Image of the Fendahl

6 May 2009

Sometimes the trick to getting a cover to work is knowing when to stop. For 'Image of the Fendahl' my wishlist of elements kept growing and the result, I think, is perhaps too cluttered. The problem began because I really wanted to use the shot of Adam and Thea as I liked the sense of threat in it, with Adam gripping Thea while looking over his shoulder at some unseen thing (okay, in the story he's just heard a scream, but it looks like he's looking at something). Of course, most of the decent images from this story are of the Fendahl Core and the Fendahleen, so their use was practically a given. But as you know, I've chosen to focus on the bad guys in my cover illustrations, and Adam and Thea are good guys. So I really needed to feature Fendelman too, except he's not the true villain of the piece, that's Max Stael. So I ended up with four human characters, two forms of the monster and, of course, the Doctor to squeeze onto the cover. Oh, and possibly a skull if there was room! Aware this was a lot, but thinking it would give me a chance to try some new composition ideas, I decided to plough on.

With all those elements, my aim was to try to do something in the style of classic film posters like 'Star Wars' and 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'. I hoped to have the Core as the focus, towards the top right, and then position the other characters in a sweep down the left-hand side, bringing the eye round to the Doctor in the bottom right corner, with the skull in the centre anchoring them all. A paper sketch showed the idea had promise, but when I came to rough it out in Photoshop I couldn't get the photos I had to sit right without looking like floating heads, a style I'm really not keen on. I also found there wasn't really any comfortable space for the title to go. I tried moving each of the elements around, but nothing was working for me.

I then thought to use the pentangle as an anchoring device and, although it meant another element to include, this did seem to help. It pulled the Core to the centre and allowed me to fit the human characters in the bottom left corner without having to paint in too much extra of their bodies and balancing the Doctor on the right. This still left the Fendahleen and story title somewhat squeezed in at the top but was the best arrangement I'd hit upon. I had to use screengrabs for Fendelman and Stael, which always take a lot of work to even out the video noise and colour, and in this case to match the feel of the photo of Adam and Thea. Fendelman had to be flipped, which I generally try to avoid but isn't too noticeable here (eagle-eyed readers will notice his breast pocket is on the wrong side); Max is a composite of two shots as a frame of him holding up the gun, which I wanted to use to ensure the gun wasn't obscured, ended just above his elbow, so I combined it with an earlier frame of a mid-shot. The end result is a bit busy, but I think just about works.

Download the final IMAGE OF THE FENDAHL cover here

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