The Process of Cover Creation

February 16, 2012

Now that the Temple Trilogy is out in the world, we continue forward with LoE Book VI: The Sands of the Solar Empire. This is always my favorite time as we knock heads and come up with the design of the book. The manuscript is totally done–finished it about a year and a half ago. Of course as I go through the edited copy I’ll, do doubt, make a few changes here and there, but that’s all minor stuff.

It’s time to get the cover of the book going. The Cover creation goes in a very orderly progression, first from my head, then to Carol Phillips, then to sketch and then to paint.

I thought I’d illustrate the process using Book II, The Hazards of the Old Ones as a template.

First I come up with an idea. I usually have several floating around in my head. I then give them to Carol and I let her pick out the ones she’s most interested in painting (you’ve got to keep your artist empowered and excited). In the case of the Hazards, I took a photo of my favorite idea. My wife standing there represents Lt. Kilos, Tweety is Carahil and my house represents the mountains. Usually my ideas are pretty simple and uncluttered–I leave it to Carol to fill up the composition. Note how I imagined the painting from directly behind the characters.

Carol then comes up with a series of simple sketches which get progressively more detailed until we come up with a final sketch. I give Carol a fair amount of freedom and her final product is almost always much more elaborate than what I had initially dreamed up. Note how Carol has tilted Lt. Kilos and Carahil so that you can see their faces, she also sketched the Mountains much differently than I had envisioned them. That’s part of the creative process–things never quite turn out exactly as you originally thought they would.

At this stage of the process being small comes into its own. We don’t have a legal department or a Board of Executives or a line of editors waiting to throw their two-cents in–we do what feels right without having to get it past a committee. What you eventually see, for good or ill, is exactly how we intended it to be.

This is by far the longest part of the process. Carol Phillips usually takes about two and a half months to complete a cover from end to end. I try to leave her alone during this grueling part of the game, but it’s unbearable sometimes–like waiting for Christmas to roll around. Fortunately, Carol has a lot of patience with me. Note: we always choose to make use of a Wrap Cover, one that goes all the we around from the front, across the spine to the back.

We almost always come up with a few extras that we hadn’t thought of at the outset. I sit there and dream something up, pitch it to Carol and then she adds it in. Often times these Nixies don’t jive with the continuity of the story, but we toss them in anyway because we think they look cool. In this example you can see the reflection of Mabs the Cat Goddess in Carahil’s shiny body. That was a late add-in.

Building the cover is always a labor of love, but the end result is always worth it.

Bowl Naked

copyright 2012, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

Lt. Kilos: the Sidekick

November 23, 2011

Lt. Kilos is the consummate sidekick in The League of Elder series. A Brown peasant from the city of Tusck on Onaris, Ki has been at Captain Davage’s side for over thirty years. She’s been a part of every LoE book so far.

"Kay Fights Lt. Kilos in a Bar" by Carol Phillips

As the focus of the League of Elder shifts from Captain Davage and Countess Sygillis to their son, Lord Kabyl and his cousins, it seemed natural to me to send Ki down the line to Kay’s side. There is a comfort factor that comes with Ki, and I wanted her there with Kay. Ki brings a lot to the table, she’s got her massive SK pistol for devastating firepower, she has her infallible Tweeter bird familiar and she has her amazing husband, the mysterious Professor A-to-Z who can find answers to virtually anything.

The problem with Ki is her very nature. She’s loyal, yet she’s skeptical and slow to give her loyalty. She loves being part of a group, yet she generally dislikes people. Additionally, Ki still considers Kay a child. She was his childhood mentor (Kay recalls he had a long-lasting “crush” on Ki), and even now that Kay is a young man she still views him as a child.

With Ki, she can like you, be fond of you and all that, however, she’ll really not respect you much, that’s just how she is.

The key to securing Ki’s services goes back to one of her most basic character traits: Ki is, at her heart, a brawler. She grew up fighting in Tusck, was a wreck in the Marines and was a well-known troublemaker in the bars dotting the Blanchefort village wharf (her association with Lord Blanchefort gave her immunity from the village magsitrate). As such, Ki will never truly give respect until you’ve bounced your fist off her face a couple of times.  Captain Davage challenged her to a fight upon their first meeting in order to gain her respect. Likewise, Countess Sygillis and Ki were in the gym settling their differences constantly after Syg came aboard the Seeker.  So, in order for Kay to win Ki over, it was inevitable that he take her on.

So, in a wharf-side bar, Kay and Ki duked it out, and after it was over, Ki saw Kay in a new light, and, as she did for his father, she stood at his side and entered the Temple of the Exploding Head.

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

"The Cat God Pub" by Carol Phillips

I’ll be attending Millennicon in Cincinnati this weekend, March 18, 19 and 20 with Loconeal Publishing, signing books and promoting the release of Book III, The Dead Held Hands.

One of the things we’ll be doing is a Live Paint. Artist Carol Phillips will be working on this unfinished pic of Lt. Kilos standing in front of the elusive Cat God Pub, via Wi-Fi and a 17 inch monitor. She’ll even take questions via text while she’s working. It should be lots of fun.

Come and see us at Millennicon.

Cincinnati, Ohio

You know you want to …


TOTEH Characters: Lt. Kilos

December 16, 2010

"Kilos of Tusck" by Carol Phillips

KILOS OF TUSCK has been Captain Davage’s best friend and first officer for over thirty years. She has appeared in every League of Elder book so far and is a trusted friend of the House of Blanchefort. Although she claims to hate kids, she is a mentor and caretaker of “Old Dav’s” children and is remarkably kind and patient with them.

She started off as a trouble-prone Marine, consigned to the backwater of the League quelling fights. Kilos was promoted to ship duty aboard the MFV Seeker, where she was to gather information on the captain: Davage, Lord of Blanchefort. Kilos quickly became good friends with the captain, and stayed at his side. She eventually quit the Marines to return home to Tusck, but immediately lamented her decision and returned, only to be inducted into the Stellar Fleet.

Kilos is well-known for her contradictions. She loves being part of a group, yet generally dislikes people she doesn’t know. She loves having friends, yet is extremely difficult to become friends with. She loves her husband, yet enjoys an absentee marriage. And on an on. She still remembers her fist-fights with Sygillis of Blanchefort before they became friends and fondly remarks that “Syg” could really hit for such a tiny squirt.

Lt Kilos, with "Tweeter" sitting on her shoulder, by Bea Matarredona-Garcia

Kilos’ husband is a professor from the University of Tusck, a man known for his ability to find things out. Kilos often uses him to gather obscure information.

Kilos is also friends with the Elemental Spirit Carahil. He often sends her notes and messages in odd places. He once directed her to visit a place called the Cat God Pub in Blanchefort Village. She went there as asked and found the place was a nexus where anything was possible. Kilos returned to the place, only to find an empty building. Kilos lamented losing the Cat God Pub and looks for it always.

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia