Today we are looking at the amazing covers of both Lee C. Conley and Susana Imaginário, in the fourth instalment in this series.
Lee C. Conley – Ritual of Bone and Ritual of Flesh
The Cover Design Process
I used two different artists for The Dead Sagas covers and the process was slightly different with each. My approach to covers is a little different to most as I do my own design work, cover layouts and typography as I am lucky to have experience in graphic design. This allows me to use different artists but still keep the same over-arcing design themes and typography to link the aesthetics of different books into the series.
The artist I worked with on A Ritual of Bone was called Cloud Quinot, who has a background in doing artwork and concept design for computer game development. I was previously a fan of his work after stumbling across his stuff on DeviantArt. I like Cloud’s dark themes and amazing artwork, some of which was already zombie orientated. So I knew he could be good to work with. I approached him via his website and he agreed to work on the art for my debut book cover.
The process itself was fairly simple. I sent him some sample passages and gave him a brief of what I had in mind. I did give him a fair amount of freedom over style and content. He came back to me with a basic concept sketch and I could see where he was going with it and we went with it. I did ask him to make a few changes to details, in particular to the armour. The resulting piece of artwork is fantastic, very much a blend of his style inspired by my work. There were however some inconsistencies between my book and his final art, for example the zombies appear mutated with spikes, which are cool but do not feature the text. Another was the plate armour depicted and the almost futuristic helmet, which again are not in line with the text. Despite those elements I was really happy with the piece, it is freaking awesome! So I ran with it. The rule of cool prevailed. Some inconsistency was to be expected considering the amount of creative freedom I gave him. Then once I had the final piece, I was able to work my design magic, adding the previously designed series typography and proceeded to construct the layout. Voila, an awesome cover!
The cover for A Ritual of Flesh was quite a different process. I gained some valuable experience from working on A Ritual of Bone and went about the process slightly differently. I used a different artist this time. I really liked the artwork on the covers of a friend, and fellow author, Jamie Edmundson’s We Three and Me series, so I asked him who did the art and he hooked me up with Andrey Vasilchenko. I checked out Andrey’s work and was very impressed. This time I made quite a lengthy brief and again sent him some relevant passages, along with a number of images – from armour, to architecture, and other art – that had a similar feel to what I wanted.
Andrey sent me a number of concept sketches to choose from this time, and I chose to combine two of them into a final concept sketch which he quickly whipped up for me. After I gave the final sketch the green light Andrey got to work and kept me in the loop as he worked with regular updates and glimpses. I found that very helpful to be honest, as we were able to tweak and check everything as he went. Not that it needed much tweaking, as perhaps due to the detailed brief, Andrey completely understood what I envisioned and basically nailed it. The final piece is jaw-droppingly good, it almost felt a shame to add typography and design work. But it was essential, so again I added my design work to tie the two books together into The Dead Sagas series aesthetic.
Two very different processes, two amazing pieces of art, and (in my opinion) two very cool covers as a result. The first required a great deal more trust in the artist one a one shot piece, which did luckily work out great, but it could have been a different story if the art didn’t hit the mark. The second cover was a very carefully and thoroughly briefed piece, in which I had more say in the final selection. Most likely I went that route after learning a lot from my experience on the first one, it really helped me refine how to work with an artist to get exactly what I wanted. I certainly learned a lot along the way and have found a good cover design method. I will be leaning towards the second method I used for A Ritual of Flesh for future books, as it allows me to better capture what I had in mind. I will certainly approach Andrey again for something in the future too. Both artists were great to work with, but had very different approaches.
If I were to give some advice on cover design or choosing an artist or cover designer, it would be make sure you choose someone whos art is phenomenal and whos work you love. Do your research and find someone talented. Then the most important thing is communication and a very thorough brief, that way you are more likely to get what you want and be happy with the results. I absolutely love both covers in the series, and now pressure is on to produce another awesome cover for book 3 – I guess you’ll have to watch this space to see if I can pull it off.
The Dead Sagas
Ritual of Bone
‘Only valour and steel can stand against the rising dead’
Arnar is a land of warriors, its people as stalwart as the stones themselves. In a land of dark forests and ancient hill forts, a forgotten evil is awoken by curious minds.
The Great Histories and the Sagas say nothing of this evil, long passed from the memory of even the studious scholars of the College. For centuries, the scholars of Arnar have kept these records and preserved the knowledge and great deeds of a proud people. The story of these peoples forever chronicled in the Sagas of the Great Histories.
But now the evil spreads and the dead walk in its wake, terrible creatures roam the night and even the spirits are restless. The Dead Sagas could perhaps be the final chapters of these great records.
Many threads entwine to tell this Saga, interweaving the tales of those who played their part in the search for answers and ultimately their fight for survival. Amid plague, invasion and terror, the inexorable rise of the dead sends a kingdom scrabbling to its knees.
This dark fantasy epic combines dark malign horror and gritty survival adventure as the Dead Sagas unfold in a world where honour and renown is all, where beasts and savages lurk in the wilderness, and where sword, axe and shield is all that stands between the living and the grasping hands of the dead.
A Ritual of Flesh
As evil ravages the north and the dead walk, all eyes fall to Arn… The apprentice journeys south, home to the College, unaware of the dark events that transpired in the High Passes after his departure. His leg in ruins, and haunted by watching shadows, the College council in Arn awaits him, but he does not travel south alone.
Arnulf and his warriors must travel to Arn also, with tidings for the king of the risen dead and the terrible curse which has destroyed all that he knew. Arnulf seeks vengeance upon the College, but must choose wisely if he is to save his son.
Meanwhile in the west, Bjorn and his strange Wildman companion report back to High Lord Archeon at Oldstones with grim news of cannibal Stonemen encroaching from the Barrens, but is embroiled in news of war and invasion as Archeon requests his service once more.
In the capital sickness awaits them all, Nym has fled to the city and must now continue her struggle for survival on the plague ridden streets of Arn, keeping all who she cares for safe from the halls of Old Night.
The many threads of this Saga converge on the city of Arn, but amid plague, invasion and terror, a greater darkness is looming. Dark forces are seeking to unleash evil upon Arnar, honour and renown is all, and sword, axe and shield is all that stands between the living and the grasping hands of the dead.
About the Author
Lee is a musician and writer in Lincolnshire, UK. He lives with his wife, Laura, and daughters, Luna, and Anya, in the historic cathedral city of Lincoln. Alongside a lifetime of playing guitar and immersing himself in the study of music and history, Lee is also a practitioner and instructor of historic martial arts and swordsmanship. After writing his successful advanced guitar theory textbook The Guitar Teachers Grimoire, Lee turns his hand to writing fiction. Lee is now studying a degree in creative writing and working on his debut fantasy series The Dead Sagas as well as also generally writing speculative fiction and horror.
If anyone would like to sign up for occasional (once or twice a year) email of news and updates on Lee’s work, with the occasional competition or giveaway too, please sign yourselves up to Lee’s mailing list. Sign up to Lee’s mailing list!
Susana Imaginário – The Timelessness Series: Wyrd Gods, The Dharkan, Nephilim’s Hex
The Cover Design Process
The design process was pretty easy and straightforward. I knew I wanted something abstract and eye-catching, preferably with a black background, red and blue flames clashing and an ouroboros. And that was exactly what DesignforWriters sent me. The original design was larger and flashier, with a lot more sparkle and smoke, but it only took a few revisions to get it to how it looks now. (I don’t like shiny things 😂 )
I wanted a cover that stood out from the shelves and caught people’s attention without giving too much away while expressing the nature of the narrative, which is based on the idea of the eternal return. Wyrd Gods is a book of conflicts, riddles, and reoccurrences.
Wyrd Gods by Susana Imaginário
The God of Time wants to destroy Eternity.
A mysterious immortal seeks vengeance.
And a reclusive deity does what no god should ever do: she answers a prayer.
As punishment, she is stripped of her powers and trapped in a mortal’s body.
Now a Wyrd – a fated god – she is haunted by the memories and thoughts of her host and must hide her true identity in order to survive in Niflheim, the rival Norse Underworld.
There she discovers the afterlife is not quite what it used to be. Niflheim’s new ruler threatens the precarious balance of a world overrun with outcast deities and mortals alike.
To save her own sanity and find her way back to the stars, she must help the other Wyrd overcome their grievances to defeat this enemy, but those who would be her allies appear to have motives as hidden as her fragmented consciousness.
And yet it seems the greatest threat to her freedom comes from within, and the prize it seeks is her immortal soul…
Buy here: mybook.to/WyrdGods
About the Author
Susana Imaginário lives in Ireland with her husband and their extremely spoiled dog.
Her hobbies include reading, playing board games, hanging upside down, daydreaming around ancient ruins, talking to trees and being tired.
Her debut novel, Wyrd Gods, combines mythological fantasy with science fiction and psychology in a strange way.