Day of the Daleks

10 February 2009

I always planned to use the classic shot of the three Daleks for this cover as it's just so iconic -- why try to fix what ain't broken? So with the Doctor and, I hoped, a shot of the Controller as the other main villain of the story, the content for this cover was quick to decide. What needed thought was the composition.

With that shot of the Daleks being a landscape arrangement, I did initially ponder having them in a narrow, full-width panel. But I felt making the panel too narrow would restrict the Daleks' size and therefore impact, and potentially leave an awkward space between the two lower figures. So I decided on the U shape to give particularly the central gold Dalek more prominence. This required the two flanking Daleks to be closer to the centre, so rather than using the photo as was, as I originally expected, I had to cut out each Dalek so I could reposition them. Doing this I noticed the one on the left had misaligned top and bottom halves in the original photo, so I was able to separate those too and recombine them more precisely. I had thought there might be room for an Ogron or two lurking behind the Daleks, but this tighter than anticipated arrangement didn't need them -- a shame, but one was included on my Frontier in Space cover at least.

For the U shape itself I wanted something metallic and shiny, so found a photo of some crumpled tin foil and recoloured it gold to match the chief Dalek. For the background I needed something simple as not much would be showing, but always prefer something 'physical', rather than an amorphous texture. I decided on brickwork to represent the tunnels where the guerillas jump centuries, also suggested in the inverted arch of the U shape.

The Controller I had to compose from screengrabs as none of the few colour photos of him was suitable. These were separate head a body shots -- a close-up for the former to maximise facial detail, and a mid-shot for the latter. Hopefully I've combined them realistically. In fact, the Doctor had a head-swap too. I wasn't sure what image of him to use at first as I didn't have any great quality shots of him from this story. Most of those of him facing off against a Dalek have him half hidden behind the metal meany, and often the harsh sidelight creates unappealing shadows on his face. I did consider using the publicity shot of him against a wall as Daleks come round the corner (which I eventually used on the back cover), although the low angle didn't complement the images of the Controller I was able to get, even though it worked quite well against the Dalek background. In the end I came across a hi-res copy of one of the Dalek face-off shots which meant I could get his face in good detail, so I opted to match this to a better body shot where only the tips of his left-hand fingers were obscured, of which I had a large if soft copy in an old DWM that I could scan.

Download the final DAY OF THE DALEKS cover here

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