The Invasion

4 November 2006

At the risk of blowing my own trumpet, I feel I'm getting quite good at this colouring lark. I'm rather pleased with the pic of the Doctor on 'The Invasion', which is perhaps as close to making a colourised mono photo look like a genuine colour one as I'm going to get. I'm resigning myself to having to colourise the covers for all remaining black-and-white releases if I'm to stick with my dislike of simple colour washes - at least over the whole cover. For here, as on 'The Mind Robber', some areas of simpler colouring can work.

As sometimes happens, my initial idea didn't come to fruition. That was for a single picture of a Cyberman bursting out of the sewer, punching the manhole cover into the air, to be composited from those two classic shots we've all seen. My picture research sadly didn't turn up any copies of those photos that I felt would be of the quality needed to have the image filling the whole cover, so I quickly decided to do another of my triptych covers (cf 'Ghost Light'). I intended to do the same dramatised Cyberman image in the bottom panel and got as far as doing a rough composite - see it here - but the area I could give it didn't suit the pose, and the two photos didn't composite as cleanly as I'd hoped. So I resorted to just the single photo of the Cyberman emerging from the manhole. Such compromises don't generally disappoint me; I've found it's better to start with an ambitious idea that may have to be honed down to something realisable that works on the cover, rather than limit oneself to tried and tested arrangements.

The divisions between the three sections of the cover were originally going to be flat white lines to give the impression of comic strip panels, which I thought suited the story nicely. When I tried the wavy lines on a whim, however, I rather liked them, especially once I added some glow and realised they could interact with the main images a little (see the bottom Cyberman's earpieces). They were always going to be at angles, though, and that combined with the high perspective on the sewer Cyberman, plus the fact that the only usable picture of Tobias Vaughn was a straight-on head shot, led me decide on a low perspective for Cyber troops in the top panel to get a progression of perspectives as your eyes move down the cover. Thus I had to hunt out shots of the invading Cybermen from a low angle, of which there turned out to be fewer than I thought I remembered seeing. Luckily I was able to get away with the perspective shifting down a bit as the line of figures diminishes into the distance (knowing, also, that the rear ones would be obscured by the title lettering on the final cover).

So, back to the colourising. Doing the Doctor was a given, as that's part of the design of my covers, but I admit I didn't particularly fancy individually colourising all those Cybermen. And they're only silver anyway. So I reckoned if I had a full-colour central panel of Vaughn I could get away with more stylised colouring on the two Cybermen panels. Hooray! They were to have a simple flat colour wash, but then I picked out the Cybermen by desaturating the colour over them. My instinct, for some reason, was for a blue wash and so to have the background of the final cover blue. But I'd done 'The Mind Robber', the preceding story, in blue so that was out. A military green didn't work for me so I ended up with sepia and a brown cover - suitably gritty I hope.

Oh, and if you're wondering where the obligatory shot of St Paul's Cathedral is, see the Gallery.

Download the final INVASION cover here

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