Galaxy Ascendant 3 Cover Art Update, & a Brief Artistic Journey Through the Series so Far

My Galaxy Ascendant 3: A Shifting Alliance indiegogo campaign is gradually moving along, and today, I wanted to give a quick update on the cover art for the book, and to talk a bit about the amazing book covers the series has had so far, courtesy of the awesome John Zeleznik.

First, the latest update on the cover art for A Shifting Alliance:A Shifting Alliance color sketch

This is the color sketch, with the final artwork to come soon. For reference, here is the color sketch of the cover art for book 1 in the series, A Greater Duty, which depicts two of the series’ main characters, Executor Darkclaw and Grand Admiral Nayasar Khariah, compared to the final piece.

Everything will be crisper, sharper, and additional details will be added.

Now, let’s talk a bit about what I wanted when I first started to think about commissioning cover art for the series.

First, I had to decide what sort of covers I wanted, and whether I was willing to pay real money for them. Since I believe in doing something the right way if you’re going to do it at all, I knew I’d never be satisfied with a cheap, stock image generated cover, even if it was nicely put together. People do in fact judge books by their cover, and you don’t want to look lazy. On the contrary, you want your books to stand out, draw interest, and reflect the type of product you’re selling.

This is why I also knew I wanted characters on the covers. I’ve seen so, so many space opera and military sci-fi books that, while they have pretty covers, are all very same-y, with a spaceship or two flying, shooting, or both. They give the reader a sense of genre and action, but nothing else, and they quickly become hard to tell apart.

I’ve also always loved the classic Star Wars posters, which displayed characters as a means of letting the audience know what they’d be getting. And I’m sure you can see how they inspired the covers in the Galaxy Ascendant series.

I did realize, however, that at least at this point, mine would have to be a bit simpler for reasons of cost and to make everything look ideal both in person and online, with small thumbnail images. I also knew I wanted a slightly more retro look as opposed to the more, for lack of a better term, digital looking art that is more prominent now.

So, I knew what I wanted, more or less, and now I had to find an artist whose art style would fit what I was looking for, took private commissions, and had prices I could manage.

So, I turned to a game I have been a fan of for almost 20 years, Magic: The Gathering. The art in the game has historically been top-notch, and there have been many, many artists that have worked on the game, conveniently listed online. And through this search, I found John Zeleznik, who had done only a handful of card arts for the game (why only  few, I have no idea why), but the art of his I had seen were pieces I remembered well, such as the art for the classic Phyrexian Negator and for Dimir House Guard.

His style looked like what I wanted, and he did both science fiction and fantasy artwork, and his website said he took commissions. So I sent an email, and 4 book covers later (so far), I think we can safely say it worked out. 🙂

It’s been a great pleasure to see my characters, all of which, for those that might’ve forgotten, are aliens, brought to life, and the cover art has, to some degree, influenced how things look in the books themselves, at least as far as the characters are concerned (though, of course, it is all primarily based on what I have already created in the books.) One thing I would point out, as a piece of advice for writers, is to not over-obsess on 100% book to cover accuracy. If you need any evidence that books can do great, and have well-liked covers while not reflecting the characters well at all, just take a look at the cover art for the Wheel of Time series. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t give any guidance, but so long as it’s pretty much what you pictured (if I had to state a percentage, I’d say 80% book accurate), you’re golden. If reflects what’s inside the book, and allows your artist to be creative himself, which makes it more fun for him, and will lead to a better product. Remember, the primary job of a cover is to sell the book, and great artists tend to have a good eye for what looks good. 😉

Don’t have too much more to add here, just wanted to get out a couple quick thoughts on the series’s art so far. Expect similar style covers going forward, though with some new developments along the way. For example, the cover art for A Shifting Alliance is more “action-y” than the previous two covers, and I have some very cool stuff planned for the covers of books 4 & 5!

And before we’re done here, I’m going to share the artwork for both A Looming Shadow, which depicts First Scion Dalcon Oresh and Admiral Felivas Kharitzon, and my most recent release, the epic fantasy novel The Dragon Hand, which depicts the book’s main character, the dragon Serivak, in a battle inspired by a scene at the end of the book. Why? Because I can, and it’s gorgeous stuff.

Be sure to check out John’s artwork on his website linked above, and on his official Facebook page! He has some great original art available for sale currently, and, of course, he does take commissions.

I’ll have more to say about the A Shifting Alliance cover art itself once it’s done, and, of course, don’t forget to back the indiegogo for A Shifting Alliance!

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