Space GLobe - book illustration by Duncan Long

Lately, I’ve been employing 3D character creation for realistic book cover and magazine illustrations — sort of “photographs of the impossible.” The obvious big plus here is that I can offer the realism of a photo while creating art that would be impossible (or very expensive) to photograph.

This process of creating science fiction book cover art or a magazine illustration like the one above starts with the creation of a basic character like this one:

Ceegee - character portrait to establish the character's appearance

Once her basic features are to my (and my client’s) liking, the proper hair and costume can be added to give her a more sci-fi appearance:

Space GLobe character with proper hair, lighting, and costume

When costume and hair are finalized, I’m ready to create an illustration with the character posed and lit properly along with a background that goes with the story. Soon, we have a book or magazine illustration.

The big plus of these 3D characters (in addition to their realism) is that they can be posed in any of a variety of ways with the “lights and camera” placed creatively as well. Thus this space-suited character can be used as the basis of a digital painting like that at the top of this post, or (by painting in a clear plastic helmet faceplate and giving her a space cap) viewed from the side like this:

Gaze Into Space artwork for book cover


Illustrator Duncan Long creates artwork to illustrate stories in books and magazines. You can visit his online portfolio here: Duncan Long’s Portfolio of Science Fiction and Fantasy Art.