Artwork by illustrator Duncan Long for a science fiction short story.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been working on illustrations for science fiction print magazine. As is traditional for sci-fi magazine, this publication will use only black ink on the inside pages (to reduce ink costs), the pictures therefore must be grayscale (often called “black and white” — though in fact they have all sorts of gradations between a solid black and a blank white).

The trick with B&W illustrations is to keep backgrounds, especially around characters, as close to solid black or white as possible behind the figure, so the character isn’t lost in background “clutter.” In this case, since the lady in the pictures has dark hair, a light sky in the background is perfect for making her stand out from the background.

And, yes, those are virtual, floating fish that are acting as her belt in the story (I’ll not say more less I give away too much of the plot).

Here’s a “portrait” version of the sci-fi character, slightly angled so it doesn’t exactly duplicate her picture in the full-scene illustrations. (The editor may — or may not — use this additional picture depending on the layout and page count being aimed for).

Sci-fi magazine character art by illustrator Duncan Long

Print gives about three times as much resolution as does web artwork. Here’s a “detail” from the picture at the top. This added detail is one of the things that makes print magazines more popular than e-publications for many readers, especially when it comes to those books a magazines that have illustrations.

Detail picture for science fiction magazine story - art by Duncan Long


Duncan Long is a freelance illustration who has done artwork for Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Amazing StoriesMuse Magazine, and many other publishers. You can see more of his artwork at: Duncan Long’s Book and Magazine Illustrations.