Planet of the Spiders

27 April 2011

My starting point for this illustration was Sarah with the queen spider on her back. It's one of those classic images that just sums up the story. While I've already given Sarah one appearance on a cover (The Hand of Fear) and didn't feel Spiders was especially Sarah-centric (although having watched it again it is perhaps one of her better stories), I knew I had a good quality copy of that shot and it shows off the titular spiders well - and having a giant spider crawling up your back is damn creepy! There are a couple of variations on the image and I knew I wanted to use the one of her looking right over her shoulder at the spider, rather than the one on the official cover of her looking upwards, which doesn't have the same impact for me. However, I discovered the latter actually showed off the spider a little better as it was turned more towards the camera. So I did a head swap to get the best of both images, the darkness of Sarah's hair making for an easy-to-hide join.

This image sat naturally in the bottom left corner (I find the official cover's positioning of Sarah on the right, with the Doctor with his back to her, a little awkward), so I knew I'd have to position the Doctor on the right. Initially I wanted to use a different photo to any of him from the same scene, partly because of his mouth pursing in most of the photos, but also to avoid the obvious Target book cover similarities. But none of the other available shots of the Doctor seemed to fit as well and, as Peter Brookes proved 35 years ago, this combination just works so well (even despite the glow supposedly 'lifting' the Doctor above the main image). It was also the image I had the best copy of, so that settled it.

Having featured a spider, I also wanted to get Lupton on my cover, as the main villain of the story (and hardly ever featured on others' covers). As the bottom of the cover was taken, I settled on a two-horizontal-panels arrangement, with Lupton shooting his spider-lightning across the upper panel. For once my memory let me down a little, as I was sure the shot of him with arm outstretched was more side-on and pointing to the left, so I anticipated the lightning stretching across the cover (behind the title). But when I did my picture research I found that, of course, he was pointing forward. This still worked, however. The photo was black-and-white, though, so needed colouring, and then some blue highlights adding once I'd added the sparks.

Having divided the composition in two, I needed a way to delineate the panels. When this DVD release was announced, I'd anticipated a possible use for some cobwebs on the cover and had searched online for some good cobwebby brushes. So when I needed to separate the two scenes of my cover I thought this would provide a good framing device. I then just needed some background images, and the DVD gallery handily provided shots of the empty study and cellar sets, to the latter of which I added some further spiders.

Download the final PLANET OF THE SPIDERS cover here

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