Mandy Huston Rising of the Cursed book cover illustration

Mandy Huston ''Rising of the Cursed'' book illustration by Duncan Long

We recently completed the cover for Mandy Huston’s horror story Rising of the Cursed. And as is often the case, we took a somewhere circular route getting to the final version of the book cover illustration.

The original idea was to have a moon with a prowling wolf silhouetted in front of it, with the main character in the foreground. The blond werewolf — in human form — was to be an attractive young women wearing a leather jacket to fit the story. I love creating beautiful gals for covers.

How could I miss?

Here was the “first draft” of the cover:

Children of the Night -- unsold book cover artwork by illustrator Duncan Long

Book cover artwork by illustrator Duncan Long

But never underestimate the abilities of the flying monkeys in the studio; the leather jacket was a bit too good — alas, the woman looked too much “like a biker chick” in the author’s words.

But the wolf and moon, grass and trees… All worked. So the next request: “How about making the wolf howling and keep the other elements while losing the gal?”

After a bit of work, this led to:

Concept painting for Rising of the Cursed book cover.

Second concept painting by illustrator Duncan Long.

Now the idea was working — but the majority felt the view was too much of a closeup on the wolf.

So I moved the critter back into the background and added a whole bunch more grass (which everyone wanted — and seems to have become somewhat of a trademark, at least on a lot of my illustrations), and painted in more trees, sky, and hill. After adjusting the size of the Moon and adding some glow to it, this led to the final version of the book cover illustration:

Rising of the Cursed book cover illustration by artist Duncan Long

Illustrator Duncan Long: final book artwork for ''Rising of the Cursed''

Finding the right typeface proved the next hurdle. There were lots of weird, distressed fonts available, yet none seemed quite right. Finally we settled on the typeface Yellow Magician created by √Črico Lebedenco.

And there you have it. The final book cover illustration.

And, just in case anyone is wondering, yes, I did finish the biker gal version of the picture — and it’s now available for sale to anyone needing a book cover with the proverbial “lone wolf” and a beautiful blond biker chick.

When not painting women in leather, Duncan Long works as a book illustrator for a variety of large presses, indie and small publishers, and self-publishing authors. More of Long’s book artwork can be enjoyed at his Online Book Artwork Portfolio