A chat with Tom Edwards Pt.2

Image of a giant robot, End of Liberty, all images copyright Tom Edwards

What do you use for your work, do you have favorite software? I love Blender for 3D art and it seems a majority of artists use Photoshop, what do you use?
Most of my work is created in Photoshop. I use Zbrush a lot, as well as Keyshot for rendering.

I see that more and more artist are trying to get away from the Adobe “Creative Cloud”, I am playing with the idea changing to ClipStudio, have you tried different applications?
I’ve used lots of programs in the past, but I’ve always come back to these. I don’t mind paying for Photoshop monthly as you get constant updates. I’ve tried Painter in the past, but I found it quite cumbersome, especially when client work requires a streamlined workflow.

If you use 3d models in your art. what do you use to create them?
I use a mixture of Zbrush and 3D Coat. I create the bases for the ships, then apply a lot of paint over the top. This stops them looking too ‘CG’ and allows me to have my own style.

What is your process from the time a client contacts you, until completion?
I normally receive a brief from the client first. From this point, I paint a rough for the cover. After any feedback, I begin to detail the cover. I’m constantly sending progress shots to the client throughout the process, allowing changes and feedback after the rough stage. When the client and I are happy with the finished artwork, I work on the text if it’s needed. I have a background in graphic design, so I feel my skills allow me to compliment my own artwork well.

Free Trader of The Warren Deep, cover.

When I looked at covers for my flagship Free Trader series, I researched the bestsellers in the genre. Most sported Tom’s covers. I was elated when he agreed to do the first three in that series, and then he did six more for that nine-book story arc. I’ve also picked up a bunch of Tom’s pre-made covers and I’m still first in line when new work appears. All potential readers see your cover first. Make it the best you can. Tom is easy to work with and one of the best in the business.

Craig Martelle, Author of many, many, many books.

How much time do you normally allow per project?
I allow 2 weeks (including weekends) for most projects. This gives chance for feedback and changes. If a client needs it done quickly, I can accommodate this too.

What’s your creative process when tackling a new assignment, do you sketch out your ideas first on paper or go directly to digital?
Normally I go straight to digital. It allows me to quickly paint something that will look more like the final cover. I re-read the brief and try to picture the scene in my head for a few minutes. I then try to get my idea down and quickly and accurately as I can. This rough is then sent to the client for approval.

What do you use for your digital art, Wacom tablets? Desktop or another type of tablet for artists?
I use a Wacom Intuos Pro and a windows PC. I used to use a Mac, but I needed extra power for the 3D work I do. I’ve always used Wacom as a brand and would love a Cintiq one day.

Hardest and best part of being your own boss and artist?
For me, it’s being on my own for most of the day. I used to work in a game studio, and I enjoyed then comradery and banter with other artists. Constant feedback from other artists was good too, and I feel I grew a lot as an artist while I was there.

Do you need a degree to become a successful artist?
No. I have a degree, but I wouldn’t say it’s helped me much at all. Constant practice and a love for what you do will have a much bigger impact. It’s all about the artwork you put out, not the level of degree you have written on a piece of paper.

For the writers out there, check this pre-made covers ready for your fiction. What? Sold already? Reach out to Tom and he’ll get  you a fresh one 🙂

All images, copyrighted by Tom Edwards

A chat with Tom Edwards Pt.1

Illustration by Tom Edwards. spaceship fighting. All rights reserved by Tom Edwards

Tom Edwards is one of the most sought-after artists by authors today. A talented illustrator who, after a stint as a concept artist at Codemasters, a UK based games company, decided at the start of 2015 to break out and begin a career as a freelance artist.
I was delighted when he took the time to answers a few question, hope you’ll enjoy this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. And thank you, Tom!

You have some fantastic artwork, how long have you been doing this and what is your favorite part of your job?

Thank you. I’ve been painting for years, but professionally about 7 years. I love the freedom I have, and being able to work with a lot of different people.

If there was one thing you could tell to writers who approach you for work, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid of asking for exactly what you’d like on the cover.

Tom is the consummate professional. Not only is his artwork top-of-the-line, he is communicative and clear, he keeps his deadlines, and he both listens to the input I give him and offers his own insights as to what will work best. I’ve worked with Tom on three book covers, and he has exceeded my expectations each and every time. His ability to translate a written brief into a captivating image that tells a story and excites the reader is truly exceptional. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have worked with someone so talented and professional. I offer Tom the highest recommendation I can possibly think of.
Ira Heinichen, Author of Starstuff

What should writers know that would make the process easier and faster?

Try to have a good idea of the brief. Include a description of the various elements, possibly from the book.

Tell me about your premade covers.

The premade covers we’re actually an idea from my partner, Nat. It was basically a way to give authors a cheaper alternative to a professional quality cover. I try to make them generic in the sense of details. I think this allows them to be used for a lot of different sci-fi stories.

What are some examples of your latest and greatest covers?

2018 has got off to a great start. I’ve worked with Jasper Scott on his upcoming Broken Worlds: The Revenants. This is yet to be released (Note: Release date April 18, 2018.)but is available for pre-order:
USA: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0793H3WKG/
UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0793H3WKG/

I’ve also worked with Scott Bartlett on his latest Ixan Legacy novel, Pride of the Fleet

Illustration by Tom Edwards Illustration by Tom Edwards

Both of these clients have been with me for a few years now, and I’ve done quite a few covers for both, especially Scott.

How long does a cover normally take from start to finish?

Around 5 – 10 working days. Some take me longer depending on detail and changes, and others take a lot less. Jasper needed the new cover quickly, so I managed to get that one done in 3 days.

All images, copyrighted by Tom Edwards

Author A. M. Rycroft has a new book out!

Shadowboxer cover

Shadowboxer: The Gathering Dark Pt. 1 (Cathell Book 4) , the newest book in the Cathell series from A.M. Rycroft is out and ready to be read. It’s always great to promote indie authors and artists so I welcomed the chance to write about her work and toss a few questions her way.

joy thief Into the darkness The Taming

You have just published a new book, what can you tell me about it?

Shadowboxer is the fourth book in the Cathell series overall, and the first book in a tight story arc called “The Gathering Dark”. It follows Thystle Moran from books 1 and 2. She receives a summons from the young cleric who helped her and her friends kill the mad god known as The Harbinger (book 1, Into the Darkness). Colin tells her that he’s seen men digging around The Harbinger’s tomb, and he needs her help to stop them.

It looks like it’s part of a series could a new reader just jump in and enjoy the read?

Absolutely. When I write a new book in the series, I work hard to make sure that if a reader starts at book 3, they’ll be able to understand what’s going on right away. And I know some readers have picked up book 3, loved it, and went back to read the rest of the series. Book 4 isn’t any different. It loosely picks up where The Joy Thief left off, in that it starts to answer some of the questions raised in book 3, but readers definitely don’t need to have read book 3 to understand what’s going on or who the players are.

What would you like to tell the reader about the Cathell series?

The Cathell series is a dark sword and sorcery series that features strong female characters of all ages and professions — they don’t all carry swords or fight — and an overall diverse cast. I don’t really like how “white” some fantasy is, so I’ve done what I can to bring in many different types of people into the cast, from all types of backgrounds, races, etc. The mythology is of my own making as well. I borrow some aspects of the typical European fantasies, but I’m equal opportunity as to the cultures — and sometimes, time periods — that I borrow from. Nothing follows our known history.

Is this the last book in the Cathell series?

Not a chance. I’m just getting started. There are at least three books in “The Gathering Dark”, plus a few more planned for after this arc. I’m also writing some novellas and short stories that center around some of the side characters, like the ship captain Reegan McCullum and Vincent, the owner of the Fallen Rose Inn, where Thystle has a permanent room. But I’m also working on another series called The Fall of Kingdoms. The first part of the first book, Corruption of Honor, was released in novella form in December.

What got you started writing?

I started writing when I was very young, but I never considered a career as an author until after I quit art school. I had this crazy dream about the character who would become Aeryn Ravane in the first book in my series. I couldn’t shake the dream, so I decided to write it down, and it became a book. The writing bug bit me pretty hard and that point and the rest is history.

For the writers reading this, what motivates you and how do you recharge after a long writing session?

The characters in my head motivate me. There are times when I don’t really feel like writing because I’m tired or not feeling well, but then one of my characters will kind of poke me and say, “Well, what about this scene? Would you like to write that?” And, of course, I say, “Heck, yeah.”
If I’ve had a particularly long writing or revisions session, I like to wind down by watching sports — hockey and football, mostly — or playing a video game. If it’s late at night, I’ll read, even if it’s just on Facebook. I’m on there way too often for my own good.

I love horror, what is the best part about being part of the Horror Writer Association?

The support of the other authors and publishers who are members. You wouldn’t think horror and dark fantasy writers would be such a tight-knit group, but they actually are. It’s probably because we tend to be thought of a little like the red-headed stepchildren of the writing world. Yes, we’re often weird, but we’re also quite nice people when you get to know us.

In the context of being a creative artist, what makes your heart sing?

When a project really starts to come together. It doesn’t matter if I’m writing or working on a graphic arts piece. I’m not really happy when the piece is fighting me, but when it really takes shape and I can see how great it will be when it’s done, I’m over the moon.

Lots of writers have pets who sit with them while they write. How about you? Any special writing companions?

Not anymore. My furry best friend, a big orange tabby, passed away a couple years ago. He was my writing companion for about 14 years. I still expect to see him parked by the radiator in my office sometimes. But we do have plans to adopt another cat or two soon, so who knows, you may see pictures of my new writing buddy on Facebook soon.

A.M. Rycroft website: www.writinginadarkroom.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/amrycroftwriter/
Twitter: twitter.com/amrycroftwriter
And Her Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/A.-M.-Rycroft/e/B00YPW642W/