-By Dan dos Santos

Here is a new piece I just finished up for Tor Books, for the novel ‘Forged in Fire’ by J.A. Pitts. This piece is the third painting in the ‘Sarah Beauhall’ series, the second of which I shared recently HERE on Muddy Colors.

With the exception of the dragon’s eyes and the red smoke emanating from the sword, the piece is painted entirely in oils. Though, I expect now that I’ve figured out what looks good, I will probably go back into the painting and make these adjustments to the original as well. This is quite typical of the manner in which I work. I usually get to a certain stage in the painting where guesswork is really detrimental to my deadline. So instead, I take a photo of the painting, bring it into Photoshop, and figure it all out there. Once I find a solution to my problem, I go back into the original with a concise game-plan.

I submitted four different sketches for this job, a little more than my usual. Below is one of the alternate concepts that was unused.

The cover concept proved to be a little bit tricky. Despite being set in modern day, the heroine battles a dragon while clad in traditional chainmail garb. Meanwhile, druid-loooking henchmen with magical abilities battle all around her. Because there were no real modern cues in this scene, it threatened to make the cover look like a high fantasy novel, rather than urban fantasy. To avoid this, I opted to omit the druids from the painting, and instead insert the Ducati from the second cover. It may not be as accurate to the scene, but I do feel it better captured the flavor of the story as a whole.

Lastly, here is a detail of the painting. In it’s entirety, the original art measures 18 x 27 inches.