The Freedom Maze – cover art

Delia Sherman’s new novel The Freedom Maze is (very well) reviewed and out and launched and everything.

So here, in celebration, is a little about the cover.

The initial brief was for a girl with a yellow parasol in a maze (this was to be quite a fast turnaround, so the sketches are very loose). These are the thumbnails I sent – pencil with digital colour. The composition of 6b is my favourite:

Freedom Maze - thumbnails round 2

On consideration, it was decided that characters from both time periods should be in the picture, which meant changing the layout and looking at a lot of 1960s suit patterns and wishing I could grow up to be Nancy Drew:

Freedom Maze - thumbnails round 2

The faceless mystery of the characters in 8 was preferred, so I agonised for a while until Aimee arrived and struck a pose for reference. Then I sketched up and inked the picture – continuing the hedge so that it could be a texture for the back. I would usually have sent a copy through for approval at that point, but time was short and timezones were offset, so I scanned, coloured and added a layer of old paper from one of my books.

Freedom Maze - first cover

That is the version which is on all the web previews. There were, however, three final adjustments: I moved Sophie’s foot and hand (this was the hardest part), joined front and back into a wraparound image, and finally (but most importantly) replaced the statue of “Belle Watling” on the back with Antigua.

Freedom Maze - final cover

The peculiar perspective is deliberate, and works when cropped and wrapped.

Edited to add: Here is the final cover – with bonus Gregory Maguire: Freedom Maze final cover (Small Beer Press)

10 thoughts on “The Freedom Maze – cover art

  1. I love this post, because I always enjoy insights into other people’s creative process. This is my only big grumble about Terry Pratchett … he destroys all his notes and drafts because he doesn’t want scholars and academics ‘picking’ them over when he is gone. This post is a lesson is creativity is hard work. Your illustrations always look so effortless, and yet so much goes into getting them to look to perfect.

    • Thank you! I remember my parents taking me to see the manuscript of “The Man from Snowy River”, and them telling me, “See, even Banjo Patterson crossed out words and corrected his spelling!”.

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  3. I agree with Lynne – the insight into how you create these drawings is much appreciated. The closest I’ve ever come to seeing something like this process is seeing “storyboards” used in advertising development…and this process reminds me much of that. Edison said “genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration” and I begin to think the same thing could be said of creativity.

    • I think the early loose thumbnails are often similar – trying to get a feel for the movement and direction of the piece. I would qualify Edison slightly and say that about half of the “perspiration” is hard work and the other half pre-emptive anguish :)

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