Remembrance of the Daleks - remastered

6 September 2009

'Remembrance' has been one of the few covers of mine I've been waiting some time for an excuse to revamp. As my very first DVD cover, it carried a lot of weight in setting up the template and style of illustration, and some aspects inevitably changed as I developed the covers in those early days. That said, the main thing I really wanted to redo was the photo of the Doctor. At the time the best copy I could find was in DWM, which was a slightly low-contrast image with very noticeable print screening. Subsequently my cleaning up of the image was a little rough (see below). My Photoshop knowledge and skills have come on since then, and I was sure I had come across a better quality copy of the image, so I was quite pleased when the re-release of this story was announced. Doing a new cover to reflect the different extras on the new disc would be the opportunity I wanted to remaster the illustration.

Nothing's ever simple, of course. Having thought all I wanted to do was have a fresh go at the photo of the Doctor, when I dug out my files for the original cover and had a close look there were several other elements I knew I could now do better. In the event, the only bits unchanged are the three Daleks on the front (and even then I tided up their cut-out edges in a couple of places). The hexagons they sit in, the background depicting the end of Skaro and the coloured streaks are all completely redone.

Then I came to look at the Doctor... While I was sure I'd seen a better copy of that image, all I could find in my archive was indeed better print quality but smaller, so not a big improvement once scanned to the right size. So I had a second go at touching up the original photo scan, but was still unhappy with the results. The picture was just too grainy and my smoothing just made it look too obviously manipulated, particularly around the face. I considered using a different shot altogether, but the only copies I could find were on the original disc's old-style photo gallery and at Tragical History Tour but neither were of high enough quality (although I used the latter on the back cover in the end). Thus I decided I'd wait until I bought the new disc (I'm happy to double-dip for the new extras and improved picture remastering, but I'd rather wait until the disc's a bit cheaper) and see if there was a more usuable copy of either shot in the photo gallery.

Enter James Lyons, a loyal cover user who, having read about my decision on the VJ blog, very kindly took the initiative and time to take a screengrab from the new disc for me. While the image was still a bit low constrast and soft (it's set in the junkyard and, I suspect, taken through a haze of smoke), it was a much better starting point and I was able to make a decent (I trust) go at cleaning it up.

Or so I thought. In preparing the above illustration of the different iterations of the photo, for the first time I actually compared my second go at cleaning up the original scan with what I thought was my final image based on James's screengrab. I think I'd got in my head that the former was so bad the latter was bound to be better, but in fact, despite the grain, the scan still has much more detail, particularly around his scarf and hatband. So in the end I've gone with a mix of both 2009 attempts - the scan with the grab on top at 25% to leach out some of the graininess without losing too much detail.

All that remained was to update the text for the back cover and redo the back images (I always regretted that huge picture of Gilmore). I also reset the title on the front. At the start of the range I thought it would be nice to sell the returning villains by having 'Daleks' really big. But when I tried it for subsequent Dalek story releases I'd gone off the idea and split the titles more evenly, as I've done here. Oh, and I dropped the swooping Dalek shuttle - a bit too cutesy, I decided. Sorry if you liked it. I hope you agree the finished cover is an improvement on the original. Don't go expecting me to start redoing all my early covers, though. There are a couple I wouldn't mind a similar excuse to revisit but for the most part I think they stand up well. And besides, I have too many new covers to do as it is!

Download the final REMEMBRANCE OF THE DALEKS cover here

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