Recent Work

I was recently asked to do a book cover. The client had some ideas and wanted me to reference this wonderful painting originally done for the Ballantine Books edition of Lord of the Rings:

ballantine Books

So I started with rough sketches and we finally agreed on something like this:

pencil v1

The blue line indicates the edges of the cover. The client asked me to free up space in the sky for the book title and get rid of the lizard head in the lower LH corner so they could put their logo down there as well as some other small things… so I got to work.

Here is a shot of the painting in progress:

old version thurs

This isn’t a very good photo but you can see that it is a color version of the drawing above. While it fulfills the original assignment, it just looks a little weak to me. The snake people look OK, but the humans look like a bunch of dorky mannikins… and they are too small. I hated to give up on it, having already invested time in this version, but it just wasn’t working… so, after agonizing over HOW to fix it, I started making clay models of the figures and arranging and rearranging them to try to get what I wanted. I previously tried one of those wooden ‘artist model’ figures but just couldn’t get it to hold a good pose so I went with plasticine clay over wire armatures. I think I got the idea while watching a documentary about the animator Bruce Bickford.

Here is one of the photos I took of the models:


This seems better to me.  The reptile men are practically on top of the humans… the fighter guy with the sword better get chopping or they are going to get eaten!

Using this, I began to work on a new version. It now looks like this (I added a fake title and logo in the corner to get a better idea of what it might look like in use):

book cover cmason 8 2016 72dpi


2 Comments on “Recent Work”

  1. Allan Grohe says:

    Both pics have a nice vibe, Stefan! I agree that the humans in the first picture appear to be more in the middle ground vs. the foreground, so the lizardmen do look much larger than them, but that also didn’t bother me at all. I like the richer reds in the first pic too, although the lizardmen look great in both and really pop!


  2. Dan Domme says:

    I really like the idea of using clay models. I have a really hard time creating realistic depth when drawing, so maybe I could try something like that.

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