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

How to get it done – Shut up and work

Delicious looking cheese spread

Some humble suggestions…

It worked for me anyway, so I’ll share.  Getting your book, your game map, your art project complete is to:


  • Depending on your personality, this could be one and the same. I’m going to go with that, as that is how I do it.
  • Sketches, or jot down notes. As I work, I have notepad open on the side. Humble Notepad, simple, format stripping notepad. I put in ideas, links, notes, follow-ups. Of course, if I need fanciness I’ll jump to excel like sheets or other doc formats. Sketches PSD or plain old paper.
  • See possibilities. Put on hold the negative part of your brain that says “This is idiotic!”, “NEVER”, “NOOOOO.” They are just ideas you can always reject them at a later date. Keep your mind open.
  • Shut up. Just work. Don’t splatter your new idea or project on social media. Don’t put everything down because you JUST GOT to tell your friends.


  • Shut up, don’t tell anyone about. Possible exception your pets, houseplant or very supportive partner/friend/whatever. Why? They won’t post about or wonder if you’ll get it done this time around.
  • Your energy should be focused on creating. Not yakking about it. Period.
  • Come at a stand still, but not done? Return to step one.  Plan, dream. Don’t get discouraged. Allow for your original idea to morph if needed. A lot of ideas you begun with won’t make it to the end of the journey.
  • As you work your drawings, paintings, or models. The characters in your novel, the scenes in you short story will evolve. Keep an open mind. They might be going in a better direction than the one you had planned.
  • What will make to the end of the journey with you, will be what mattered? What really spoke to you.
  • Plan/Dream/Shut up/Execute, as needed until you are done.

Are you done?

  • Now, you can tell everyone about it.

Minor exceptions to the, shut up and work, rule.

It’s the 21st century, I know. Being social, informing your readers and/or fans of your progress is part of your marketing strategy. I get it.

But if you are a new writer, artist or developer. And you haven’t managed to finish a single project, then you don’t have your discipline down yet, don’t waste your energy on sharing about your work until you are about 80% or 90% done.

What I noticed over the years is that what you really truly care about has to be nurtured. Talk too much about it, and it sucks the energy from it. It gives you the impression that you are working on it. But it’s just an impression.

The image? Nothing to do with the article, but when you are done writing your book or completing whatever needs doing, have a treat. Image courtesy of Steve on Pixabay