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_Cover_largeMy 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.

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(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 copy of The Anomaly Problem in paperback and on Kindle devices/apps 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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