26 March 2011

I was always slightly daunted at the prospect of doing covers for the two Christopher Bailey stories, particularly 'Kinda', as it's the ideas and atmosphere that make them stand out, which is difficult to portray in an illustration. While they have their bad guys (although more by influence rather than being inherently evil) and, of course, use snakes as an iconic image, they feel less suited to the usual montage of characters, requiring something more conceptual. For 'Kinda' I had an idea that seemed at least to be heading that way, but a first attempt at a key element proved disappointing, so I decided to mull on it while I worked on 'Snakedance', arguably a more straightforward adventure than its prequel.

To be honest, contrary to these ideals, the composition for this turned out as a pretty straightforward, even obvious, montage of key figures, similar to previous covers like 'Carnival of Monsters' and 'The Keys of Marinus'. But once I thought to have a crystal in the centre with the snake looming out of it (you could argue that's the conceptual bit!), it immediately suggested segmenting the space around it for the human characters. The pentagon shape gave me five panels: one would obviously be for the Doctor; one for Lon as the key guest 'villain'; I decided Tegan would be better suited to this cover, having a greater role in this story despite being the keystone in 'Kinda'; Ambril was a possibility as the main obstruction to the Doctor in the story, and not often featured on 'Snakedance' covers; while the final segment would probably need to be clear for the title.

Not much changed through the picture-sourcing and mock-up stages. Finding a suitable shot of the Doctor proved the hardest part, mainly because in most of them he was facing right, and I really needed him to face left. Because of featuring the blue crystal in the centre, I wasn't keen on any of the photos taken on the ruins set with him sitting holding the small crystal (for the same reason, I didn't want to use the shot of Lon holding the crystal -- also because it was used on the official cover, Martin Clunes was looking into the camera, and I couldn't find a decent copy of it). But in the end I felt this was the best choice, mainly because his expression suited the tone and the appearance of the snake about to bit his head off!

The DVD photo gallery provided an alternative shot of Lon that worked better for me, but those of Ambril were few and I decided a fourth figure would clutter things too much. So for the smaller bottom segment I decided to use a screengrab of the snake carving, adding in the glowing lines of power. Tegan was also a problem as again there were no suitable shots of her from the story, especially as she needed not to be smiling or looking frightened. In the end I used a shot from 'Mawdryn Undead' with here eyebrows and cheeklines tweaked slightly to give a bit more of a scowl, and eyes replaced with a close-up from 'Terminus' so they had more detail and shine, better suited to turning them red. I also deliberately gave a her a redder face to represent her appearance towards the end of the story.

Final choice was the backgrounds for each of the segments. With the snake carving itself being the focus of the bottom segment, I used a shot of the marketplace behind the Doctor, of the palace lounge for Lon, the ruins for the empty title section, and the entrance to the hall of mirrors for Tegan. This was from the familiar shot with Tanha standing before it, but she proved surprisingly easy to paint out.

Download the final SNAKEDANCE cover here

Return to Updates page