Nixies and Book 1 Giveaway

January 11, 2012

As production for Book V, the conclusion of the Temple of the Exploding Head trilogy comes to an end and we move on to the League of Elder Second Series, I’m in the mood for giving.

I love giving.

Carol Phillips has the cover lettered, James Barnes, the driving force at Loconeal, just about has the PDF ready (“Stop using TAB, Ren! Everywhere I look, TAB, TAB, TAB!) So, the curtain is about to fall on the Temple Trilogy. The LoE Second Series is just around the Corner.

With that in mind, it’s time for a giveway.

A “Nixie” is an artistic change that appears on a cover of a book or magazine that is inconsistent with the continuity of the story. Other people might use different names for them, but I use Nixie. You see them a lot on comic book covers–you know, where the villian looks different on the cover than he or she does in the body of the story–usually much more bulked-up, possibly wearing a different costume. They’re there to make the composition of the cover more interesting to the eye regardless if they’re accurate to the story itself or not.

And, we’re no different. We do Nixies when needed. Do `em all the time.

Book I Cover with Nixies

Take a look at the cover for Book I. There are two obvious Nixies on the cover–we put them there because we thought they were cool and made for an interesting composition, never mind the fact that the story doesn’t quite work out that way.

So, to the first two people who can correctly guess one or both Nixies on the cover to Book I, I’ll mail them out a signed hardback copy of Book I along with a few cool extras.

Good Luck

Bowl Naked


copyright 2012, Ren Garcia

TOTEH Artists: Eve Ventrue

January 6, 2012

Eve Ventrue

About two years ago, I received word of a young, budding talent in the art world and that I should attempt to secure her services if at all possible.

“She’s great!” the person said.

The name of the young artist in question is Eve Ventrue.

It seems like a long time ago that I first went into her website and marvelled at the gallery of amazing portraits on display. I sent her an email, and I wondered if she would reply–artists often-times don’t. But the next day I had an email sitting in my box written in halting English from Eve.

Since then Eve has been a steady force in the LoE universe, contributing many pics and has been instrumental in defining the look of several characters I’ve dreamed up. I still remember her as a shy young lady lacking only in confidence. Being a German, her English also wasn’t the best and I sometimes had to guess at what she was saying, but, since then Eve has become not only a trusted artist that I can rely on for creating stunning pieces of art, but a dear friend. I’ve watched her grow not only as an artist, but as a person as well (and her English has improved too).

I recently asked Eve a few questions about art and the artistic process.

What is your greatest influence? What artist(s) do you admire most??:

Eve: I admire lots of artists and I like modern digital art as well as the good old Classicism and traditional painters – therfore I would mention William Adolphe Bouguerau, Zdzisław Beksiński, Luis Royo and Kekai Kotaki.

Eve helped define the look of Kay, the Main Character in TOTEH

Eve has a great interest in gaming and gaming artwork–her gallery of portraits had “The Gaming Look” to them. I was hoping to tap into that energy. Eve’s amazing vision helped create the look of several LoE characters, most notably Kay, the main character of the Temple Trilogy. I described him to her as being “Handsome like his father and Beautiful like his mother.” Eve brought him to life as a handsome young man tinged with a beautiful fragility, like a flower.

How many hours a week do you devote to creating digital art?

Eve: Phew, this is difficult. As much as I can, which means about 40 hrs!

What obstacles do you frequently encounter and how do you overcome them?

Eve: The greatest obstacle is me and my self doubts and being short of time. Solving these problems is difficult, but I’ve learned to proceed no matter what, there is no other option, I guess.

This painting of Hannah-Ben Shurlamp is one of my favorite Eve works

There was always a note of shyness with Eve, a hint of tentativeness. I wanted to help bring her out of her shell by giving her challenging pieces of art to work on and allowing her the freedom to use her creativity in any way she chose. Soon there was a new Eve, a bold Eve painting with a madness to match my own.

In your daily life, where do you see inspiration??

Eve: Everywhere. It can be a tree, a rainy day, faces, a film, computer games or photos. Also music is a great inspiration for me!

Eve is a person on the move. She has written a fantasy book entitled The Venatore Legend that I hope she’ll let me translate into English for her some day.

Her amazing artwork was recently given top billing at Fantasy

Behind all the smoke and paint is a beautiful young woman of boundless talent

A Danish design studio has contracted Eve to do their artwork. Awesome, Eve–that’s my girl!!

To see more of Eve’s amazing artwork visit her website at:

And finally, the most important question of all:

If you were to describe Ren Garcia in one word, what would it be???

Eve: Lovely.

copyright 2012, Ren Garcia and Eve Ventrue

Every person should know their limitations, and I know mine–I really, really suck at blurbing. I can write 300,000 word tomes, but God help me if I have to sum the damn thing up in 200 words or less. I go blank. I panic.

So here, for good or for ill is the rough back cover marketing blurb for Book V, The Temple of the Exploding Head. I have no idea if it’s any good or not. Thoughts appreciated.

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia

At last, the cover for Book V, The Temple of the Exploding Head is complete!!

"The Temple of the Exploding Head" by Carol Phillips

Now, for the difficult part–lettering the cover. Creating cover lettering is harder than you might at first think. What looks good, what doesn’t, it’s all very complicated. As The Temple is part of a trilogy, we wanted to keep with the style of the two previous books in terms of font, and general positioning.

The problem with Book V, the title is much longer than the others including spaces and letter kerning it takes up a fair amount of room on the cover. The artwork by Carol Phillips is also the most manic and “In Motion” of the three and we want to be careful not to cover up too much of that beautiful art with words–we certainly can’t cover up the Horned God. Finally, you also have to avoid the gutter and tear-off areas of the perimeter as well, further reducing the usable space to put the letters.

My thought was to place the lettering below the Horned God’s hooves, thereby covering up the mosh pit of worshippers. Carol was appalled and fought to keep them uncovered, besides, the other two books had their lettering in the upper quarter of the cover and Book V needed a similar treatment.

Carol Phillips was able to block-in the lettering at the top of the cover, giving it a similar look to the first two books in the series. The coloration for the lettering should be bold, but not garish–something that pops out but doesn’t detract from the cover. I sort of like the “pop” of the red, but also like the somber black.

As usual, I like to hide my name on the front of the cover–it’s a quirk I have–I hate seeing my name on the cover.

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

Carol Phillips

Carol Phillips is truly amazing. For three years now she’s been cranking out cover and interior art for The League of Elder book series, and I never cease to be amazed at the artwork she produces to match my crazy ideas. Carol is certainly The Queen of the League of Elder.

When we began planning the cover art for Book V: The Temple of the Exploding Head, the clear choice of scene was the Temple itself–it was only natural. The Temple is a rotten place, full of noise and death. A carnal orgy and rave has been going on inside the Temple for ages untold without stop or pause, and the Horned God has presided over it all, ever thirsty for more. As I described the scene to Carol, it was a phantasmagoric ride of cages and skulls and torn flesh, a captured Carahil, a demented Sam and a lonely, outnumbered Kay facing it all alone.

The floor of the Temple was to be where the Worshippers of the Horned God hung out. As I described it to Carol, “bad things” were happening there. I’m uninhibited and Carol’s uninhibited as well and she’s game to tackle anything I throw at her. I figured that, given the complexity and size of the area involved, the worshippers would be tiny in the extreme and all the nastiness I described to her would be nothing more than a curious, stick-figure Mosh Pit.

Carol delivered the art to me today. Stick Figure Mosh Pit?? Guess again, Ren …

What I was looking at was a masterpiece of carnal art, horrific and starkly brutal and all completely clear and richly painted. I marveled at it, but, as I took in the details I quickly realized this viscera and sex fest would never fly and would have to be changed. I mean, I’m pretty fearless about these things, but, I need to give my publisher a bit of a break every now and again.

So, the scene has to change. I emailed Carol and we talked. She’s going to obscure the floor of the Temple in writhing fog, offering only an occasional glimpse as to what is happening within. All in all, I think it’ll add to the drama of the scene.

So, let that be a lesson to me. If I can dream it, Carol can paint it bold and proud.

Bowl Naked

copyright, 2011 Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

CAROL PHILLIPS is working away on the horrific cover to Book V, The Temple of the Exploding Head. It’s coming along quite well with the enhanced lighting adding mood and drama to the scene.

As Carol puts it:

Light and shadow is a really important part of creating mood in a painting. It can take a boring painting and make it look really awesome, or if done incorrectly, can make it look flat and dull. I learned early on it was important to pay attention to your various light sources and always keep them in mind while creating your piece. It is a key point in creating a believable environment, character or creature and can make or break your artwork.

"The Temple of the Exploding Head" by Carol Phillips

Creating an environment from your head can be tough and it can be difficult to keep your light source in mind. A good thing to do, is to mark out the direction of your light source with an arrow (on a separate layer or lightly on your drawing,) to remind you while painting where the light is coming from. It also helps with confusion of multiple light sources. Working from your head you probably wont get things 100% real life accurate but if you keep the light sources in mind it will help to make your work seem possible.

It’s also important to keep in mind if your light is warm light ( fire/ candle) or cool light (could be found out doors). It is especially challenging when working with both cool and warm light sources on a piece like the Temple, but using warm and cool lights can add a lot of drama and interesting colors to a piece.

Look how the warm fire light brings out the depth of the Temple, lighting up the back tiers giving the viewer a hint how wide the Temple is, while the cooler lighting provides a sense of loftiness and imposing height. With the lighting in place, you can see what was previously hidden behind the more prominent tiers of statue and pillars. With the orange light, the Temple looks more unsettled, more wild and dangerous, which is the impression the viewer should be getting. I can only imagine what the scene will look like when the character layers are turned on.

See the difference when only the cool lighting elements are displayed. The Temple looks calm, peaceful even, like a football stadium before the football game starts. Even though the place is festooned with horrific images, the lighting makes it seem at peace. It also loses all of its depth, with the deeper parts of the temple lost in shadow. The Temple seems much taller rather than wide in the cool lighting.

Book V, The Temple of the Exploding Head will be available for purchase November 2011.

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

Book V Cover Update

June 29, 2011

"The Temple of the Exploding Head" by Carol Phillips

The Book V cover is coming along and artist Carol Phillips is ready to start painting which is always fun!

We had a number of challenges to address with this particular cover. First of all–how do we convey the sheer size of the place?? The Temple is a mile long and half a mile wide–that’s a rather large area to say the least. It’s also a thousand feet high and filled with over 100,000 bad guys: the Vatican has nothing on the Temple as far as size goes. To tackle this problem, Carol opted to give the place a slightly more confined, penned-in feel while giving clear indications that there is a lot more Temple than what can be seen at a glance. Also, there’s a constant thunderstorm raging inside the temple, which Carol has boiling up in the heights (I always remember my mother saying to come in from the rain where it’s safe–where no harm can come to you. I wanted it storming on the inside of the Temple as if to say: “It’s NOT safe in here!)

More Designs (Carol Phillips)

I entreated Carol to go over the top on this cover–this is the Temple after all we’ve waited two whole books to get to it and I wanted it to be unabashed in its evil.

Pillar detail (Carol Phillips)

There’s certainly nothing subtle about the Temple. I wanted skulls and leering faces and raging mouths everywhere.

As Carahil has been a usual fixture of the past books, he’s present here in this one as well: can you see him???

I’ve always had a love for the work of Keith Parkinson going way back to my unprincipled D&D days in college and I wanted the cover to be as beautifully creepy as his works used to be (Keith Parkinson’s passing was a great loss for us all)

And then there’s Kay hiding behind a pillar, a fly in this evil ointment. Sort of like when the criminologist comes on in Rocky Horror Picture Show and everybody boos, his presence indicates that the party’s over.

copyright 2011 Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

"The Machine" by Carol Phillips

CAROL PHILLIPS has finished the cover to Book VI, The Machine. It looks wonderful. I’ve tentatively lettered the cover and wanted to share it. I’m certain the lettering and colors will change–just a few musings.

This cover is crawling with a lot of things I’ve always wanted to incorporate in past covers but couldn’t. I love cityscapes. The Book I cover had a cityscape, but that one was the dead city of Metatron. This one is the vibrant, living city of Waam full of the bizarre (like the Princess Marilith vending machine). I also wanted to see Kay, his cousins Sarah and Phillip and Lord Lon–finally from my head to full paint.

The Bondarunga aspect is clear with all the weird-looking buildings and vehicles floating about. The flying statue with the Spectres standing on it is a classic Bondarunga vehicle–and, by the way, you’d never get me to ride on one of those snorting beasts.

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia