This is the cover of the novel "Hundredwars" by John J. Sherwood. I worked with Richard Vass on it again. The following is a walkthrough how we created this painting.

After we received the details from the publisher, we talked a lot about the options, the potential scenes, the compositional schemes we could use. In the story you can read about the war between the gentle elves and the demonic breed of the aquirs. Both of the species use flying battle ships: the ships of the elves are beautiful, the aquir ones are living meat monstrosities and lava vessels. And there are also dragons in friendship with the good forest people in the novel. Well, we were thinking a lot about the story and then Richard drew these thumbnail sketches. On the first one you can see the final cover in a rough phase: a fallen aquir battle ship and a dragon who attacks it. On the second one there is an aquir chief on his ship, watching some antagonistic dragons flying. The publisher and the author chose the first one.

Richard made the graphics on the basis of the sketch. He drew the dragon and the ship separately, then scanned the pages and gave me a PSD file with two layers. You know I use Photoshop on an iMac, an ancient Wacom tablet and rough metal music.

I played with the dragon and finally flipped it. Kept the graphics on a multiply layer and underpainted it with gray tones. If you paint this way, you can manage the tones easily without take care of the colors.

I added some basic colors to the image. I wanted to illustrate the difference between the meat vessel and the reptile.

At first I worked on the details of the aquir ship and the mountain top. I tried to paint some distance with using of blue tones, because the ship is a really huge beasty and it's far from the dragon (witch is a huge beasty, too).

I wanted the fire to be the focus of the image. When I painted it I used some photos of napalm explosions as references. I think it looks good in front of that purple and blue background.

At the end I finalized the dragon then I painted some tiny flying bat-like creatures in the background. They are aquirs. Or dragons. Or both...

It's the finalized cover painting. I flipped it and made some little modifications: hit the ship with a lightning strike (I guess it comes from the elves), made color corrections, and heal the right... no, the left wing of the dragon.

The book went to the stores with this typography. It's published by Delta Vision, you can read it only in Hungarian.


Jiu Tou Niao

"The jiu tou niao is a savage beast, so rare that most Cathayans believe it is only a myth designed to scare children. This creature appears as a 12-foot tall bird of prey with a 24-foot wingspan and nine heads attached to long, sinewy necks. The jiu tou niao is an excellent hunter, feasting on a wide variety of creatures, though it isn’t above scavenging. However, the favorite meal of the jiu tou niao is Namegiver flesh, especially the flesh of Namegiver children."

Well, it seems it's a pretty badass birdy... Another illustration Richard and I made for the upcoming Earthdawn sourcebook Cathay: The Five Kingdoms Gamemasters Guide.