A peek at the preliminary rough sketches for this cover illustration for another novel in L.E. Modesitt, Jr.'s continuing series for Tor Books, Assassin's Price. In talking to one of my classes this past week, the discussion delved into what art directors like to see in cover sketches.
One of the main points I called out in this exchange was the difference between providing varying concepts as a solution in contrast to varying compositions. A concept, in this context, is the narrative and symbolic elements and the inferred meaning between them all. A Composition is the two dimensional graphic layout and solution in arranging the various elements together.
Concept is not composition and vise versa.
These sketches build upon a concept tying them all together, that of spilled coins, yet each drawing displays varying degrees of change within that concept as well as modifications to the overall compositional delivery of the message.
There is no right nor wrong way to provide options to the art directors and editors, either through a singular concept revised with varying compositions, or unique concepts and compositions engaged for each sketch. Regardless, I attempt to provide at least three sketches as potential solutions to each commission.
Below is another set of sketches for a just released novel, Firebrand, from author Kristen Britain with DAW books. Here we have three varying concepts, with two of the lower compositions using similar design solutions. Each offers choice for the art director with a varied interpretation of the narratives from the novel.
Lastly, the final cover art and type treatment to Assassin's Price and Firebrand.