Take a look at the new art Tor Books has comissioned for the trade paperback edition of A Crown of Swords, volume 7 in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series!
When it came time to print the trade paperback editions, editor Harriet McDougal asked if we could depict the scene where Cadsuane meets Rand for the first time. It’s a great moment in the book but I feared it might be a difficult one to depict, being a cinematically quiet test of wills. Luckily, artist Tyler Jacobson pulled it off with flying colors.
I met Tyler a few years ago when I went to a portfolio review at Academy of Art University in San Fransisco and have been watching his career ever since. I needed someone that understood the fantasy aesthetic and could handle a crowd scene—Tyler’s name came to mind pretty quickly. Not only did he manage to get all those characters into a small space, he was able to capture the sense of tension embedded in the scene. Not an easy task in a still image.
Tyler says, “I was very honored to be allowed to work on the Wheel of Time series. It was really great to contribute to a set of books that not only have such a great following, but have also had an amazing lineup of artists creating beautiful covers. What I found particularly fun and challenging on this piece was creating a sense of anticipation and tension. I also wanted to develop a tight space and provide the viewer with some open questions that might draw them in, like who are these people and what the heck is going to happen next?”
Below you can see his paintng process step-by step.
The initial sketches:
I knew I had gone to the right artist as soon as I saw these sketces. What seemed to me to be a compositional nightmare was clearly not a problem for him.
The first one got a good amount of movement in a static scene, and I like that Cadsuane is a pillar of calm and unperturbed by the crowd, but it was a bit more expected than the other two compositions.
I also really liked the third sketch, it was a great way to show Cadsuane’s strength and calm even while faced with a room full of Asha’man on guard. The trouble was, Asha’man didn’t use spears and I didn’t think the swords would work in their place. There was also a height issue between Rand and Cadsuane.
The middle seemed just right. She enters a room full of pent-up agression with strength and poise, completely confident, as befits her status as a near-legendary Aes Sedai.
The final drawing. Note this is before we swapped the spears for swords.
And here you can follow his painting style through a number of steps. It is interesting that, although he is painting digitally, he following a very traditional technique by blocking in all the values first and then slowly introducing color.
And the final art!
Irene Gallo is the Art Director for Tor Books.