The art of ‘The Anomaly Problem’ – the cover.

As I mentioned before, the cover for The Anomaly Problem was designed and created by me. I’m no graphic artist, but I think I did a pretty good job. I had a lot of trouble with the concept. To give you an idea of just how much trouble, I had a stress-dream about it last night. And the cover’s been done for over a month!

AP_CoverMy original concept for the cover was to do a quadriptych, an image with four panels, one for each of my protagonists. I did some research into the technical requirements for the cover, and I found that the printing process used for my print-on-demand novel is a bit hit-or-miss. The edges, apparently, wouldn’t be cut exactly the same for each book. We’re talking only a millimeter or two, but when I tested that with the original quadriptych image, it didn’t look right. It looked okay, but I was after something better than “okay.”

So the concept was scrapped, and I settled for a single image, one that would wrap around to the back. I took the most sci-fi of the four original panels and reworked it, which meant reframing the shot and re-rendering.


The cover image is computer generated, 3D models in front of a stock background photo. I designed the robotic-looking hand (it’s actually a prosthetic) so that it could, in theory, be printed with a 3D printer, in keeping with the story (yes, some of it is aluminium, but I figure they can print metal in the future). The gun is meant to be a cheaply-made knockoff of a standard M1911 semi-automatic. I created the models in Blender and rendered the scene using their Cycles rendering engine. 3D modeling has been a hobby of mine for years, and I’ve become something of an expert in Blender.

cover_breakdown01

I’m not bragging, I’m trying to inspire. See, Blender is free software, and it’s very powerful and stable. There are loads of tutorials out there and a great community. You can become an expert in Blender without spending a dime (besides buying a computer, and you won’t even need a terribly beefy machine). I recommend checking out Andrew Price’s blenderguru.com. I used his tutorials on PBR materials and photorealistic rendering to help create the shaders and materials for the prosthetic hand and gun.

cover_breakdown02
(Click images for bigger versions)

I’m proud of the result, and even more proud of the extreme DIY approach I took to my novel The Anomaly Problem. It was a lot of work, but it was so worth it. I’d do it again, and I probably will.

Pick up your paperback or ebook copy of The Anomaly Problem here, then you can marvel at my cover art in the comfort of your own home. But don’t forget to read it, too.


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