The Rescue/The Romans

15 March 2009

Despite Doctor Who's success in its first year, one of the cost savings that appears to have been made in the second year was on an on-set photographer. Images from this season and the next seem especially sparse and often concentrate on one particular aspect of each story. Thus for 'The Rescue' there are several posed shots of Vicki and Koquillion to introduce the new companion but little from the rest of the story. 'The Romans' fares worse - even guest star Derek Francis appears in only two rehearsal shots, no publicity photos anywhere. What this often means for my covers is that I'm familiar enough with the few pictures available that I can start devising the composition in my head from a title's announcement, but generally have to wait until its release to be able to grab good quality images from the disc's photo gallery (and to see if there are any shots I've not seen before that might send my imagination off in a new direction).

Thus for 'The Rescue' I quickly decided on Koquillion in the background with the Doctor in front, as usual, and Vicki supporting the injured Bennett (the eighth companion to appear on my covers as it seemed an obvious one to feature her). Originally I intended to use a shot of Barbara and Vicki helping Bennett and merely cut out Babs, but she obscured more of Bennett than I remembered. Fortunately a different and more dynamic photo of Bennett coming through a doorway fitted well with Vicki's pose in that original image so I combined the two, requiring me to paint in some of the front of Vicki's dress. Barbara's presence survives, though, in the hand on Vicki's arm - those are Babs' fingers, originally around Bennett's waist! When it came to the colouring, I had to guess at their costume colours, but knowing I'd be doing Koquillion in green I went with complementary colours so the final cover would have a unified feel.

Going through the various shots of Koquillion available, that one of him facing the camera, while often used, fitted my composition the best. It was a little tedious cutting around all those fronds and frills, but actually the most difficult bit arose when I was colouring him in and found it surprisingly hard to tell how he was holding his club thing. It took a lot of staring at the photo trying to work out what was weapon and what was claw. Then, rather like those magic eye pictures, once my brain had worked out what was what, it seemed quite obvious and I was able to colour the photo to make the distinction clearer. After all that, when I composited the final elements of the illustration, most of his hands were obscured by the foreground elements, so I moved them up closer to his head, reducing some of the empty black of his robes.

For the background I had thought it would be nice to use one of the lovely shots of the rocket set presented in the disc's photo gallery, but knowing most of it would be hidden behind the characters, the cave seemed a better bet, and allowed me to try out some new smoke brushes to create the layer of mist. Finally, pictures of the Doctor from this story seem limited to a couple of shots of him by the cave trap with Ian, neither of which were suitable. So I had to look further afield and decided this shot from (I think) 'The Web Planet', although very familiar, fitted the cover nicely. A little unfortunately, I've used the same shot on the back cover of 'The Dalek Invasion of Earth', which is, of course, the immediately preceding story, but his being in colour here mitigates the repetition I feel.

'The Romans' took longer to compose as there were obviously no nice monster shots to base a cover around. I therefore waited for the disc's release to see what treasures the photo gallery provided before I chose the elements I wanted to include. Nero was a must, of course, but sadly neither of the two photos of him were in the gallery, although the one used by Clayton on the official cover did appear in the making-of documentary. Deciding the one of him playing the lute would be better than this, I knew I'd have to use a scan of a fairly small pic in the DWM Complete First Doctor, which meant I needed to find a way whereby I could keep him fairly small on the cover. That lead to me putting him in a panel of some sort, which came together when I hit on the idea of using a mosaic frame. I did think to draw this from scratch, but when a web image search turned up a good flat photo of a mosaic with the traditional rope border, I knew this would look better than anything I could create. And the interlinking design allowed me to easily reshape it from a square to a rectangle. The DVD did provide a photo of slave trader Sevcheria I'd not seen before, who I decided was villainous enough to appear on the cover, and while Tavius isn't really a bad guy, he fitted between the other two figures nicely.

Having the centre panel left me to decide what to put above and below it. The burning of Rome seemed an obvious candidate for the top section. I couldn't find any decent images of Roman buildings to set fire to, however, so simply reused some flames previously featured on my 'Inferno' cover that fitted the space well. For the bottom panel, the only other significant event from the story I could think of that might work was Ian's shipwreck, but I had no idea quite how I'd achieve it. In the event, some lucky image finds - all sourced from the internet, so thanks to the anonymous owners of the originals - led to what I think is the most successful section of the cover and my most successful piece of composition in a long while. Click here to see the full sea scene and the elements that went into its creation, after some careful colour and lighting matching. I'm really rather pleased with the result and hope it'll lead me to being a bit more creatively adventurous in future covers.

In fact, as I needed to wait to get this boxset before I could complete the covers, I pushed ahead with my 'Attack of the Cybermen' cover, so that's all done and includes some more non-Who-photo based elements, although this time courtesy of a handy Photoshop plug-in I discovered. But more on that next week after I've given 'The Romans' it's time on the home page (although users of my Mac OS X Dashboard Widget should keep an eye out for a sneak preview in this coming week).

Download the final THE RESCUE cover here and THE ROMANS here

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