John Bowers-Guerrilla Girl book cover illustration-large

We finished up the book cover illustration for the second installment in John Bowers’ science fiction “Starport” series, Guerrilla Girl last week. Amazingly enough, the novel is already available for sale today at Amazon. The final version of my cover artwork (and layout) is shown above.

For the project we started with a 3D model (which is more easily posed). Here’s the first test render (with a few touch-ups in Corel PhotoPaint) that I created to establish the character for the cover.

Gray suit test render for science fiction book cover art

The face and pose were close to what John wanted to see, but the costume was wrong. So the next round of work was to create a camouflage outfit for the character. We decided to arm her with a bayonet rather than a pistol.

The female hand is not at its best when viewed from the palm side with a “hammer” hold on a knife (the hold dictated by her less than muscular arms). A saber hold is prettier but I opted for a logical hold over a pretty one. So we had this pose and weapon:

Sci-Fi hero illustration for science fiction book cover.

This was close (though the camouflage on the pants wasn’t working, so it would be replaced by a different material matte).

The next step was to create a space vehicle would would appear in the distance. It was created by combining several different 3D models I had on hand, removing parts, adding, mixing and matching to create a Frankenstein futuristic looking sky thing. Here are the test renders/illustrations to establish the concept (the final version had a lot of the detail and color removed so the vehicle would appear to be in the distance).

Military Sled proof of concept render/illustration.

Military Sled low view proof of concept render and painting for book cover.

Next the components were put together and background layers painted in along with a grass layer in front of the character to add some depth:

John Bowers novel test cover layout for book illustration.

This was close to the final version with the camouflage on the pants now working.

The character seemed a bit vulnerable when armed with only a knife, so we decided to add a US M4 carbine on a sling to her armament (as seen in the final version of the cover above). Since both the bayonet and carbine were side views, I simply painted them into the picture as flat 2D layers rather than creating a 3D model for each of them. This is faster while allowing a high level of detail.

Here are a couple of “closeups” from the “character layer” of the final book illustration:

Bayonet - detail from final book illustration.

Face detail for the science fiction novel artwork.

Creating this cover illustration and then the lettering/layout was a fun project, and I’m really happy with how the book cover turned out.

You can learn more about Bower’s science fiction novel, read sample chapters, and purchase a copy at Amazon.

Check it out: Like the rest of the Starport series, Guerrilla Girl is a fast-paced great read.

Duncan Long is a book cover illustrator who creates artwork for many indie and small presses as well as doing work for HarperCollins, Amazing Stories, Pocket Books, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Paladin Press, and many other publishers. Check out more of his book cover illustrations at Duncan Long’s Artwork Portfolio.