Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Vampire Earth Book 1, Enter The Wolf

Greg Manchess


Finally got a chance to work with Matthew Kalamidas over at The Science Fiction Book Club. This one’s wild: alien vampires attacking earth, with a Road Warrior vibe, across a post-apocalyptic Iowa landscape. Gas station and/or grain elevators in background. ‘Can you work-in some attacking ships?’ 

Thumbnails first. Here’s the first set. Two pages exploring possible compositions, elements, lighting conditions. Composition always comes first for me. You name the elements, I can place them. But nothing interesting happens until the composition is built.


Starting with the figure silhouette, I then toyed with a jerry-rigged car as a middle-ground element, developing the body language of the main, semi-paramilitary, leathered-up hero. Worked on just the right movement. But should he be standing confident or middle of action? Burning gas station? Need the alien ships, so I gave that a shot as well.


I showed these to Matthew so I could find out if I was on the right trail. With a few suggestions to follow one of the thumbs and give the figure more movement, I proceeded to show him two more developed, larger sketches.


They decided to go with A above, the more reserved-but-ready pose, as there would be a set of three books and we’d ramp up the action on the cover as the series continued. Matthew also specified more accurate costuming for the main character: longer hair, no balaclava, no headset, add duster, more military clothing. Don’t forget: add ships in the background.

I piled on some clothing and shot reference to work from to get the layers right and gave Matthew this final sketch. Dang... I forgot the ships.


Got the go-ahead, with a request for the ships in the sky. No problem. Started painting. Elapsed time: 10 hours. Finished late at night...and forgot the freakin' ships anyway.


Next morning, I showed Matthew and he loved it, but had a request: please put in the ships. One forehead slap and a little more time, and the ships were in.....and fun to paint. Looking forward to Book 2!

(Main photograph at top: Gamma One, NYC....those guys are dead. on.)

19 comments:

  1. Greg, are the actually colors closer to the first or last image? I actually like the warm/cool relationship in the last image better than the cool on cool of the first, but my screen may be off too I suppose.

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    1. I was thinking the same thing about the colors. I can 'feel' the scene better in the last picture, it feels a little less lively in the top one, but both are great, don't get me wrong.

      I am amazed at the speed with which you painted this. I'm so slow it's ridiculous at times, but I know a lot of that comes with practice and familiarity with forms. Thanks for the shot in the arm, gotta work for what I want.

      Always a pleasure to see your process!

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  2. Very nice! Love the muted tones and harsh light from the left ... 'into the unknown / outcome to be decided' type of effect. The camo of the pants is gorgeous!!! The gas station becomes a ship all on its own. Just brilliant!

    However ... only 10 hours - that is extremely humbling.

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  3. Great cover! Love the design of this one.

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  4. Greg-
    You might have a broken link to a couple of your jpegs

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  5. Hey, that turned out well! It was so fun to see your sketches @ the workshop. I dig the colors!

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  6. Thanks, all!

    The last shot is my quick blast to show the AD. The color is juiced up a tad. I think the client will likely saturate the image when it goes on press, so better to be a little dull at this stage, to compensate.

    It's a tough thing to estimate.....while I paint, and even after, when it's shot. Fine line. For this one, I bet it picks up more color on press, so it should come out juuuuuuust right. : D

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  8. 'put in the ships!' lol, this could be the start of a new internet meme. i can see it already...

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  9. Awesome cover, Greg! Great to see you doing some full-on Sci Fi. And those thumbnails, MAN! Great and inspiring stuff! Looking forward to seeing the rest.

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  10. Great!
    The final sketch could easily have been the cover too (other than the 'no ships')!
    I actually like the subtle light swoosh coming off his head in the sketch.
    You thoroughly worked everything out before beginning the painting.

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  11. Haha "Finished late at night...and forgot the freakin' ships anyway." Great piece anyhow, i love it. THose pants with their big raw stains and yet having debth- a lot to learn from you by just observing a singe trouser leg!

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  12. Very inspiring and eye opening at the same time. I am amazed at what you are able to accomplish in ten hours compared to what I accomplish in ten hours....I have a lot to learn still. Nice work Greg!

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  13. The art makes me want to buy the book regardless of subject matter. lol What size is the painting?

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  14. thanks for sharing.

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  15. Hi Greg, can i ask how you deal with the title placement in book covers, any kind of sub composition guideline? Thank you very much

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  16. The sketches were fascinating. Thanks for posting these.

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  17. (And I kind of wish the spaceships had remained forgotten, as they appear nowhere in the text.)

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