Thursday, September 18, 2014

Guest Post: Rashieq Sasman on Designing the Cover of Betrayal's Shadow

Hey everyone!

Yep, I'm busy getting myself psyched up for the epic event coming up in a couple of hours - yep, that's the Open Book Festival event tonight. :-) I'll be at the Fugard Theatre, and chatting with Marius Du Plessis (my publisher), Mike Carey and Raymond E. Feist (both of whom need no introduction). :-)

But before the event, I thought it was time to get the guy behind my incredible cover onto the blog. :-)

So folks, here's Rashieq Sasman:

 "Betrayal’s Shadow" - Cover Art Process

It was a slow couple of weeks before I got the opportunity to create the book cover for Betrayal’s Shadow. I needed something though, so I took the leap of faith and contacted Fox and Raven Publishers. I never expected them to reply, and I REALLY never expected them to actually have the one thing I was looking for – an opportunity to create the cover for an amazing epic fantasy novel.

I’d never forget the excitement I felt upon reading the brief. This was the kind of work I lived for. The genre was epic fantasy, akin to Lord of the Rings. The subject matter was a beautiful palace with the fortified qualities of a castle. 

A structure that protectively loomed over the city. 

I knew I had to make this epic and had to be like nothing I've done before. I began researching different types of castles and palaces. I researched what kind of stone would be used with a certain kind of castle, as well as which parts of the world they would originate from. 

Even though this was all fantasy, it had to be based on reality in some way, to make it believable in a sense. Immediately ideas started forming and taking the place of my thoughts and worries. There were so many, but I knew I had to filter it. I knew I had to stay loyal to the brief as much as possible.  

After hours of researching and sketching, I eventually sent them (Fox and Raven) the concepts. There were three. Three concepts completely different from each other, but shared the same qualities the brief had asked for. 

Dave, the author of Betrayal’s Shadow, was the one to give me feedback. He seemed to have liked certain parts of each concept. He told me to take these ideas and mash them together. So that’s what I did.

This was when things got really exciting and where the real work started. I now knew how I wanted the end product to look. I had a very clear picture. No more rough sketches, concepts or drafts. This was it. I began by creating the perfect brush set for myself, one that would be best suited for the style I was going for. It was rough and often hard edged. 

Yet, because of the scale, I was able to give it a lot of detail.  I knew I wanted it to be dark, but also vibrant. And I think the sky helped to achieve that. The painting of the city was probably the most challenging part of the entire process, as I went almost directly into the residence and painted people, little bricks on the houses and other details you would usually miss from a distance. I made sure there was a starting point for the eye, so it would take you on a journey through the city leading up to the castle, and eventually you’d step back and see the entire artwork.

After some final touches with editing and messing around with lighting and textures, the final artwork eventually turned out the way I envisioned it…

 A painting, a city, and a book cover with a vast story tell.

Dave here again. :-) It goes without saying that Rashieq will be doing the covers for book 2 and book 3. The man is a LEGEND, and I'm so happy with his work! I'm sure you agree. :-)


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