The Twin Dilemma

29 November 2009

My initial concern with doing a cover for 'The Twin Dilemma' was that, given the title, well, you have to include the twins somewhere, don't you? But not only do I focus on the bad guys for my covers (acting ability notwithstanding), I didn't really want that pair of dweebs taking centre stage. So I began to think about graphical ways I could include them without being too prominent. My mind turned to the model of the Jacondan solar system in the story and I thought I could use that, or rather a graphical representation of it, as a background within which to feature the twins in the two planets circling Mestor in the Jacondan sun. That left the foreground to the Doctor, of course, and probably Azmael, if I could find a decent photo of him - okay, he turns out to be a good guy but he's presented as a villain initially.

Next came selecting the photos. The Doctor is scanned from the front cover of DWM #91 (August 1984) - the magazine didn't have the best colour reproduction back then but it was a good size that I reckoned I could work on, after painting out some bits of text overlapping his arm. I thought using a grab of the same shot from the DVD's photo gallery might help here, hence my earlier request (thanks to Andi and Christopher for taking the trouble to send me screengrabs). The alternative shot I sought was in case Colin's elbows took up too much room. In the event these grabs were too blurry at the size I needed them to be used themselves and I had to do some careful cloning of the Doctor's left cuff to paint over the text instead (tricky with those stripes!). As with my 'Enlightenment' cover, however, the grab was useful for amending the colours of the magazine scan.

I had long ago earmarked a good-quality full body photo of Mestor in Adrian Rigelsford's 'The Doctors: 30 Years of Time Travel' book for use here but in the event only needed a facial close-up. I did consider the more front-on image I eventually put on the back, but ended up going with my original choice. DWM's preview of the DVD in issue 412 provided a good body shot of Azmael - I think the first I had ever come across (I'd previously only seen black-and-white photos of him), although Tragical History Tour then had loads from the DVD gallery. I replaced his head with a close-up from the gallery, though, so he was looking in the right direction and for better detail. By now I was thinking of having three foreground figures, so I also checked out shots of Jacondans. A good photo of Drak (unless it's Noma) pointing his gun was cut off across his chest and arm, so I had to paint in the rest of his arm and fill in the body from another image of a different Jacondan. This wasn't as good quality but works in context, I think.

I began, however, with the background. I usually do a mock-up of the cover first, using rough cut-outs of the raw images to work out who goes where and make sure everything fits and sits comfortably together. It was at this stage that I decided rather than just having circles to represent the Jacondan system, with the photos in them, I would use the Lunar Cell plug-in I'd bought for my 'Attack of the Cybermen' cover to create more realistic planets over which I could lay the photos of Mestor and the twins. At this point artistic licence began to take hold. If I remember rightly, Mestor's plan is to crash Jaconda and another planet into the sun to create the explosion to scatter his eggs. I figured a bright sun image would be hard to overlay Mestor on, so I decided to make it a planet and have the twins in two moons circling it - or, ultimately, crashing into it! Probably doesn't quite match the plot of the story, but makes the cover more dramatic. Hidden behind the logo of the final cover, but viewable on the clear artwork (see my blog) is a stream of Mestor's eggs, produced by creating a lozenge-shaped brush preset then setting it to a wide scatter and size and angle jitter.

And so the sixth Doctor covers come to an end - maybe. If rumours of a re-release of 'Vengeance on Varos' come true, I'll almost certainly do a remastered cover for that, as I did with 'Remembrance of the Daleks'. For the same reasons 2Entertain are revisiting early releases to improve the quality, I know I can now do better versions of some of my earliest covers. I probably wouldn't change the designs significantly, just redo the cleaning up of images, some from better originals I've found since I created the covers. I think of the sixth Doctor stories, 'Varos' is the only one I'd like to revisit if and when it gets an upgrade.

Download the final TWIN DILEMMA cover here

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