Revealing the Cover to Oathbringer, the Third Book in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive

We are excited to reveal artist Michael Whelan‘s cover to the U.S. edition of Oathbringer, the much-awaited third book in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive fantasy series.

“We’re centered on a scene where Jasnah confronts the invaders,” Whelan says of the cover. “A giant has smashed a breach in the city wall, and Jasnah is called upon to restore it.”

“After dispatching several invaders with her Shardblade sword, she covers the gap with a brassy wall of magical metal. It’s a very visual scene, in which I saw a lot of possibilities for good images.”

Jasnah fighting a giant is a strong, evocative image [see: Where Does the Cover to Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer Take Place?] and Whelan’s initial sketches for the cover to Oathbringer focused on building the visual up:

“[These illustrations] are simple color experiments, playing around with creating lightning effects by painting in an acrylic wash them scribing out the lightning with a sharpened chopstick.”

Oathbringer cover background

Art by Michael Whelan

Oathbringer cover background

Art by Michael Whelan

“This is one of the various layout ideas I sketched out for the book cover. I picked the most likely of the pencil sketches and painted them as monochrome value studies, and –”

Oathbringer cover sketch

Art by Michael Whelan

“This is an example of one of them.”

Oathbringer cover comp

Art by Michael Whelan

“This illustration is the one that was selected. I did a small [only 3 inches wide] sketch of the colors I planned for the picture, then went to work on the large and final version.”

Oathbringer cover comp smaller

Art by Michael Whelan

“With the next illustration, I had laid in the general areas of color but decided it wasn’t going well. Upon consideration I realized the rocks I had painted into the wall were too distracting, so I repainted them in a simpler and – I hope!– less confusing pattern.The rest of it was just trying to get the image to match the picture I saw in my head.”

Oathbringer cover color sketch

Art by Michael Whelan

With that, the final cover was beginning to take shape.

“Brandon doesn’t elaborate on the formation of the metal which Jasnah casts up to shore up the stone wall,” says Whelan. “But in my mind I saw it as an organic process which, though metallic in texture, would have the appearance of “growing” in to fill the breach, like a stop-motion film of a mold growing or a flower opening. That lead me to thinking of using fractal patterns to define the growing shape of the metallic wall.”

Oathbringer cover draft

Art by Michael Whelan

Refinement of the cover proceeded from there, until finally…

Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson full cover art by Michael Whelan

Oathbringer, Book 3 of the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson is currently scheduled for release on November 14, 2017. It is available for pre-order now.


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