Not so long ago J. Scott Coatsworth was a guest on my blog and he did a post about the evolution of the cover of his book. It was a hit! Well today he's arranged for a similar treat! Scott along with August Li, Brandon Witt and Skye Hegyes have a great new anthology Myths Untold: Faery from Wilde City Press. Of course every book needs a cover and this one was designed by the very talented (and incredibly nice) August Li, aka Gus. Gus was kind enough to provide us with some details on how this cover came to be.
Personally I think it's amazing how Gus and other cover artists create these delightful works of art to go with the written word.
Hello everyone, and thanks for having me on the blog today. I’m happy to be here. My name is August (Gus) Li, and I’m here on behalf of my fellow authors J. Scott Coatsworth, Skye Hegyes, and Brandon Witt to talk about the cover art for our anthology, Myths Untold: Faery.
One standard approach to choosing an image for a book cover is to represent one of the main characters. In an anthology containing four novellas, obviously I couldn’t do that, so what we decided was to design a new character—one who doesn’t appear in any of the stories—as a sort of mascot. If you read the book, you might notice bits and pieces of many of the characters, but this particular faerie doesn’t have his own story… at least not yet.
We wanted not just a magical-looking character, but also a somewhat surreal landscape to impart the feeling of being somewhere else, in another world. I don’t want to go too much into boring design details, but one thing I tried to do to achieve that feeling was to frame the cover with the trees and vegetation to create something resembling a portal, a passageway to somewhere else. I also tried to use the light and color to create a setting that wasn’t quite realistic, hopefully a little more magical. My main goal was to impart a mood of mystery and perhaps a little danger, but also enough beauty to lure the curious into this world.
So, here are some progress shots of the cover in development. I’m not going to go into a great deal of technical detail, because that’s pretty boring, and also because a lot of what I do I have figured out on my own to achieve the effects I want, and for all I know I might not be doing it the most effective way.
All of this work is done in Photoshop. The first step is to do the sketch, a basic outline of the figure. Here’s what that looks like. Pretty flat and boring, yeah?
Then I work back to front. That way I can keep creating new layer to place over older layers, and I don’t have to worry about coloring in around anything; I can just place the trees that are nearer right overtop of those in the background. The basic order is sky/light, followed by trees farthest to closest. You can see I haven’t even touched the figure yet. Though I like the results I get from working this way, it’s sometimes hard, because the figure is my favorite aspect to work on.
When I do get to the figure, I keep working in layers, starting with the basic skin tone, followed by skin shading, highlights, hair, hair shading, hair highlights, eyes, and other details. That’s followed by anything that might overlap the figure, in this case the stump he’s leaning, the grasses, and some of the vegetation. So we have:
And then the last step is the title, and voila!
For this project, I also needed to make a back cover, which I’ll share here for those who aren’t planning to pick up a print copy of the book. It’s the same background—another reason to keep all my layers; I didn’t have to start over from scratch—with some new details painted in for added interest. Since this is where the blurb and other information will go, I didn’t want to make it too busy.
That’s about it! If there’s anything else you’re wondering about the cover art, the process, or the book, feel free to comment and ask!
Faeries are part of mythology the world over, past, present, and future. Called elves, brownies, the fae, and more, they evoke a sense of wonder and a little danger. Faery has its own rules, and humans enter at their peril.
In this spirit, we bring you the first book in the Myths Untold anthology series—four stories from the land of the Fae: a homeless man in Cardiff and the luck that could destroy him; the trans man in future San Francisco who falls for an elf; the village boy who has always been a little different; and a faery prince whose birthright was stolen from him.
Welcome to Faery.
The Pwcca and the Persian Boy, by Gus Li
Despite beauty and luck, something about Glyn makes everyone uncomfortable. Homeless on the streets of Cardiff, he has nothing to keep him going but his friendship with Farrokh. Through stealing and fortune’s occasional favor, Glyn keeps them alive. But then homeless youths begin to disappear, and when Farrokh goes missing, Glyn begins to discover the reasons behind both his luck and the way people react to him. Determined to save his friend from a danger he never imagined, he enlists the help of Lleu, who might be an ally, or might be manipulating Glyn to achieve his own goals.
The Other Side of the Chrysalis, by Brandon Witt
In a species that values beauty above all else, Quay looses both his freedom and his birthright as prince of the fairies. Lower than an outcast, he watches over his younger brother, hoping against hope that Xenith’s rebirth will provide safety and positions that has slipped through Quay’s grasp. Though he expected kindness from no one, Quay gradually starts to trust that there is more to life, even for the likes of him, as sexual encounters with Flesser, a fairy barely accepted himself, turn from lust to love. Quay knows having forbidden relationships will be his undoing, but he is powerless to turn away.
Changeling, by Skye Hegyes
With his pointed ears and a tail, Tyler’s always been different than the other children, but until Marsh, a brownie tells him he’s a changeling, he never thought he wasn’t human. Now he will discover what faery life is like, and just how being a changeling could change his life. On the way, his ties with his mother will be pushed and prodded even as his friendships grow and his love life blossoms. However, in a village of God-fearing people, those who are different are spurned and Tyler will discover how much trouble a fledgling changeling can get into.
Through the Veil, by J. Scott Coatsworth
In the not-too-distant future, San Francisco has been swamped by rising sea levels caused by global warming, and has only survived by building a wall to keep the water out of the heart of the City. Colton is a trans man barely getting by on the canals outside the wall. Tris is an elf who has come to the human world on his journey to become a man. Fate brings them together, and everything changes for Colton when he sets out with Tris to find the elf's missing brother, taking Colton behind the Wall for the first time.
Meet the Authors
Welcome to My World