The cover art for Book One of "The Saga of Beowulf" is the only piece of art in all my published works not done by myself. Rather, it was "commissioned" from my friend Dustin Neff, a filmmaker and digital illustrator who first introduced me to 3D rendering.
While working on an early draft of the manuscript for Book I, Dustin sent me the piece seen to the left, a quick digital composition inspired by the scene of Hondscio's death. Though rough, the piece captured vividly the dramatic nature of the scene, and impressed me so much that I asked if I could use it in my upcoming ad campaign. He agreed, but on condition that he be allowed to finish it. What he sent me next was a far cry from this first effort, vastly better in every respect. So much so, in fact, that I begged him to let me use it for the cover of the book!
First up was a new, higher resolution background plate, complete with cracks and blood spatters, as seen below...
This then received a quick composite to pose and position the primary foreground figures (left) and lock down the final layout before proceding with clothes and texturing (below). Lighting and color grading were worked out at this point as well, resulting in the muted, deathly pale color palette of the final image.
Dustin also employed the theory of "divine proportions" for this piece, as used by the grand masters of the arts, from Pythagoras to daVinci, by which universal pattens found throughout nature reveal harmonious geometrical dimensions. Here, the Fibonnaci spiral is laid upon the Golden Rectangle to create a quadrant with naturally balanced focal points around a central iris, known as the "Eye of God".
Finally, the background was populated with a host of fallen comrades to fill out the scene, as well as Grendel's severed arm hanging from a candelabra above - complete with groping shadow...
Below are two of the "blood splatter" tests done on Hondscio's corpse to show the ravages of Grendel's needle sharp claws. The first was done before final positioning was applied to the tunic skirt, or the belt added.
The image on the right shows the near-final composition, with lighting adjustments applied to accentuate the foreground figure and Grendel's arm - which ironically is seen here with no blood applied!
The raven-embossed round shield in this image was removed from the final version, as it was found to be too distracting, and upset the balance of the composition. It can, however, been seen leaning against a pillar in the background of the final composition, being far too cool to lose entirely.