Winter’s Heart, volume nine in Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, will be available in ebook form June 22nd. In celebration of Jordan’s work, we have commissioned fourteen artists to interpret one of the Wheel of Time books in their own style. (Previous editions can be seen here. The first seven ebooks can be purchased here.)
For Winter’s Heart, we asked Scott Fischer to tackle one of the most momentous scenes of the series, “the cleansing.” For the uninitiated, this post contains spoilers. For these that do not mind such things...it portrays Rand attempting to harness an incredible power, one that can literally crack the world in half.
As Jason Denzel from Dragonmount told me,
The cleansing of saidin is one of the most iconic moments in The Wheel of Time. For 3,000 years nothing has been more feared than a man who can channel. The taint upon saidin led not only to the devastation of an entire Age, but very nearly at times to the extinction of humankind itself. To say that Rand’s action here is significant is a gross understatement. By removing the taint, he is allowing an entire future generation of male channelers an opportunity to exist. He's giving the world some hope. Perhaps he's even giving himself a fighting chance to survive long enough to make it to the Last Battle, where, if he fails, it may not matter one way or the other in the end.
I wanted to see Rand again; it had been a while since he made an appearance on the ebook covers and we had yet to see him in full hero mode. On the other hand, I knew it would be impossible to portray that much power without it becoming a caricature. In the end I asked Scott if he could help us out with the cover, knowing he could create a fantastic character study of Rand, one that fans would immediately connect with their knowledge of the story and newcomers would see simply as the heroic-but-tested noble lead.
The essential elements—Rand, statue, and a hint of the city Shadar Logoth—were fairly easy to establish. All the work came down to refining the portrait and the balance between how much power we could show before it became too chaotic and distracting.
Last night, during the week-long Illustration Master Class, Scott presented a step-by-step lecture of Winter’s Heart. He works fluidly between digital and traditional media. He is the master of bending reference material to his will: scanning in shapes, images, and textures, altering them, layering and evenetually arriving at a cohesive, beautifuly rendered piece. Scott turns into handsome Rand, the bottom of a plastic soda bottle becomes the starting point of a magical glowing orb, gun holster leather becomes embroidery. The secret, it turns out, is constantly layering good drawing skills on top of all that shapeshifting. For the artists in the audience, let me repeat the important part: the secret is layering good drawing skills on top of all the reference.
Scott, never shy and always a sweetheart, agreed to let us show some of his slides from last night’s lecture. These are screenshots from his computer as he was working.
Scott as Rand in red hoodie.
Drawing on top, maybe a bit too “Flock of Seagulls” but starting to take shape.
Reworking the face.
Details starting to take shape. We liked the glowing blue eyes, but in the end, we decided that it looked a little too Dune.
To keep up with all of our Wheel of Time posts, including information on the ebook releases, check out our Wheel of Time Index.
For the full-sized cover image, check out Dragonmount’s Winter’s Heart feature.
To see more of Scott Fischer’s illustration and children’s books, please visit his website.