Time and the Rani27 December 2010
Okay, it's pink. I had thought to give the cover a less obvious colour just to be different from all the other 'Time and the Rani' covers ever done. But this story is just so pink, from the sky to Mel's costume, the bubble traps and even much of the lighting. And once I'd decided on an exterior background for the illustration, the cover's fate was sealed. Pink it would have to be!
The general composition occurred to me while doing my cover for 'The Seeds of Doom', which also had the Doctor centre-stage, surrounded on each side by the story's villain and monster, and with the key setting as a backdrop. I figured this would suit 'Time and the Rani' too and the two would be well separated once on the shelf. Having done a rough layout to check the elements would fit in the positions I wanted, I began with the background. I had to combine two shots of the Rani's base entrance -- one distorted so it lined up with the other -- as both had Tetraps emerging but in different positions, so I was able to use one to mask most of the figures in the other, plus a bit of cloning of rocks. One Tetrap remained but this would be hidden by the Rani in the final composition. So I had a clean shot of the entrance, and DWM provided a good shot of the model of the upper level. I knew from the rough that these wouldn't sit in screen-accurate relation to each other -- I wanted both 'dragon heads' of the entrance visible, which meant this had to be positioned further to the left than the upper level, which I didn't want to be covered by the logo on the final cover -- and the relative perspectives aren't quite right, but it looks okay (I think). Both elements had their original rocky backgrounds and I had thought to merely extend these with photos of quarries and cliff faces sourced from the web. But getting them to match seamlessly was complicated because the patches were much better quality than the actual location/model shots, so I replaced all the scenery. Only the rocks either side of the steps from the entrance and a bit of rock wall behind the right-hand dragon head are 'original'. The image I used for the upper cliff face had a nice clean edge backed by a bright blue sky which was easy to recolour pink, allowing for some cloud texture to remain rather than have a flat pink sky.
The front three figures where then straightforward to cut out and position. I had filled in the background at the bottom with a shot of a gravelly quarry floor, but saved myself some cutting out effort around the hairy Tetrap by retaining the rocky ground he was standing on around his lower half and blending it into the background around his elbows. For my rough I had used a shot of the Rani taken on location but for the final illustration chose to replace it with one taken on the brain-room set, as scanning the photo from DWM would be sharper than using a grab from the DVD's photo gallery. This had heavy red lighting, so I isolated her skin (face, neck and hands) and hair with channel masks to individually give them more natural tones. I had on file (can't remember where from) this high-res shot of Sylvester, but it cropped off his left shoulder and right forearm, so I had to paint and clone those back in. It's noticeable to me as I know where the joins are, but hopefully, once printed, it won't be too obvious.Download the final TIME AND THE RANI cover here