The Making Of

I post images all the time of completed works, but never really talk about the technical aspects of making the image. Sometimes an image can appear to be quite simple, when a lot went into making it. Other times a complex looking image was very simple to do.

In the making of Shadow Soldier, I had drawn the silhouette of a military figure in vector format, and then was looking for the right setting to place him into. I am always trying to think like a storyteller, and how can an image help tell a story. What kinds of stories are being told and the characters that might be needed is always something I’m paying attention to. The suspense genre is popular, and I love making images for this category of literature.

Vector illustration of a man in military gear.

I had originally been thinking of a night scene. Maybe a forest or barren landscape, but when browsing through my photo library, I spotted one of a darkened corridor of a brick building. A narrative instantly popped into my head. The image had some problems I would have to overcome in order to make it work. Mainly that it was in landscape format and had unwanted elements (either side) of the composition.

Dark brick corridor photo.

I wanted the figure placed towards the back of the corridor. Needing room for copy space, I couldn’t just crop out the sides and get to the right vertical dimensions needed for a book cover. I would have to ‘invent’ some of the top and bottom of the scene; make up the cement of the sidewalk and bricks of the building.

I took several hours to come up with a convincing recreation of the building to fit the correct format. I also wanted to simplify the fencing seen in the background by the window so the background of the soldier wouldn’t distract the eye. I used quite a few different brushes to try to match the wall on the left side in the background.

Then playing around with colours, curves, textures, and such, I arrived at a the following image which has a strong narrative and would be perfect for a thriller, suspense, or historical novel.

Photo composite illustration of a soldier in the shadows of a brick archway.

What is the narrative in your mind when you see the finished image?

On Thinking Like A Book Cover

I split my photography between photos for the wall decor industry and the book publishing one. When shooting for book covers, I need to adjust my thinking quite a bit from that of the fine art or decor market, which is more concerned with producing a pictorial image that can enhance a living space.

For the book cover market, I am looking for the story, or the potential story. There are times when the two can overlap, but I usually put myself into a different frame of mind for covers. Since I like a good mystery or suspense story, I often try to think in terms of that genre when out shooting. The resulting images often have a bit of a dark undertone to them. Like this bison skull, below. It has a clear bullet hole in the head. Overall the image tells a story that could be successfully used on the cover for a variety of stories, besides the stereotypical western genre.

A bison skull with a large gunshot wound.

The image below of the old fashioned workshop, could be used on the cover of a suspense novel. Perhaps a story about a mass murderer, or the disappearance of an important person. But it could just as easily be about the breakdown of a marriage. The loss of a grandparent, or a story set in the past. What about a story about a seemingly idyllic neighbourhood with a dark secret. Is it the caretaker?

An old farm workshop with antique tools.

Even seemingly random subjects can make great book covers. I would never have thought when I snapped a photo of our cat on the fence with a specialty camera set up that it would end up the cover of James Patterson novel, but it did.

The silhouette of a cat sitting on a fence.
James Patterson Book Cover

The book cover industry engages my creativity and imagination and allows me to become a bit of a storyteller in seeking out and composing my images. It’s a job I truly love.

You can view my portfolio’s of images for licensing on Arcangel Images and Millennium Images.