The progression of art on The Straits of Galahesh cover
For The Winds of Khalakovo, I was lucky enough that the artist, Adam Paquette, shared with me some of the thumbnail sketches and early incarnations of the artwork for the final cover. I documented that in this post.
Here’s the first image that Todd sent, just a thumbnail, in his words. It seems like more than a thumbnail to me. I’m sure it didn’t take him a ton of time, but it’s way more than I can do. I’m all thumbs when it comes to art. Note the number two in the bottom-right corner. Makes me wonder just how many thumbnails there were…
The second one was when Todd was getting down to business. All the framework was starting to fall into place by this point. He just hadn’t started filling in the color. Note the cool, organic nature of the perch that the two Aramahn are standing on. Todd confessed in a recent interview for Speculate that that was one of the things he really liked about this particular piece. It’s one of my favorite things as well. I love how organic it looks. I used that word, “organic,” when describing the scene to Todd, but I went no further than that. The rest of the inspiration came from him.
I also love how cool the right boot of Nikandr looks as well. I think it’s neat how photorealistic it looks against the raw and unfocused background.
And only the barest framework of the windship is being shown at this point. It’s amazing how much further that progressed.
See how nicely the ship is filling in now? It’s an amazing transformation. There’s so much depth added by the sunlight and the shadows coming in low through the rigging. And note the cool colors that have been added to the clouds and the sky. It really adds a lot of depth and context to the leap Nikandr is making here.
And then we have the finished piece. The Aramahn men standing on the perch have been fleshed out. Nikandr as well. And note how much perspective has been added with the addition of the gulls. It was amazing how much more clarity it lent the ship and the men on the perch.
And finally, we have the cover. Quite a ways from that original thumbnail, isn’t it?
In some ways, I’m sad that more of the art can’t be seen on the cover. But that’s the nature of the beast. The artwork is always covered to some degree. The point is to sell the books, and that takes some combination of marketing and artwork. Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m very pleased with the final cover. I think it grabs the attention, and it gives a strong sense of adventure, which is largely what Night Shade was looking to evoke. Clearly, the cover designer wanted to focus the eye on Nikandr, to give the reader someone to relate to, and I think from that perspective it was a rousing success.