciting and unusual premiss for a Sci-Fi series, in that it is a large, all female driven cast. Serious intergalactic Girl Power! 
I had already illustrated several short stories for Michael, on Nikki Finke's blog - Hollywood Dementia, I encourage you to look those up! However,  this is an actual Sci-Fi book cover . It seems to me that most contemporary Sci-Fi covers contains of ONE character, ONE spaceship, or less - and a REALLY LARGE TITLE. I wanted to do something different. 


Here's a little step-by-step in reverse, showing how we arrived at this final result. Before I painted the final cover I made a finished painting in black and white. I already knew this was going to be a very action driven image and I wanted to experiment with really bold and unusual, almost electric colors. So not to loose myself in all that, I did this B/W "underpainting", accurately accounting for all the different details - the battle suits, the pulse riffles, the surroundings and of course, most importantly, the characters described in the book.


At this point, Michael had some suggestions to change the main character Valerie, out front. So I redid her face to more accurately depict his vision of how she should look in the final painting.


Before I could start doing any kind of detailed B/W underpainting, I had to give thought to the battle suits and pulse riffles in terms of design. Here's an early preliminary sketch of the thought-process that went into designing the suits. A lot obviously changed since, but it was a good starting point.


Here's a refined drawing of the final pulse riffle design.


And the initial rough concept design sketch.


Final sketch :
I did two initial sketches for Michael to choose from. I had already pitched him several different ideas on the phone and we settled on this concept, showing all the girls in action. In the novel there are a number of large army-type battle robots, but no matter how I tried to depict it, it was distracting and significantly took attention away from the girls. So in the end I left it out. Bye-bye robot, see you in a later cover (maybe). From here on out it was a matter of creating a more refined sketch, fleshing out the action poses and making it a less chaotic scene.


Alternative sketch :
My other take on the same scene, was to have one of the main characters way out in front. Creating a more traditional foreground, middleground & background sort of image.  As much as I liked this idea, we ended up going the other direction.



More to come soon!

You can get book 1 here: