Attack of the Cybermen

20 March 2009

As I needed to wait to get the DVDs of 'The Rescue' and 'The Romans' before I could complete their covers, I moved straight from finishing the E-Space Trilogy to doing 'Attack of the Cybermen', for which images could be found more readily than for the two Hartnell stories. This one started with the photo of the Doctor as I had previously earmarked this pose as a likely contender for my cover and knew the DWM Complete Sixth Doctor had printed a nice full-page version that I could scan and shrink for a clean, crisp image. The only tricky bit here was cutting out his hair - curse the Bakers and their untidy curly locks!

An early choice was to divide the cover into two vertical panels with Earth one side and Telos the other, aligned to create a central planetary circle. I was possibly subconsciously influenced by Alister Pearson's jacket for the Virgin reprint of the Target book, although looking at it again now, after my cover has been completed (see here), I see he has featured only one planet and no comet, contrary to my recollection. I began by searching the web for images of the Earth and quickly found most tended to focus on the Americas, whereas I was keen to have the UK clearly visible, given the setting of the story. I then came across John Walker's handy Earth and Moon viewer which allowed me to produce an image of the Earth in the position and lighting I wanted. The only downside to this was its presentation of clouds obscured much of the land masses I wanted to show, so I selected an image with no clouds and added these from an alpha channel created from a downloaded photo of the Earth that had clouds in a more amenable position. For Telos I also struck lucky. I had planned to create this from scratch myself, but then chanced upon an excellent Photoshop plug-in from Flaming Pear called Lunar Cell. This allows you to create custom planets, setting all sorts of factors such as colour, sea level, land texture, clouds and atmosphere. So I used this to create my image of Telos, giving it large, cratered ice caps, as it must be a cold place to give rise to the Cryons, and sandy coloured equatorial land to match the location filming. Also from Flaming Pear I downloaded the Glitterato plug-in for creating space scapes and produced separate backgrounds for the two globes to reinforce the impression that they're different planets. Finally I took some dramatic licence in creating Halley's Comet, having it streak towards the Earth (it's actually aimed at London), creating a bow wave as it enters the atmosphere - call it an illustration of what the Cybermen would like to happen.

After that it was a case of finding two 'enemy' images to go either side of the Doctor. Although the Cryons aren't strictly speaking bad guys, they're pretty indifferent to the Doctor and are the only other alien-looking characters in the story. It seemed sensible to have her on the Telos side of the image, leaving the Cybercontroller on the Earth side (although he doesn't personally visit Earth in the story, it is the focal point for his dastardly plot), and I was pleased to find pictures of each holding Cyber weapons for added symmetry. Finally, given the title of the story, I figured lots of Cybermen were a must. In my initial mock-up of the cover I'd managed to fit three either side of the Doctor, but I'd used just one Cyberman and duplicated him. When it came to using several images for the final composition, two each side seemed less of a squeeze. The Cyberleader and lieutenant on the right were actually one photo, so that was simple, and it was nice to get the black Cyberman in on the other side. A little tedious cutting out around all those ear handles, though.

Download the final ATTACK OF THE CYBERMEN cover here

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