Dec 1 2009 3:00pm

The Dragon Reborn ebook cover by Donato Giancola

The Dragon Reborn, ebook cover art by Donato

The third Wheel of Time ebook, The Dragon Reborn, will be available December 15th. If you are jumping in new: We are commissioning fourteen artists to create new covers for this series, each taking on one of the fourteen Wheel of Time books with their own interpretation of Robert Jordan’s world. (Previous posts here. You can purchase the first two ebooks here.)

Of course, no fantasy art series can be complete without Donato Giancola. Donato is great at, well, just about any kind of picture making, but among them he is particularly good at creating compelling quiet moments that get into the psychology of the characters. With plenty of battle sequences to come (*ahem* Dumai’s Wells *coughcough*) Donato decided to take on a contemplative emblematic moment rather than a literal page from the book. I asked him how he came to the scene he painted:

The character of Rand al'Thor is a reluctant player in the destiny foretold for him within the complexities of the Wheel of Time. Rather than focusing on the conflicts, battles, and web of political maneuverings Robert Jordan brings to life within these novels, I wanted to portray the character grappling with an internal struggle the common reader can more easily relate to through their own experiences. The choices (or lack there of) Rand had before him provided us with a glimpse into this figure's past as an average, down to earth person.

The choice between the sword and the flute for me, exemplifies the issues Rand has engaged on the path in becoming the Dragon Reborn. He must turn is back on the simple life he had previously known, and embrace his destiny. It was this transformation I found most interesting as a challenge to illustrate, forsaking all the wonderful magical moments and epic conquests which could easily have produced a striking image. But this personal dilemma simply seemed more human, representing a difficult psychological change in the character and reflected the basic theme within the novel.

Donato, The Dragon Reborn sketch

This was the thumbnail sketch Donato handed in. A very lyrical moment and I knew Donato was chomping at the bit to paint that dappled light. His thumbnails are always very loose, with all the elements drawn from his head, they often start out as scribbles that start to form shapes. He keeps a sketchbook of these and if you ever see him carrying it at a convention, ask him if you can take  a look. It’s a great experience to see these spontaneous unfiltered thoughts.

Dragon Reborn, reference

Despite the loose beginning, Donato, like most artists, utilize photo reference to accomplish the final painting. Here he used a young illustrator, Grant Newton, for the model. Illustrators often find that fellow artists are the best models. Professional models are trained to “look good” and often unconsciously fight against letting themselves get too hidden away or are unable to sacrifice “pretty” for the more emotive expression.

Donato, The Dragon Reborn sketch

At this point we can start seeing the details. I started to worry that Rand looked a bit to wistful here, more like  a young man in love than a young man with some heavy decisions to make. (“Thank yous” to  Leigh Butler and and Jason Denzel for letting me know the sword needed to be a katana.)

Donato, The Dragon Reborn sketch

This one seem to have over compensated  bit. Like, “Look. At. This. Flute!” (insert your best William Shatner impersonation.) The flute is  a great symbol but it shouldn't take over the story from Rand. I asked Donato to turn his head the other way in a kind of thoughtful daze.

The Dragon Reborn, Donato

And here we are. All we had to do now was debate how red red hair is. (I have since made a chart of red haired men that I will now send to any future artists... Yes, it was actually my job to google “red-haired men” for about 20 minutes.)

You can check out more of Donato’s work on his website and Tor.com gallery.
Posts on previous Wheel of Time ebook covers here.
And, stay tuned: Next up is Sam Weber on The Shadow Rising.

Irene Gallo is the art director for Tor, Forge, and Starscape books, and Tor.com.

Kate Nepveu
1. katenepveu
a chart of red haired men that I will now send to any future artists

That is awesome.

As is the art.
Richard Fife
2. R.Fife
That is 10 sorts of awesome (oh, wait, 12.... no 14!) ahem.

I eagerly await the next one.
Jason Denzel
3. JasonDenzel
Hi folks,

Here's a slightly larger version, as well as a close-up of Rand. (Thanks, Irene!)

4. jlabeatnik
Very cool cover... and I loved seeing the process!!!
Dominick Saponaro
5. SwashbuckleDom
Thanks Irene. Great insight into Donato's process as usual. On a side note though Id love to have the option to see the images a bit larger (not just this post but in general throughout the Tor.com site). I know you guys are revamping the site in the near future. Has there been any discussions on this? Is this a possibility? Probably on the lower end of the priority scale but I figured Id throw it out there any way. Im sure other artists would love this as well.
Agnes Kormendi
6. tapsi
Fantastic! Rand here actually looks like one of my cousins...
Pablo Defendini
7. pablodefendini

Click to embiggen by default is indeed in our specs for the update.
Irene Gallo
8. Irene
Thanks, all.

SwahbuckleDom - Dude, I have been begging for "click to enlarge" since the day we launched. I'm not sure why we haven't been able to do but for some reason we can't. But it is on the list of things to address, no doubt. But it'll take a while before we can get there.

In the meantime - Jason has a larger version of the cover up: Dragon Reborn
9. Sam Hogg
This is the kind of process I love seeing. It reminds me that using photo ref isn't cheating, and results in a wonderful image. Love the subtlety with which you've changed the pose through the process too, it captures much more of the 'inner strength, warring with heavy decisions', through a couple of minor changes to arm and head position. Lovely stuff, and really gets me thinking about my own art in such a fashion. Thanks to you and Donato for sharing.
10. robbadler
Why does Rand have a sword? Rand's sword melted at the end of TGH and he goes through the TDR with his saidin wrought sword.
Irene Gallo
11. Irene
10: yeah, we know. But the image isn't meant to be a literal scene. It's more about being in transition...the sword is Rand's future. That's been the fun of this. Since this set of covers are reevaluations of the books, we have the advantage of hindsight. Some will make big statements, others will make quieter ones.
Leigh Butler
12. leighdb
Lovely cover.

Rand's outfit is great, and the lighting, of course, is gorgeous. Not what I would have thought of for the cover, but in retrospect I agree that it works.

(And, glad I could be of assistance.)
Abdel Masdoua
13. TheDarkOne
Great cover, I really like it.
I feel like it gives us kind of an insight into that time when Rand was traveling alone and lost about his place in the world.

Well Done.
Irene Gallo
14. Irene
Leigh - you have no idea! being able to hear the readers thoughts of the books first hand via your posts has been invaluable. Thank you!
Sean Arthur
15. wsean
Wow, that's very cool. It makes a nice change to have a quiet, contemplative sort of scene rather than another kill-the-Trollocs thing.
Charles Valsechi
16. threecharles
Nice piece, definitely a good choice to turn the head away from the flute. Hand/wrist looks a bit funny but maybe its just me.
17. Freelancer
Impressive on several levels. I love the coloring, the lighting, the facial expression. A hearty well done to all who had a hand, and a big thank you to Irene for bringing us the "Making of..." pieces.

The pose is remarkably. . .honest. During Rand's struggles with his destiny, it's certain that he spent many moments sitting in slightly awkward positions, completely oblivious to anything but the mountain he's just beginning to realize he must bear.

And now for the nitpick. If it was important to make the sword in this "non-literal" scene a katana, it might as well have had the angled crossguard, or even the knotted braid version which Tam's sword had.
18. Aellinsar
I can't say I like this one nearly as well as the other two e-book covers. I realize that this is supposed ot be picturing a "theme" rather than an actual scene from the book, but I'd rather have a scene.

I cannot picture Rand sitting on the Dragon Banner like it was a blanket for a picnic, and the flute/sword is far too remniscent of the axe/hammer debate. Interesting debate, but the wrong character. Rand does struggle with his destiny, but not in the same way.
19. bcarman
Great stuff! But now I gotta see that red-haired guys chart. You must make a post of it.
Irene Gallo
20. Irene
The redness of Rand!

(As you can see, i didn't exactly go all-out on the information design...but there you have it.)

Christine Evelyn Squires
21. ces
Censorship is alive and well I see!
Irene Gallo
22. Irene
@21 Ces - not sure what you mean. Feel free to leave a note here or email me privately if anything is amiss. irene.gallo@tor.com
Marcus W
23. toryx
I actually prefered the image of Rand regarding the flute, rather than looking away. And as has also been mentioned, I'd have preferred that there was no sword at all though I understand why the choice was made to include it. It's hardly a fantasy cover without a sword or beast on there somewhere.

I've never liked covers that don't actually relate to a scene in the actual book but given how rarely covers actually depict true scenes from the novels they're portraying, I'm used to it.

The image is definitely well crafted and I enjoyed getting a snapshot of the process.
24. robbadler
@11: I realize that. I guess I was asking because a friend and I were discussing whether the scene more closely matched Rand at the start of the book, in the valley before running away for Tear, or later in the book, when he is sitting under a tree playing the flute before darkfriends/hounds come for him.
Regardless, I do like these new covers a lot!
Mike Castle
25. MikeCastle
Nice touches to an already renowned storyline. It is great to see the whole process uncovered (pardon the pun), and I hope the remaining book covers are as equally thought out.
26. Olive Clay Perrin
i did love perrin, of coarse!!!! even mat. however, long live rand al'thor!!!!!!!!!!!! the dragon reborn should of been perrin!!!!
Irene Gallo
27. Irene
Apologies, Olive. ;-) Another fun aspect of this series is realizing we don;t need to show the main hero each time. I can't say much, but I can say we'll miss Rand for the next book or two. And then be very happy to see him back after.

We've been giving a lot of freedom to explore...We're just starting to learn how to spread our wings.
28. Planeswalker
Hi Irene,

does this mean the next cover will be showing the antagonists? Luc/Slayer? A forsaken perhaps? Moghedien? Or maybe Selene/Lanfear when she reveals herself to Rand?

Rand with Callandor had already too many depictions. To represent the theme of "The Shadow Rising", it would have to be an enemy present in Book 4. Is it too much of a risk to draw the 'most beautiful' lady in Randland?

Wow. we've really got beautiful covers for the e-book. Good job and congrats on everyone working on this! :)
Irene Gallo
29. Irene
Planeswalker - You're killing me --The truth is, this whole process has got me hooked. I wish we could go back and do these ten times over.

There is a rough plan in place for the rest of the series but, stealing an idea from JasonD: What are everyone's favorite scenes from Crown of Swords out?
Justin Levitt
30. TyranAmiros
My favorite scene in Crown of Swords has to be something from Mat in Ebou Dar--maybe when he's drunk with Brigitte or his first encounter with Tylin.

Path of Daggers--when the Bowl is used

Winter's Heart--has to be either the Cleansing or when Elayne wakes up to a golden rose.

Crossroads of Twilight--hmmm...

Knife of Dreams--Semirhage's reveal or Nynaeve sending Lan on his mission

Gathering Storm--Egwene at the Seanchan raid or Rand on Dragonmount
Grant Newton
31. GrantNewton
Thanks for posting the whole process Irene! Love seeing the steps between the beginning and end! I always have a blast helping out on these guys :)
Lianne Burwell
32. LKBurwell
Lovely. Any chance we might eventually see the series reprinted with the Donato covers? I used to love Darrel K Sweet's work, but more recent covers have done little for me. These covers would get me to buy them all over again.
33. shadowkiller
Great art but why don't the ebooks have table of contents links?
Rob Munnelly
34. RobMRobM
30. Good choices but a lot depends in which characters got covers to this point - diversity is probably a good thing. Most of major characters should get at least one cover. Perhaps also consider:
- Mat battling the gholam with medallion in hand in CoS;
- Egwene on the frozen lake in PoD;
- Tuon coming on her ship with guards and damane under a veil in WH;
- something with Perrin in Crossroads of Twilight (or, if he is left out to this point, marching down at Malden with Aram at his side in KoD);
- Nyn raising the Golden Crane (after dropping Lan off)in KoD.
35. lord goldeneyes
i must say, it is 9 kinds of better than the origional that is printed on the cover of physical edition.... but, the pose looked occward, it looks as if he is looking to see someone that is coming up to him on his left, and he has an expression that says he doesn't like them. i believe if you had made his shoulders so that he is more facing forward and looking down past the blade and flute it would have captured the idea i felt the artist wished to portray. it would be kind of a compromise between looking at the flute and the "hey what was that sound" pose that made the final cut. just my humble opinion, and artists eye. i still say it is way way better than what the joke of an artist did for the origional. i say whoever does that stuff should stick with romance novels

and Olive Clay Perrin, i'm all about perrin too but think about it, perrin is having a hard enough time just being the wolf king. do you really wanna see him go insane? i mean look at what the pressures of being dragon and all the responsabilities that it entails has done to the poor sheep hearder. at least LTT is out of his head now
36. Planeswalker
Sorry Irene. :) We'll start with aCoS suggestions then.

As for aCoS, we can have Rand sitting on the Illian throne with Ashaman standing by his side. The throne room is in total shambles... Although, I also like the scene suggested by RobMRobM with Mat fighting the golam...

I can't think of anything for PoD this time. Elayne? too much throne theme already... Perrin and the Prophet? Nah, uninteresting i guess... I'll agree it may have to be Egwene's scene this time... I can't think of anything though...

Winter's Heart.. hmmm.. I really wanted a portrayal of the cleansing, but it feels like too much of a cliche. I guess we can show Andor and its struggles with the winter season. Birgitte in the cover would be awesome...

Too much Perrin in CoT. A scene of the meeting of Perrin and the Seanchan maybe. Or Mat and Tuon together. CoT seems to indicate a theme of an impending big decision wherein you have two choices and both are correct but having completely opposite effects. Thus it will have to do with our heroes making allies with the Seanchan...

I kinda like the quote here: The sweetness of victory and the bitterness of defeat are alike a knife of dreams.
In this case, we have to portray both a victor and a loser in the scene. What more than Rand confused and standing with a bloodied left hand and Semiraghe kneeling but smiling (revealing Rand hearing LTT's voice)... Though any of Perrin's, Mat's, and Egwene's struggles also provide good scenes.

I guess that's a lot of suggestions already. Though all I really wanted is to see Min and Mierin in one of the covers someday. :)
Irene Gallo
37. Irene
Thank you guys! As I say, a lot has been sketched out, but this really _does_ help me think about the series more holistically. It’ll help adjust and/or solidify a few decisions.
Harry Burger
38. Lightbringer
@29 - Who says you can't? It might not make it onto the cover of a book, but if the inspiration strikes, run with it!
39. dowellrl
Easy for Me:

aCoS: The blefire cross.

tPoD: Definitely the scene from A Cup of Sleep, or the Asha'man attack on Rand. Egwene on the ice would be cool, too.

WH: Has to be a scene of the Amayar around the melted Choeden Kal.

CoT: Valan Luca's troupe, with Mat Olver Tuon, etc.

KoD: So many to choose from, I personally like the scene from the epilogue. Red and black tiled floor, Taim and the Asha'man laughing.

tGS: Rand on Dragonmount. This should not even be up for discussion.
40. FellKnight
My input:

aCoS: I like the idea of Mat fighting the Gholam, though that might be tough to pull off. Alternatively, Rand breaking the crown of Cairhien. That was a epic scene. Finally, Rand vs Toram Riatin with Fain and Cadsuane in the background could be very well done.

PoD: I am surprised that the idea of Rand going nutso with Callandor in the forest hasn't gotten any love. I think that is the key moment of the book. Egwene on the ice would be good too, but I expect Egwene will only get 1 cover, and IMO it should be the Tower/To'raken scene from tGS. Also very much like the idea from elsewhere to show the baddies here, specifically Moridin (maybe with Cyndane and Moghedien's cour'souvras in the background).

WH: The cleansing scene with the focus on Rand and Nynaeve kneeling in the center of a clearing and an epic battle in the background seems to be the most Epic. Rand holding Lan over the rooftop would be awesome too.

CoT: Perrin needs some love at some point, and since he didn't get it in tSR, this has to be the one. There are no good "scenes" with Perrin in this book, though, so I'd go for a contemplative Hammer vs Axe pose. Alternatively, Perrin and Aram reenacting Egwene's dream (hacking through brambles, moving toward a cliff).

KoD: The crowning of Elayne gets my vote. This has great potential for a great fantasy cover. If Perrin does not get the last book, then his reunion with Faile would be a good choice here too.

tGS: As above, I have to go with the tower raid. This scene was one of the few times that, without trying, the full image came to me unbidden while reading the scene... and it was Awesome. The other choice I would have, thematically, would be Rand meeting Tuon, and the aura of darkness around Rand. This would be very appropriate for the overall theme of the book without giving too much of the plot away.

42. Hiedi N.R
Well, its better than the ones on my current books. So kudos for that!
43. Eric in LA
I'm kind of at a loss of words as to why sony is selling all the ebooks with the new covers except for "The Dragon Reborn". I contacted sony and they said its not their fault but Tor's fault. Tor has yet to respond to me about this matter.
44. DavidS
A chart of redness of hair for future artists? Could I have it even if I am already one? ;)

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