Tag Archives: DLeoBlack

Silver Serpent Cover

We have a lot of books coming out this year (and next), and we’re still not 100% done with the writing or the art, so it’s always great when we have something in place, don’t you think?

Today, we’re showing off artwork for a new property featuring an old fan favorite.

Silver Serpent essentially shows us the origins of our favorite ranger in green, Steel Tip.  Back then, he’s doesn’t go by the oft-mocked moniker, though.  Instead, he’s the protege of the legendary Silver Serpent, a vigilante who has protected the archipelago of Ippius for generations.

This story fully embraces the superhero feel of the series, so we did some really cool things with our characters.  We were lucky to have our artists, RedPear and DLeoBlack on hand to bring these characters to life.  Above, you’ll see as things are sliding into place.

Here, things are cleaned up a bit more, and we get our first look at the various characters in a more colorful form.  You can see our two de facto heroes on the right side, while monstrous beings like the gargoyle-like creature in back and the man made of water in the front seem to have their sights set on the Silver Serpent and her young pupil.

We took our characters out of the piece in order to clean various things up.  The aurora was given a less clunky feel, while the stones surrounding this lookout point were left a little more weathered.

Moving forward, we added our characters and the fire back into place.  Our gargoyle lost a little weight, the heroes gained a few extra details, and our man made of water is just a little splashier.

Finally, we made one last change.  We weren’t in love with the color of the Silver Serpent’s hair or her pose, so Leo scrapped the whole thing and redid her.  Turned out great!

Silver Serpent will release in September of this year!

Cover Art – Heart of the Forest

Hey there folks!  We are almost all done showing off the covers of the books that we are preparing for this next volume of Tellest books (thanks once again to our awesome Kickstarter backers for getting us the start we needed).

Today, we’re going to begin showing off the finalized covers of our new properties.  In addition to the five books that are serving as sequels, we’ve also got three books that are starting their own storylines.  One of these is a brand new character, but the others star an established character at various points in his life.  We’re going to take a look at one of those two now, so buckle in!

Heart of the Forest stars a younger Steel Tip than what we’ve seen in the Child of the Stars series.  This book—a novelization of an unreleased game—demonstrates the secret prince’s first foray onto mainland Draconis.

Leo started us off with a lot more green than we typically see, except for what we had of Awake.

After establishing a few things, Leo puts a tighter emphasis on some of our characters.

Heart of the Forest feels like a classic fantasy.  There’s a narrative that plays very well into a videogame, and it feels a bit simpler and more concise.  That’s not to say that there won’t be surprises, but it’ll be a book that I think any fantasy reader will be able to get into.

There’s a little more panache put into place in this third iteration of the cover.  You can see much more clearly here that Heart of the Forest has a lot of focus on characters of different races.  We are getting into this a little more in this second set of books, but nothing expresses it so much as this novel.  Leo was up to the task, giving us goblins, werebears, gnolls, lagano and humans.

And here you have our finished take on the piece.  The front cover is more refined, and certain characters have been added.  We lost the lagano that we had in there, but things just felt a little too cluttered. We think it was for the best, but rest assured, the book is going to be jam packed full of more races than you typically get in a Tellest book. It’s going to be a fun little adventure, and I can’t wait to show you more as we draw closer to the release of Heart of the Forest in early 2018!

Cover Art – The Maelstrom

Hey there folks!  Today we’re going to show off the last sequel property we’re bringing you through 2018 (not counting whatever sequels will make their way into the Tales of Tellest, Volume Two short story collection).

The cover for The Maelstrom is one of my absolute favorites.  Leo did a fabulous job making not only a beautiful cover, but helping us come up with an awesome new race of creatures.  Let’s dive right in, and see the process.

So, when we started, Leo knew that The Maelstrom would involve “demons.”  There was more to it than that, of course, but we sometimes have translation issues since we’re on different continents.  So the demons that Leo came up with at first were very traditional.  It was my job to steer him away from that.

In this second shot, you can see that things are cleaned up substantially.  Our demons were supposed to be storm demons—you typically see these infernal type beings that hail from fiery realms, but I wanted to switch things up with this book.  As it stands anyway, our demons look kind of like towering mannequins!

At this point, you can see our cover taking even more shape.  Color was adjusted, a pose was picked for our main character, and the demons, a race of otherworldly beings called the Kin Maelar, really come to life here.

We adjusted the position of the invading demons, and threw a weapon in the leader’s hand.  These guys tower over the surviving elves of Shandranar, but Icarus is ready to face them head on.

Here you see the final take on the cover of this upcoming novel.  The two other characters, Icarus’s father and brother, are fleshed out, and the odds are even less in our hero’s favor!

If you recall, Icarus went through a lot of trouble during the event now known in Tellest’s history as the Fall.  You might have thought the worst was over, but these new invaders are sure to make our beleaguered elf wonder if the worst is truly behind him.

Cover Reveal – Stealing Seramore

Hey folks!

We are on a roll regarding these cover reveals, and we’re hoping to keep it up even more as we go forward.  With that in mind, let’s show you another sequel that’s on the horizon, and the process that we took to get there.

So, Stealing Seramore is the sequel to The Tinker’s Tale, one of our more distant flashback stories.  I’m going to have to really set out to figure out the ages of the Knights of Virtue, but suffice it to say, Richard is our oldest one, and he features prominently in this book.

In any case, the meat of this story takes place back in a time when Maximus and Richard were both somewhat young.  Whereas The Tinker’s Tale was supposed to demonstrate a sort of man vs nature plot, Stealing Seramore embodies an even more distant genre: a heist.

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Part of me almost regrets not going with this cover.  It was gorgeous, and probably would have went over really well.  This title doesn’t come out till 2018, so I might get this picture finished and do my first A/B testing with the public… wouldn’t that be nice?

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This was the variant of the cover we ultimately went with.  The reason we chose this one was that it added a new character to the back instead of showing the two leads twice.  It also put the focus on Maximus and Richard more than the guard who is patrolling in the room with all the cures to the Carbuncle.

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Lickety split, Leo put some glorious touches on the piece that really made it come to life.  In a lot of ways, this is one of the more beautiful works he’s done with us.  The lighting and reflections are stunning, and I love the textures of this temple.

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After that, it was only a few things that needed to be tweaked in order to give it that final touch.  Maximus and Salvatore needed beards, and we got a splash of light on the front cover.

And there you have it—the making of another great Leo cover. We’re so grateful to have such a wonderful relationship with him.  Here’s to dozens more covers to show off over the next few years!

Concept Art – Griffin

We’ve got a kind of weird one for you today, folks.  As you know, Tellest is kind of ultra-high fantasy compared to a lot of other stuff out there.  We’re the 4K HD TVs to the old 720p projection TVs. What I mean by this is that there really is no lack of weird, strange, fantastic things that happen in these books.

Still, we’ve yet to see a single pegasus, chimera or unicorn anywhere in the world.  Sure, we’ve seen golems and dragons and whatnot, but where’s the freaking other creatures?

I honestly don’t have an answer for you, but I will say this: at the very least, pegasi are on their way.  I have had a story brewing for about two years now that will lead into Tellest’s third volume of books (with luck).

And here’s another thing to say: we may not have a story in Tellest to say about our latest concept art, but we still do have a funny anecdote!

griffin-black-and-white

So, the whole point of this griffin here, which we commissioned from Leo, was that we needed a badge to be our “early bird” for the Kickstarter.  At the time, Keota was just a gleam in my eye, so we couldn’t use him.  We came up with the idea of getting a griffin in there.

griffinWithin like three days, Leo had this guy made up, and it’s one of the most gorgeous greek beasts I’ve ever seen.  It definitely makes me want to think of a use for him.  Harry Potter had Buckbeak, and everyone seemed to like him.  You gotta figure a griffin is close enough to a hippogriff to get some love!

griffin-background

We’re very happy with how this little piece of concept art turned out.  We’re hoping to get more mythological and mystical beasts all over the sight in the future!

Art Reveal – Transformed Cover

Hello all!  It’s been an exceptionally long time since we had a cover to show off here, and we’re going to make amends today.

Though we’re still a long way off for Transformed, the sequel to Mageborn, it’s about time we show off the cover.  We’re kind of going out of order here, because Dragonspeaker is the next one that’s up after Lord of Thunder releases in March, but we don’t actually have that cover done yet, so you’ll just have to wait!

Another interesting thing about this cover is that it’s probably the one that went furthest from where we started, out of all the covers we’ve done yet.  Let me show you what I mean.

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One of the more important places in the series is the gardens.  This is one of Gaston’s favorite places, and it’s expanded to become one of Adelia’s favorites too.

In this first attempt at the follow-up cover, you can also see two new characters.

Ultimately, we decided it was a little too bright and cheery.  We asked Leo to see if we could do something darker instead.

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Rather than give up entirely, we made the gardens look a little darker at first.  Our lady in the back looked more like a villain than we were happy with, and we decided to try and start over with a different locale.

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Moving indoors brought us back to the study that Adelia was playing in for the cover of Mageborn.  She’s a little older and more experienced now, so we aged her up a bit.  We also have a back cover now, so we were able to include Gaston and that new character, Lucinda on the back.

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This was just a small change, but we wanted the front and the back to almost be a reflection of one another, so we removed that low wall for the purposes of the art.

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With a splash of color, you can see a little bit more than you did before.  In the book, Lucinda is a frisky lady, and Gaston looks like he’s bit off more than he can chew here.

Meanwhile, Adelia is performing her magic for a familiar character from the first book in the series.

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At this point, the back has taken shape very nicely.  Lucinda, in her purple outfit is torturing poor Gaston with salacious remarks and “bad” touches.

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Finally, here we have the full cover.  On the front, you can see that Adelia is in a more attractive outfit than she wore in Mageborn. She’s starting to come into womanhood (no small part influenced by Lucinda, mind you), and we wanted to reflect that by making her a little easier on the eyes.

She’s also playing around with those butterflies again, only this time, she’s making them out of ice, an element she has an affinity for.

That’s about it for this cover, but we’re not going to make you wait nearly as long for this next one.  It’ll be a teensie little Christmas present!  In the meantime, we’ll just be chugging along, ready to move into this next phase of Tellest as quick as we can.

Cheers!

Art Reveal – Lord of Thunder Cover

Well folks, the time has finally arrived.  It’s time to make things official.

We’re working on a new book.  Yes, yes, I know.  It’s quite a surprise. Actually, it’s “at least” five new books, but we won’t get into that just yet.  Suffice it to say, we’re ready to draw back the curtain on one of these books, and this one will serve as the relative flagship release for our other books in this set.

These five books are going to be sequels to the Tales of Tellest that we Kickstarted two years ago.  As such, we knew we needed a face that was going to be… electrifying… to introduce us to the new stories.

That man is—no, not Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson—Bolt Thunderfury:

Lord of Thunder Front Cover

The protagonist of Son of the Storm, Bolt has already had an awesome story in his life, but he’s got more.  This follow-up, Lord of Thunder, is the tale of how he and a group of ragtag heroes managed to save a group of people from annihilation.  We’ll be getting the full details of the book to you soon, but for now, we’re really excited to show off the beautiful cover that Leo made for it.

Lord of Thunder 1

Here you can see the rough sketch we began with.  Leo knew what we wanted right away, and there was very little that we needed changed from one form to another.  Seeing as this was the initial sketch, you can only tell very basic things, but it’s starting to come together as to what might be causing the mysterious people issues.

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Alright, so things are a little more clear here.  That big guy front and center?  An ice giant.  The guy in the top left corner is an avarian, a birdman in the world of Tellest.  We’ve got a dwarf in the foreground, who may be a little familiar to readers of the first book.  In the background, two more folks.  And on the right side, our hero, Bolt Thunderfury.

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Leo made a slight change that we ultimately opted out of here.  He thought that Bolt and our dwarf looked a little too similar in their poses, but we didn’t mind.  We wanted to see that dwarf’s face, by gum!  And then you can also see our other two characters with more clarity.  One of them is called a delver—they’re the dark elves of the Tellest universe.  The other is a haudron, a half-giant.  But whose side are they on?

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And there you have it.  That’s our final version.  You can click on it to see it embiggened.  We’re so proud of it being the first big reveal for our next big push.

We also wanted to give a shout out to Matthew DeAngelo, the man who ultimately inspired a lot of what Bolt Thunderfury is.  His birthday was yesterday, and we’re proud of him too!

Art – Leo Grab Bag

Hi there everybody!  Sorry for the slight delay in getting this week’s art to you.  It has been a very busy time!

This week, we wanted to share with you some of the side work that Leo has done for us.  Leo is as valuable a member of our team as anybody, and I’m so lucky to have met his acquaintance, even though he’s on the other side of the Atlantic!

One of the things Leo did for us was help us put together a bonus for all the folks that purchased the paperback version of Tales of Tellest. Below, you’ll see the bookmark that’s going out in the mail later this week into next week.

Tales of Tellest Bookmark Front

We also wanted to get together something that could serve as a generic short story cover, since we’ve got so many coming out these days.

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We came up with the idea to use Gaston, our do-it-all sage, as the model.  He’s got that quintessential wizard look, and it made this just look so darn good.

Short Story Panel

If you caught the short story we posted earlier this week, you may be familiar with this piece.  This is the first time it’s been shown in all of its glory, though.

Thank you again to Leo, who has always done such an amazing job for us.  He really deserves a lot of praise!

Art – Groomsmen Art

This is the final bit of the wedding related artworks that you’ll see from us!  I know, it’s very sad, but everything about our wedding was glorious.  There was only the tiniest bit of drama, and it doesn’t stand up at all to how amazing the whole experience was.  So don’t fret… just enjoy this latest piece of artwork.

One of the things that I wanted to do was make sure my groomsmen felt very appreciated.  They took me on an awesome bachelor party (white water rafting, could not be happier), and they all did a great job helping out the day of the wedding.

One of the things that I got them was a personalized flight paddle and beer glasses so that they had something practical (and a little nod to the rafting trip).  But I also wanted to show these guys how I see them.  They’re all heroes in their own way, and they’ve inspired me in ways that the don’t even know.  With that in mind, we ended up going to work trying to get a cool portrait done with the Tellest characters that they helped me to create over the years.

My initial aim was to try and get RedPear, who has always done an awesome job with the characters, to do this ensemble piece. Unfortunately, because of school related work, we were unable to collaborate.  She sent me to her friend Yanisaran though, who I’m happy to say took me up on the offer.

The first thing to make sure we had down was the way Eclipse looked.  He was a character who was only briefly seen in The Bindings of Fate, but began to play a big part in the second book an onward. Yanisaran took the references shot that I gave her and put together a decent sketch of the character:

 

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After that, it was time to put together the sketches of the full piece.

 

Groomsmen Rough 1

 

Groomsmen Rough 2

 

As it grew, we were able to determine more of what it was going to end up looking like.  One of the problems with some of these initial sketches is that you don’t necessarily know what’s open to interpretation sometimes, and what is aiming at going toward the final piece.

 

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The outfits and everything ended up looking really, really cool, but you’ll notice that the characters didn’t quite end up looking like their counterparts in the other art that we had commissioned.  Yanisaran did an awesome job, but the characters looked a bit too young for the roles they were trying to fulfill.  Knowing that she didn’t have the time for any sweeping changes, I made an 11th hour, Hail Mary pass to Leo.

 

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After a substantial amount of begging, I was able to convince Leo to take on one last wedding related task before the wedding… he managed to get all this done within a two week period.  He really saved the day.  While the original picture didn’t really need any triage—it’s a great piece of work—it just didn’t look too much like the people I was giving it to as a gift.  Leo had already worked with every one of the characters before, so I knew he had the capability to really put a decent finishing touch on the piece.

 

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We realized early on that updating the faces meant that the bodies didn’t look quite right, so Leo went the extra mile and really pushed himself to get everything looking spectacular.  He really knocked this one out of the park.

 

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Bolt, Eclipse, Kaos, David, Steel Tip, Christopher (L to R).

 

I’m also very happy to say that these ended up being a big hit.  I threw them in some decent picture frames and delivered them to the guys, and they opened them up the day before the wedding.

 

Reveal

 

I want to thank all the artists for helping to make that such an awesome memory.  This was really an ensemble effort that goes beyond just what you see here.  It’s possible only because of all the work that people have been doing over the past two years with these characters, and I could not be more appreciative of all those labors.

I know one of the guys already has it hanging up in their house.

Let me send you off with one more picture.  This is all of the guys in real life (plus the happy bride, of course!):

Groomsmen in Real Life
Dave (David), Matt (Bolt), Rhianna, Mike (Kaos), Kevin (Steel Tip) and Kiran (Eclipse), from left to right. Oh, and that’s Chris (Christopher) in the back.

Art: Child of the Stars Trilogy Box Set

So, this is kind of a new one for us.  We haven’t really ever done one of these before, so there was a lot of learning to be done.

Since the first trilogy in the Tellest grand series is out, I knew that I wanted to put together a bundle for readers – something that they could get for a bargain that let them get their hands on all the stories at one time.

To get to that point, we needed to wait for the covers for the individual novels to be completed.  Leo worked tirelessly on The Bindings of Fate, As Darkness Falls and The Enemy Within, and we landed with three spectacular pieces of art.

CotS Trilogy

After that, I went to Paul, who is just so adept at putting together components into a nice package, and wrapping it with a nice bow. We decided to make a nice 3D Box image that we would see the spines of the books within.

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Our first mockup is very rudimentary.  It had the basic package design in place, complete with the Tellest logo and tagline up at the top.  That’s great for a website, but the motto doesn’t really hold to this particular boxed set.  We also had the books out of order, and the spines are a little boring by themselves.

Tellest_Bundle_Mockup

 

Another small adjustment that we tried was adding a sword to the front cover.  It fills the space, and it’s simple enough that it doesn’t hurt the spine artwork.

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This update was more complete, and more indicative of the final package.  You can see that the books were reordered chronologically, and the spines were adjusted so that the more interesting aspects of the full covers were seen – obviously this wouldn’t be possible with a physical book set, but since this is digital, we were free to make it look as awesome as possible.

The front cover was redesigned a little bit, too, with Child of the Stars Trilogy taking up the biggest piece of real estate.  The motto was dropped and the logo was moved up too.

Tellest_Bundle_Update2

 

And here’s the final piece.  We centered the title a little better and Paul worked his magic on some finishing touches.  In the end, I think we had a great product that we could deliver to new fans of the world of Tellest!