23 January 2011

My heart sank a little at the prospect of doing a cover illustration for 'Meglos', not because of the story itself -- while it's no classic it's far from the worst Doctor Who story ever in my book -- but because I knew I'd have to do not one but two cutouts of Tom and his curly locks, one with added cactus thorns sprouting all over. Then it got worse as I wanted to include General Grugger too, even though I'd be faced with cutting out his furry hat. All very fiddly and time consuming. Not only that, but I had to colour a black-and-white photo of Grugger as I had no suitable colour shots of him. Indeed, I was disappointed at the paucity of images in the DVD's photo gallery -- I had hoped we might get some previously unseen shots, as often happens, but for once there were several familiar photos missing from the gallery.

With my main figures selected I had to decide how to arrange them. I initially thought of having the Doctor and Meglos on either side with Grugger between, even though I would have had to flip Meglos to face the right way. But with the only usable shots of Grugger having him pointing his gun to the right, I really had to go with him on the left, which arguably strengthened the sense of his being unsure which Doctor was which. In fact, that shot of the Doctor is actually Meglos but was the only photo of Tom without cactus make-up I could find from the story. Handily the press release the BBC issued when they launched the Classic Doctor Who YouTube channel included a lovely high-res shot of cactus-Tom, but he was looking into the camera, which I wasn't keen on so replaced his head with a different shot. I also had to hide the obvious edges of his cactus gloves.

For the background I had two choices: the Tigellan jungle or Zolfa-Thuran Screens. Having recently done a jungle background for 'The Creature From the Pit' I didn't fancy creating another so soon, and was also aware this cover would be sitting next to 'Full Circle' on the shelf, which had a woodland backdrop. So the Screens it was, although I had to wait to get the DVD and take a screengrab of them. To make it a little more dramatic I wanted to have the Dodecahedron illuminating them, so having positioned the Screens in a suitable desert setting, I darkened the whole scene before adding lighting effects to the centre and spreading out between the Screens. The Dodecahedron itself was adapted from the outline I'd created for the Conscience Machine for my 'Keys of Marinus' cover.

Download the final MEGLOS cover here

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