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You are here:- Cover Art

A book cover doesn't just happen.  It is the result of many hours of hard work, and countless revisions.  You can see the evolution of the artwork Glenn Kim did for two of our novels--from initial concept, to the amazing covers you see for After the Cross and When the Sky Fell.

And as an added bonus, you can read Glenn's biography at the bottom of this page, and learn something about the person who created this wonderful art.


                        AFTER THE CROSS

                     ATC sketch.jpg

This was my feeble attempt at doing the front cover concept for American Midnight.  Never in a million years would I consider myself good enough as an artist to do the cover.  Rather, we only had 4 weeks to get the artwork done, and I figured if Glenn had an idea of what Brandon and I wanted, it would save us a lot of time discussing what we were looking for  and how we would execute it.  Suffice it to say, Glenn thought my approach was static and boring (and rightly so), and started working on what he thought would be much more eye-catching.  When you see the end result, I think you'll agree we made the right choice hiring him. 




This was the first concept Glenn started off with for After the Cross.  I think the overall idea was quite interesting, and I liked what he did, espeically the panel that showed the city outline of the Sofia Hagia (a lot of other people I showed it to liked it as well), but the part that concerned me was that the three images didn't quite indicate to the reader what the story was about.  I wanted something a little more focused.




Glenn also came up with this overhead concept I thought was interesting, which was similar to the sketch I did.  We ultimately rejected it because it didn't seem like the cover could really go anywhere using the ariel view perspective.




When I saw this version Glenn did, I was immediately intrigued.  Having the three main characters locate the cross in a cave instantly conveyed to the reader the archeology theme in the story.  I also liked the inclusion of the man in the back with the AK-47, also denoting a sense of danger.  Of the three, I thought this one was by far the best, and had an inkling this might be our cover.  




After much discussion we decided to go with this concept, at least for the time being, though Brandon felt it had a Hardy Boys quality about it, and was concerned perspective readers would treat it as an adventure story for young people.  To give the cover more of an adult feel, we suggested adding a helicopter.




A number of people had indicated they liked the three-panel version a lot.  And so we tried to use it , this time including the cave sketch, but Brandon and I felt this didn't work.  It was just too busy and unfocused.




After more discussions with Glenn and Brandon, we decided the best idea for the cover was deleting the middle box and making the cave motif the most prominent aspect.  However, we also like the inclusion of the map at the top, and so we thought this merge would make for a great cover.



                  7ATC 1st color sketch.png

Once we had decided on an overall concept, and the elements that would be included, Glenn went to work on what kind of a color scheme would complement the artwork.  This was a good start, but too heavy on the yellows and purples in my estimation.



                  8ATC 1st color sketch.jpg

Filling in a few more of the details, shadows, and color variations, Glenn also inserted the title and map motif we wanted included in the top panel.



                   9Sketch 2010-09-24 11_08_37.png

When I saw this version of the cover I knew we were getting close.  I really liked the earth tones that he incorporated in the image, plus the use of shadows to enhance the action taking place in the scene.  Another change Glenn did I thought was a great improvement was the addition of the map in the top panel, giving the cover more of the story-being-rooted-in-the-past-feel we were going for.  On the other hand, he tried several poses for the woman on the left, none of them quite right in our estimation, until he came up the stance and posture we felt much better complemented the other two characters.




Glenn spent a lot of time bringing out the detail in this version, and it really shows, specifically with the cave walls, the addition of rocks in the cave, and the cross itself.  Another significant change he made was with the sky in the background.  While he did like idea of the sun shining directly into the cave, creating the strong shadows, he also felt the overall color scheme was monochromatic, and needed a little blue in the palatte.  There was one part, however, that still didn't look right--the woman's face.  Glenn had tried serveral times to make her look alluring, but it never quite came out right.  This was the version we submitted to the publisher so we could make our deadline, but it was a cover I wasn't entirely happy with, and asked for a 1-week extension.  Fortunately for us, the publisher gave us the time we needed.



                     11ATC-final version.jpg

Because we only had a limited amount of time to finish the cover, and still be something we were all happy with, we decided to send a picture of Brandon's wife and use her as the model for the female character.  This helped speed up the process immeasurably.  The end result is an amazing cover, far better than I had initially conceived of when we first sat down and tried to figure out what we wanted.  Glenn is a truly talented artist, and I am so grateful he agreed to do the artwork for us.




                     WHEN THE SKY FELL

             Sky Cover 01.jpg

This first draft of the Corona done by Glenn was a good start, but in my opinion, it didn't convey the size and presence I described in the book.



               Sky Cover 02.jpg

Glenn made some changes to the initial concept, added something detail, but the overall look he was leaning towards still wasn't working for me.



               Sky Cover 03.jpg

This next rendition was much closer to what I envisioned in my mind.  I liked the way Glenn portrayed the bridge and the addition of extra thrusters.  We were getting close, but this version of the Corona still didn't convey a sense of presence and power I felt should be inherent in the ship.



               Sky Cover 04.jpg

When I saw this version of the Corona I knew I had my ship.



                Sky Cover 05.jpg

Once the overall look of the Corona was resolved, we focused our attention on how the Min fighter should look.  He came up with this design very early in the concept phase, and stayed with it throughout the process.



                 Sky Cover 06.jpg

Glenn and I then turned our attention to the Deravans.  Since there are only a couple of scenes in the novel where Brandon and I describe their ships in any great detail, I didn't have a clear idea of how they should look.   This gave Glenn a little more freedom trying to conceptualize something that is depicted as inherently evil, but this also meant it took the three of us a while to agree on just how those ships would look like.  He ultimately focused on a ship that was menacing in appearance, but at the same time, had a dark, organic quality about it.


                      Antaren Dreadnought.jpg

It was at this point that Glenn's schedule was getting quite busy, and he was not in a position to devote to the time he had been giving us in the previous weeks.  As result, he never was able to draw in detail what an Antaren Dreadnought looked like.  However, since we decided they were going to remain in the background, so as to not to clutter the cover with too many elements, something of greater detail was never really needed anyway.



                    Sky Cover 07.jpg

Once we decided how the ships were going to look, Glenn then focused his attention on the artwork for the cover.  Brandon and I had some very definite ideas about this.  We both agreed it should be visually interesting and eye-catching.  In particular, I felt the cover should be an action scene, conveying to the reader something big is about to happen.  Since the climatic battle takes place in orbit above Mars, it seemed the best scene to depict.  I thought Glenn's first version captured all these elements quite well.



                    Sky Cover 09.gif

When Glenn sent me a color version of the cover, I really liked what he did.  I thought the Deravan ships crossing in front of the Sun as they swooped down on the Corona was a very nice touch.  The only element of the cover that was different than what I imagined was the Corona pointing towards the left.  When I first described the cover to Glenn, I suggested Yamane's ship was on the right side of Mars, facing the other way.  Artistically, Glenn felt it looked better this way, and drew it as such.  I deferred to his judgment and let it stand.



                    Sky Cover 10.jpg

Glenn then set about tindkering with the different elements on the cover.  While I liked the idea of a Min fighter swooping across the front of the cover, I thought it obscured what I thought was the most important element of the cover--the Corona getting attacked by an armada of enemy ships.  I also thought the use of reverse thrusters was unnecessary, and I also thought at least one Deravan ship should be seen in profile.  Though this wasn't a step backward, it also wasn't a step forward either.



                     Sky Cover 11.jpg

Glenn and I both agreed two Min fighters should be on the cover, moving in to intercept the Deravan ships.  When he depicted them this way, it resolved the sweeping action problematic of the previous cover, but I felt he brought the one in the foreground too close.  To me, it seem anyone looking at this version would now think the pilot was the main element on the cover, which was not what I wanted at all.  It became apparent to me at this that e-mails and phone calls were just not able to convey how I wanted the cover to look.  I think Glenn was feeling the same thing.  And so we decided to have lunch together at Pixar Animation Studios and go over every element I wanted in point-by-point detail.  In the end, we both left that meeting feeling like we both know how it should look. 


                    Sky Cover 12.jpg

When I saw Glenn's next rendition, I knew the meeting was exactly what each of  us needed.  This version was much more in tune with the way I envisioned it in my mind.  I espcecially liked that Deravan ship in the foreground.  We weren't done yet, but very close.  The onlys suggestions  I had for him were pushing the two Min fighters more to the right, and changing the color of the Corona from brown to gray.  After that, I figured we were done.




As Glenn set about working towards completing the cover, a nagging feeling in the back of his head kept telling him something about the cover just wasn't working.  Since he didn't really know what "it" was, he focused his attention on refining those elements that need work.  Then, in a moment of inspiration, he realized the orientation of the Corona was all wrong.  It should be facing to the right, just as I had suggested at the beginning.  He also felt the Yamane's ship would convey a greater sencse of power and size if it was brought more to the foreground.  I was also Glenn's idea if the hundreds of Deravan ships swooping down on the Corona interact with the book title in some way.  He thought partially covering the letters gave them more of dynamic quality

With all said and done, Brandon and I are very happy with the cover.  We both believer that Glenn did an amazing job.  What he produced was exactly what we were looking fore from the beginning--something that conveyed a sense of awe and wonder, but at the same time, make someone looking at the cover hopefully want to purchase the book and read about the story himself.


Glenn Kim’s Biography


Glenn is an illustrator by heart. He keeps himself busy currently employed as an artist at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville CA, where he has worked on most of the films since Bug’s Life. He has helped defined the look of memorable characters such as Hopper, Bruce the Shark, Al the toy collector, Mater the trusty best buddy. He has also helped designs some sets and vehicles.


Glenn graduated from Oak Grove High School in San Jose, CA back in 1985. After high school, he was looking for direction. He took some classes at West Valley Community College, but found the school to be unfulfilling. By chance, Glenn decided to give Evergreen Valley College in East San Jose a try. There he met a great teacher, Barbara Bouchard. She recognized Glenn’s talents and helped guide him to setting his goal towards getting a formal arts education.


Glenn decided on the Academy of Art College.  Since it was close to home, and they have a great illustration program, he was able to focus on developing his skills as an artist. He was also fortunate to have some of the best known illustrators of the time teach there. He graduated in 1991, and freelanced for about 5 years, until Pixar came calling. He has been there since.


He recently got married and lives in Oakland California. He enjoys the life that Oakland and the surrounding area has to offer, including a temperate climate that is some of the best in the greater bay area. As for his career, Pixar has many more opportunities to offer him in the way of creative outlets. The animation industry is going through a boom, a second Golden Age, if you will. At the same time, Glenn plans on getting more involved in doing freelance book covers, especially science fiction.  But he will keep his day job, just in case.




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