Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Guest Post: Artwork

Here's another guest post by Luke Bellmason, as part of our series honoring the recent launch of his novel, The Canterbury Tales, Volume I:

SabaccAs I get closer to the publication of the Canterbury Tales Volume 1 (it’s coming, it’s coming!) I start to bring together all the ideas I’ve been having over the last months about what the cover should look like. I had a few ideas about what I didn’t want the cover to look like; NASA star fields look fantastic, but a lot of sci-fi books all tend to go with that. I wouldn’t mind some starships flying around on the cover, but I can’t draw that well and again, they’re all much of a muchness.
So I went back to another game I had thought up about a year ago. As regular readers may know, The Canterbury Tales is based on a board game I was trying to develop, but it turned into a book instead. It’s quite fitting therefore that the cover and internal artwork for the book comes from another game I was tinkering with – namely a Sabacc card game.
443px-Sabacc-GOIThe Sabacc game is from the Star Wars universe and there’s a few sets of rules out on the web which describe the cards and how they work. The major problem with recreating this game in the real world is that the cards in Sabacc are electronic and can change without warning. The cards actually shuffle themselves in your hand and the only way to stop them doing this is to put them in an interference field on the table, which of course reveals them to your opponents.
I found some images of what the cards might look like in one of the Star Wars comics and decided to develop the visual theme into a whole deck. I managed to make a set and print it out, but playing the game was a lot more complicated than most players could handle, so it got added to the growing pile of abandoned projects.
Until a couple of days ago. As I thought more about the artwork for the book I realised the visual style I’d used for the Sabacc game could easily be adapted for the individual characters. My thinking is that the Merchant, Assassin, etc. are cards in a deck that spacers might carry around with them, much like we have decks of cards knocking about all over the house. These cards replace the King, Queen, Jack of a standard deck – and handily there’s 12 such cards in a deck and 12 characters in The Canterbury Tales.
So here’s the first batch. The Assassin, the Knight, the Merchant and the Smuggler. The colours correspond to the theme I’ve got for each character, although in the print edition I’m going to have to go with black since I can’t afford full colour!

So, can you guess which is the Merchant, the Assassin, the Knight and the Smuggler? These are still early versions, but I’m thinking  about the general visual style and how I can use it in promotional material and to create the ‘branding’ for the book. A good, strong visual image is always useful to make a book stand out from the crowd, but I think the images are a bit too ‘bold’ at the moment and need toning down a bit, maybe with some effects or by printing onto something then photographed. I could even go into printing these out as wall art or screen prints, but I’m getting ahead of myself – I need to finish the damn book before I start getting wrapped up in promotion!

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