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Ratha's Challenge Cover Art Development

By rath8325 - Posted on 06 September 2011

I thought this discussion would be fun to share with fans, both here and on FB. Sheila and I edited it to remove non-essentials and personal stuff.

Ratha's Challenge Cover Discussion from the Imaginator Press website

03/15 - 6/19/2011

Ratha's Challenge cover

By SheilaRuth ~ Posted Tue, 03/15/2011 - 17:47
Now that we have Creature launched, I'd like to get moving on Challenge. It has been out of print for too long, and I'm anxious to get it back into print. Do either of you have any thoughts or ideas about the cover? My first thought is that it should have Thistle and Quiet Hunter, as the two who will bridge the two cultures. What do you think?

Lashmit on Wed, 03/16/2011 - 06:14.
I've been thinking on.
One idea was to have Ratha, Thistle and Quiet Hunter (and yes, I REALLY want to get him on the cover . . . ( kind of a shame I couldn't get Bonechewer on Ratha’s Creature but there would have been no room for him on the back) against a backdrop of identical cat-faces suggested in a swirling fog or dust cloud. More "symbolic" than realistic, like how I did Clan Ground.

SheilaRuth on Wed, 03/16/2011 - 10:28.
I like that idea!

SheilaRuth on Thu, 03/17/2011 - 14:14.
Maybe Quiet Hunter could be partially obscured like he's coming out of the fog, if that makes sense.

rathacat on Thu, 03/17/2011 - 17:15.
I really like that idea. Having Quiet Hunter coming out of the fog is an intriguing way to suggest his transition. [From being embedded in a group mind to achieving individual self-awareness. CB 08/01/2011 ]

Lashmit on Thu, 03/17/2011 - 17:39.
Oooo, yeah!

Lashmit on Thu, 03/17/2011 - 17:41.
Clare, do you have any notes for me on how the hunters should appear as opposed to the Named? I haven't had a chance to reread yet (this wknd!) but my impression/memories is that they're more of a dun color, and Quiet Hunter specifically has amber eyes.

rathacat on Mon, 03/28/2011 - 12:08.
Hi Lew,
Sorry I haven't been participating in this discussion, but weather and other factors have kept me offline. I just saw the two Mammoth Sunrise images and was impressed with those concepts.
The hunter tribe are mostly dull-colored so that they blend into the landscape and resemble each other. I did describe them as 'dun' in the book, which I think is a shade of light brown. True-of-voice is described as gray with white on belly chest and throat. He is also described as having "a good set of teeth", so the fang-tips may show outside the mouth.
The Named have much more variation, tawny-gold (Ratha) reddish-gold long-hair (Bira), light sand-color
(Fessran), copper (Thakur and Bonechewer), gray with silver tipping on face and feet (Ashon), etc.
I also like the idea of having Quiet Hunter emerging from the fog. Are you going to work that into one or both of the concept images? I'm assuming I saw the most recent pictures. Quiet Hunter's eyes are described as amber, and honey-colored, meaning that they have the sort of translucency as you would see if you looked at a light source through a jar of honey.
If you do work in Quiet Hunter emerging from the fog, you might show him with one paw extended over the mammoth skull tusk, as if he is stepping past it toward Ratha and her torch. If there are more recent images I haven't seen, can you post a link here?
Beautiful work so far on all the covers, and concepts!

rathacat on Mon, 03/28/2011 - 12:42.
'Dun' is defined as a grayish brown color, with a color sample shown. I was mistaken in describing it as light brown. Forget that description and go with the word definition.
Here's the effect of the 'dun gene' on coat coloration in horses, just for fun and reference:

Lashmit on Wed, 03/30/2011 - 08:29.
No worries on the late reply - I've been busy pulling overnight shifts at work (ugh, inventory).
Been going through the book and taking notes. I was big into horseback riding when I was a kid, so when you described QH as dun I automatically pictured him that color, with darker legs, the stripe along the spine, and a dark mask across the eyes. I also imagine the hunters as being bigger-boned and shaggier than the Named. Sort of like a neanderthal version, a little wilder and rougher, maybe because they hunt larger prey.
I'm also working on the emerging from the fog idea, it's a bit harder to stage so I painted these up first. I did enjoy True looking all mystical and Aslan-like LOL The one I'm working on now doesn't have the skull, it has Ratha in the foreground and Thistle and QH emerging from the fog, with QH slightly further back and leaning on Thistle for support.

SheilaRuth on Wed, 03/30/2011 - 17:34.
I do like the mammoth tusk pictures and True in his Aslan pose. I love the lighting on the one with the fire, how the light reflects on True's face. It can also be symbolic of the way the hunters were influenced by contact with the Named.
Look forward to seeing the fog comps.

rathacat on Thu, 03/31/2011 - 10:15.
Ooooo, sounds really neat! Will they be in the same folder as the mammoth skull ones (the link I gave Sheila)?
Yes, True does look very Aslan-like. I didn't think of that before, but it fits. Yes, the hunters are bigger-boned and shaggy, so that works as well. /CB

SheilaRuth on Thu, 04/07/2011 - 10:37.
Love the new fog #1 picture! Are there others coming?

rathacat on Fri, 04/08/2011 - 13:34.
I like this too. It is really going to be hard to make a choice among all these. /CB

SheilaRuth on Fri, 04/08/2011 - 15:18.
I agree! I love all of them.

rathacat on Mon, 04/11/2011 - 11:43.
Hi folks,
Haven't seen much on this page in the last few days. Just checking to see if I missed anything. CB

Lashmit on Mon, 04/11/2011 - 18:24.
Oh, you two. You're so good for my ego XD
Yep, there's another coming. Similar but from a different angle, and with cat faces in the fog. Have to admit, I'm kind of leaning towards the mammoth skull as a framing device.

rathacat on Mon, 04/11/2011 - 21:54.
Yes, the mammoth skull is really striking, especially the way you used it. Had one thought, and that is, would it be too busy to show Thistle and Quiet Hunter as some of of the cats in the fog in the mammoth skull one , but they are stepping out of the fog and over the great curling tusk as if it some sort of a threshold. Just a suggestion. Use it if you want. I'm glad us two are good for your ego. ;>

Lashmit on Wed, 04/13/2011 - 19:30.
I'm kind of floored . . . I had the exact same thought! Not telepathic, are you? XD

SheilaRuth on Thu, 04/14/2011 - 05:32.
I'd click the "Like" button if there was one here. Sounds like a great idea.

rathacat on Thu, 04/14/2011 - 15:39.
I didn't think I was telepathic.... Maybe we're all just tuned into the Song. ;> Anyway, I'll be curious to see what you do with the idea, Lew. Thanks again, CB

SheilaRuth on Thu, 04/14/2011 - 19:13.
Ooooh, the Song! That must be it. Scary!

Lashmit on Mon, 04/18/2011 - 13:58.
I'm having trouble coming with ideas I like for this cover . . . if you guys have any ideas, please tell me!
Right now I do like the mammoth skull, with Thistle and QH stepping closer as Clare said. I think I'd like to just go ahead and go with that image if it's OK.

SheilaRuth on Tue, 04/19/2011 - 10:48.
I like that idea, but is it possible to see a comp, even just a rough one? I'm not a very visual person, and it would help me to see even a rough sketch of what you envision the layout to be.

rathacat on Tue, 04/19/2011 - 17:37.
Would it be like the Mammoth and Flame one? I.e. True-of-Voice atop the mammoth skull, sun rising behind him, Ratha in foreground with flame, facetail hunters behind mammoth tusk enshrouded in fog, Quiet and Thistle (could cut and paste from Fog #1?) stepping over the mammoth tusk, emerging from the fog. I really like this idea, if it isn't too complicated. I also really like how you did Thistle and Quiet in Fog #1, so I envision something that is a combination of those two images. /CB

SheilaRuth on Tue, 04/19/2011 - 18:08.
I don't know, having True-of-Voice and Ratha and Quiet and Thistle might be too busy for one image. I like the idea of Quiet and Thistle coming out framed by the mammoth tusk, but I'm not sure it would work to have all four cats in the same image.

Lashmit on Tue, 04/19/2011 - 18:43.
I can do a quick sketch of this . . . I think having Ratha framed by one tusk and the kids by the other would work, and I could sink the other hunters further into the fog to keep it from becoming too busy.

SheilaRuth on Wed, 04/20/2011 - 05:30.
That sounds like it would work. Yes, if you could do a quick sketch, I'd appreciate it. It doesn't even have to be in color; just something to see the layout.

rathacat on Wed, 04/20/2011 - 16:49.
Sounds good to me as well.

Lashmit on Mon, 05/02/2011 - 11:00.
Ok, they're up.

rathacat on Mon, 05/02/2011 - 11:23.
Hi Lew,
I saw the "Everyone" color comp, and I like it, especially how you've positioned Quiet Hunter, with his tail protectively across Thistle's back (I think), and adding Ratharee on the back of Ratha's neck. Sheila, what do you think? Thanks for doing the color comp and the sketch. CB

SheilaRuth on Mon, 05/02/2011 - 20:57.
OK, I like it! I do think it works. I agree, I like the addition of Ratharee (or is it actually Biaree, visiting Ratha?) Anyway, let's go for it!

rathacat on Tue, 05/03/2011 - 10:32.
Yes, I agree. Let's do it! The treeling could be either Ratharee or Biaree, although I think Biaree got more on-stage time than Ratharee in this book. Uh, maybe I should check? X;P (kitty sticking tongue out of corner of mouth). As always, nice work Lew! Good cover discussion, everyone. I really enjoyed this.

SheilaRuth on Tue, 05/03/2011 - 11:32.
If I remember right, Ratha didn't even bring Ratharee with her. Biaree did play a crucial role in rescuing True, so I think it would be better to say it's Biaree. Composition-wise, it wouldn't work having Biaree on Thistle-chaser, and I think it works great on Ratha. The treelings do sometimes "visit" other Named besides their bonded one, so it's not unreasonable to say that Biaree is sitting on Ratha.

rathacat on Wed, 05/04/2011 - 11:35.
Yep, it's Biaree, and he looks good on Ratha. The treelings do visit from one clan cat to another. I did that in order to solve the "what do I do with the treeling" problem during fight scenes, action scenes, or large ensemble scenes, where one more critter would get confusing. Since Bira is really good with the treelings, she sometimes ends up loaded with a whole bunch of them. Also, Thakur, when all the babies come back to visit Mama Aree. Then, the only parts of him you can see are his tail, his nose and his legs. /CB

Lashmit on Wed, 05/04/2011 - 18:24.
Sorry it took so long. I did really want to get a treeling in there since they're vital to how the named society is evolving. And yes, I wanted that little bit of feline body language in there. It's so cute when cats do that.

Lashmit on Wed, 05/04/2011 - 18:25.
Oh man, I NEED to draw that now! XD [Thakur covered in treelings from nose to tail. - CB 08/01/2011]

Lashmit on Wed, 05/04/2011 - 18:27.
Quick question - is the size of the treeling correct? I'm going by the smilodectes skeleton at the Smithsonian, which is the only prehistoric lemur fossil I've seen in person, it looks like it's about the size of a smallish housecat.

SheilaRuth on Thu, 05/05/2011 - 08:54.
LOL, I can just imagine that. [Thakur covered in treelings from nose to tail. - CB 08/01/2011]

rathacat on Wed, 05/18/2011 - 09:46.
Hi Lew,
Sorry I didn't get back to you. The treeling looks fine in your comp.

Lashmit on Sun, 06/19/2011 - 09:16.
FYI I'm a few days away from finishing the cover!

SheilaRuth on Sun, 06/19/2011 - 16:36.
Terrific news! I can't wait to see it. .

And here is the final result:


Random image

Clare Bell - Photo by Chuck Piper 2006

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