Seb says:
'Sameth is extremely talented, and does his best to fulfil his obligations. Really though he is a master builder and not an Abhorsen - he's a world-class artisan, the embodiment of builders. Rather than just have the man be standing there tough as nails with a sword (though he can be pretty tough) I wanted to emphasise this other, more interesting (to me, anyway) aspect of his character. I wanted to show Lirael developing into a character more powerful and heroic. In this rough I like to think they are by a campfire and Sam is tinkering with some mechanical miracle, while Lirael has the sword and is alert, tapping him on the shoulder as if to warn him of a nefarious presence.'

First cover rough: Abhorsen

In the end, the decision was to go with a more active pose, showing Sameth and Lirael back to back, facing off against an unknown danger.

Second cover rough for Abhorsen

Seb says:
'After doing the rough drawing I like to get an idea of the temperature of the painting by splashing colour around until I like it. Then I put that away and drop all the colour out and work on the value structure. If you can get your painting to work in black and white then it will work no matter what colours you lay on top. After that it is a slow back and forth process of adding rough chaos, then refining, and then back to adding more mess and so on until it's time for final details.'

Abhorsen: the cover illustration process stage by stage


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