Book cover for Voice of the Chosen -artwork by illustrator Duncan Long

Final book cover for Voice of the Chosen (illustration by Duncan Long)

We just rounded up the cover for Lawrence P. White’s science fiction novel Voice of the Chosen, the third book in White’s science fiction series. I’ve enjoyed doing each of these covers, and believe this my be the most attractive of the three — though it’s perhaps a tossup with the second in the series (Knights of the Chosen).

Although we pretty much established the elements of the cover from the git-go with this project, there were some strange twists and turns — and all my fault. The author told me he wanted a domed building with a 30-40 year old attractive woman in a cloak appearing above it.

Yes, that sounds simple enough. But I still managed to throw a monkey wrench (albeit a flying monkey wrench) into things.

Since the building in the story was the senate building on a far-flung planet, my imagination twisted the idea into something that had an Earthly counterpart. My logic: Since state and federal capital buildings here on Earth have a dome on top of them, and are often referred to as “domed buildings” that this was what the author meant when he told me the building was domed.

Thus, the first rendition of the domed building was of a somewhat Venician style, multi-stories and, yes, a dome on top.

Science fiction novel cover concept gone wrong - artwork by illustrator Duncan Long

Science fiction novel concept art gone wrong - so right, yet so wrong.

Buzzzzz…. Wrong solution.

The building was to be a dome, period. Not a tall building with a dome on top. Oh, and no city in the background. And, a much different age of woman. And the woman was supposed to have a hooded cloak, not an evening dress.

Other than that, as the old saying goes, it was perfect.

Fortunately, the fix was a bit easier than one might imagine. I took one of my original digital paintings (sans windows in the dome), hacked the dome from it, and plopped it into a landscape. Then I added some walls, stairs, and pedestrians. At that point I was pretty much on the right page (although we finally cut down the width of the stairs to make the whole building appear on the cover).

The cloak and dusty nebula of the sky were pretty much right from the first (with the star field, dust, and colors perhaps throwbacks to those beautiful paintings on the classic paperback science fiction novels I grew up with as a kid).

But the gal’s face. The robot in the studio went clanging about croaking, “Warning! Warning! Danger, Will Robinson.”

I kept painting her way too young; the character was supposed to be older but very attractive. Perhaps my agism was showing here. At any rate, after three or four stabs, everyone was desperate. I asked a question I should have asked earlier. “If you were casting a movie of the novel, what star would you choose to play the role of the queen?”

Once I got the answer, I had an imagine in mind to work toward. Of course I couldn’t slavishly copy a star’s face. But some of the feel of that face went into the painting (can you guess which star it was?). Now we had her face right:

Face detail for Voice of Chosen science fiction novel artwork by book illustrator Duncan Long

The final face for Voice of Chosen

I dropped the face into the hood of the cloak, repainted the folds around the face, and that completed the illustration for White’s science fiction novel:

Artwork by illustrator Duncan Long for the science fiction novel

Final artwork for the Voice of the Chosen science fiction novel.

My next task was extending the edges of the painting so it would fit on the front of the cover while still allowing plenty of space for the title and author’s name as well as the trim “bleed” around the edges of the cover. Since the typeface was to be the same from the first two books in the series, there wasn’t much room for error there (though still I managed, initially making the lettering a bit too small and thus having to resize it and shrink the center elements of the painting a bit, and then painting in an even larger border to take up the slack — at that point the stairs on the senate building were also truncated on the left and right).

From there, I generated the cover artwork for the Kindle and book catalog (with the Kindle version generally working with most other ebook formats).

After that, I plugged in the spine measurements with other information to create the layout and lettering for the spine and back cover of the book for the print edition of the novel.

Print version showing cover illustration and icons created by artist Duncan Long

Final layout for the science fiction novel Voice of the Chosen.

The final layout went pretty quickly since I had the icon I’d created along with the designs from the previous two books in this science fiction trilogy. So after tinkering and adjusting everything so the layout was polished, I had the print version of the book’s cover ready to go.

Nothing to it — provided you have a patient client, which I fortunately did; he courteously shepherded me in the right direction each time I strayed until we finally had .

All three of White’s science fiction novels are available in Kindle format at including this latest of the three Voice of the Chosen. If you enjoy a face-paced science fiction novel, you’ll find this book to your liking.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to treat yourself to the other books in the series as well.
Illustrator Duncan Long creates cover artwork for science fiction novels as well as other genres and non-fiction books. His artwork has appeared on titles from HarperCollins, PS Publishing, Mermaid Publishing, ILEX, and Enslow Publishers, and well as many indie presses. You can see more of his book artwork at Duncan Long’s Book Illustration Portfolio