Today we have a guest post from designer Scott Hale who has worked with Christina on multiple projects. In this post he will discuss his thought process and the steps he went through to create the art work for the cover of Christina’s new book, Time Blade.
When Christina asked me to write about the process I went through to create the cover art for her upcoming novel, Time Blade, I jumped at the opportunity. Christina and I have enjoyed a creative collaboration for several years and I strongly believe that this most recent project couldn’t have happened were it not for the many, many hours we have spent creating together.
Cover art for “Written In Ruberah”
The cover art began, as it always does for us, with a conversation. Christina is a very visual person and she described the concept of her new work using very descriptive language. Key phrases and words she used that sparked my visual imagination where “cycles of time, radiating blades, midnight blue and abstract.”
Because this book is part of a series, we knew from the beginning we wanted the cover to relate to the first book, Written in Ruberah. The cover art for that book set up a circular theme, which works well with the idea of cycles of time, so I knew this book would also use the idea of a central focal point that radiated outward.
I began researching moments of powerful change and quickly came upon a supernova. “A supernova is a stellar explosion that briefly outshines an entire galaxy, radiating as much energy as the Sun is expected to emit over its entire life span, before fading from view over several weeks or months.”
Visually, a supernova is stunning, creating a full spectrum of colors which often appear circular as the energy radiates outward from the center. Upon sharing the idea of using a supernova as a visual reference I was stunned to learn that Christina’s novel actually began with the death of Miron, a planet wiped out by a supernova. Perfect!
However, one of my design considerations was to keep the cover imagery abstract so the viewer could interpret it a variety of ways. Simply putting a supernova on the cover would be far too literal. So I continued researching. I think the actual phrase I Googled was “energy that radiates in a circle” which quickly led me to visual references of the Tesla coil.
“A Tesla coil is an electrical resonant transformer circuit invented by Nikola Tesla around 1891. Tesla used these coils to conduct innovative experiments in electrical lighting, phosphorescence, X-ray generation, high frequency alternating current phenomena, electrotherapy, and the transmission of electrical energy without wires.”
I started layering images of Tesla coils electrical energy over supernova explosions and the results were visually interesting, with variations in color and texture, while still being predominately midnight blue, another of my design objectives. Now the viewer would see an abstract representation of a powerful change occurring, such as time being sliced or cut.
The design for the radiating blades came from a discussion with Christina about avoiding the genre of knights in armor wielding swords. Christina was clear that the cutting of time was not a singular event and should not be represented as such. This caused me to design a very simple blade which when overlapped and radiated outward from a central point became a rather beautiful abstract shape itself. The blades were layered over the supernova and Tesla coil electricity and I knew I had something interesting.
This lead me to one of the most important choices for any book cover—choosing the font for the title. Having worked with Christina many times before I knew her personal esthetic towards clean lines and minimalism. I also was aware of how easy it would be to choose a font that would be genre specific (ie. Game of Thrones, Lord of The Rings, or any novel featuring vampires) and lead the viewer down the wrong path.
I needed a font that was crisp and clean, sharp and modern without being trendy. I tried several different fonts and even alternate titles suggested by Christina. One font I found early on, called Cirrus, had several characteristics I was looking for. It was clean and modern and had sharp edges, but at the same time it lacked the visual weight I needed. Finally I came across Broadband, a font I had used multiple times before but had never considered for this project because when in lower case it was totally wrong. However, when used in all uppercase it had everything I was looking for minus two small enhancements; I added points to the crossbars of the “E” in the word time and the “B” in blade.
Because of the nature of publishing it is entirely possible changes will be made to the cover before it goes to press, but as of right now, this is the finished cover for Time Blade: Age of Jeweled Intelligence.