As you guys already know, I revealed the cover for the third book in the Wings of War series on Wednesday, and since the past couple cover evolution posts I've done have gone over really well, I thought it might be fun to do one for Tempest.
The covers for this series are all fairly special effects-heavy, meaning they require a lot of compositing different images together in order to fit Ember in various environments and craft the element-based wings as a focal point. Karen envisioned a stormy scene for Tempest, with Ember standing amid crashing waves as the water wings flare from her back, so my first order of business was to find a fitting background image.
When I came across this photograph I knew I'd found exactly what I was looking for, with one obvious exception: There was man in a business suit where I needed Ember to be. Removing a figure from an image in Photoshop can be tricky and time consuming depending on the background given you have to fill in what would otherwise be the empty white space left by the figure being removed. Luckily for me, the texture of the sky, water and rocks made his removal fairly easy, and after adding a bit more color and a few stormier clouds, I had Ember's perfect Tempest environment.
Next up was to add Ember herself. Karen and I always want to make sure each cover feels cohesive within the series while still standing out as unique, so with Tempest Karen wanted Ember to be partially turned and looking over her shoulder instead of simply facing forward. Finding a single stock image of a young woman who looked like the previous models we'd used while wearing non-ridiculous clothing (so many of them were in dresses and high heels - not really what one would wear climbing rocks by the sea) and with her head turned to the side proved to be an impossible task, so I needed to combine several different girls and Frankenstein Ember together.
I used the body of the top left figure and the head of the top right, but ran into a little issue given one had straight hair and one curly. Since the girl on the right also had shorter hair than the left, I needed to bring in a third image in order to blend the two and create a fuller head of wavy hair. I also wanted to make sure Ember's hair had movement since she was facing down a stormy, windy sea, so the bottom image proved to be just the ticket.
Obviously the hair color, skin tone, and lighting of all three images is slightly different, so even when I got all the pieces together in a single figure, it was still a bit of a mess visually:
As you can see, the hair is a patchwork of various colors and textures, and her skin is way too warm to be believable in this environment. After a fair number of color tweaks and adjustments, I was able to make Ember look not only like a single person but also more like she belonged on that rocky outcrop.
At this point, the trickiest parts were behind me and I was able to really let myself have fun building the wings. As with Embers and Gaia, I started with just the flat illustration of the wings before adding a base layer water texture to give them a little depth.
From here, I layered various water splashes in all shapes and sizes across the wings, masking the wing shape in a few places so it appears sections here and there are made entirely made of water, but overall they still retain the shape that links them to the previous two books.
The final step was to add in the title, tagline and Karen's name, as well as some additional water spray in and around the rocks to really give this cover a lot of movement, and the result was our final Tempest!
Ember must stop the apocalypse from happening, but at what cost?
The Angels of destruction have arrived, and only Ember stands in the way of their mission to carry out God’s wrath and annihilate His enemies.
When the barrier between celestial creatures and humans beings is broken and Angels descend to Earth, Ember soon learns there’s a fine line between good and evil. As she faces a world full of monsters and magic, a terrifying darkness rises and threatens to destroy everything she’s fighting for.
In the riveting third installment of The Wings of War series, Ember and her friends embark on an epic journey, where unlikely allies are forged and age-old beliefs crumble to dust. And just when Ember accepts love in her life, it’s ripped away from her in the most terrifying way possible.
Tempest releases late January 2016