The Trial of a Time Lord

12 October 2008

I started the basis for this cover way back in the early summer after having finished 'The Invisible Enemy' and thus many of my decisions were based on not knowing at that point whether the eventual DVD release would be in one box or several. For the latter option, there's always the temptation to do a single image split across however many covers are needed, so that they form one composition when placed next to each other. I quickly decided, however, that a) no one really lines their DVDs up like that, b) the irregular shape of my cover illustrations, with the logo slicing across the top left corner, doesn't really lend itself to a continuous picture, and c) for consistency of style I'd need the Sixth Doctor on each cover, so a 'full' composition with three or four Colins would have looked odd. I therefore decided to go with a single arrangement with an area that would change according to the story. This had the benefit of working for a single boxset cover or several if, as happened, the discs were released in multiple boxes.

My first idea, then, was to replicate the courtroom scene, with the Doctor and Valeyard facing each other on either side of the cover, perhaps with the Inquisitor in the centre, and above them the Matrix screen on which I could put individual illustrations for the evidence segments or an overall story illustration as necessary. This didn't really fit the space, so my second attempt was as you now see, with the Doctor and his persecutors lined up as the Time Lords' tractor beam sweeps around them, containing the evidence for the trial. Sorta. I was able to work on the main foreground figures and then just had to wait to hear in what format the story would be released.

Once I learned the set was to be four discs in separate boxes (personally I'd have preferred a single fat box, like 'Lost in Time'), I began work on differentiating the four covers. I was originally just going to have the beam in a different colour for each story. 'Mysterious Planet' has always suggested blue to me for some reason, but then both 'Mindwarp' and 'Vervoids' felt green because of the colour of their monsters. So I decided to do a gradient, rather than a flat colour, allowing the green to spread across both middle covers. To get from blue to green across the first two produced an aquamarine that I felt suited 'Mindwarp' and its watery setting. For the second colour on 'Vervoids' I decided a pinkish red picked up on the monsters' design and suited having Professor Lasky in her pink poncho on that side; this then gave the Master a nice evil red hue on the 'Ultimate Foe' cover while returning to the blue I'd started with on 'Mysterious Planet' tied Glitz to his initial appearance there. So I ended up with an element of continuity across the covers after all.

The final decision was what to call them. The overall title was a given, but I knew I'd need some subtitles to differentiate the four covers on the shelf. But should I use the (contentious) segment titles, episode numbers or just call them volumes 1-4? I even considered labelling them The Prosecution 1 and 2, The Defence and the Verdict! In the end I went with the 'working' titles because they were being used on the discs themselves (particularly the making-ofs) and most fans know them even if they don't agree with them.

Download the final TRIAL OF A TIME LORD covers here

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