Second book cover art – the whole process

16 October

Ray – Artist (Jorge Jacintos / JJCanvas)

Hi Jorge

The second book cover comes from a scene in the middle of the book. 

An eight year-old silverhair/siabaran (same kind of race as the guy who got assassinated on the first cover) travels to the far north to visit a holy place of his race. The place is called the Tears of the Mother – It is a waterfall that is the most holy place of a nature deity. I envisage this waterfall as one that originates neat the top of a peak that is the highest mountain in the area. The two eye of the mother are caves / holes in the mountain where the water flows from. This waterfall  freezes in winter, and the mountains would be mostly covered in snow. The most important scene in the book is when a boy is walking along the top of the frozen ice, and the spring thaw arrives, the boy falls with the collapsing ice into the water at the bottom of the fall and survives. It is not essential to have the boy on the cover, and equally not critical that the water is either ice or water. I kinda like ice collapsing and breaking the surface of the water below, but that or an ice detail or a water flowing detail could work. I am not sure how tricky ice is vs water etc. If you could add the falling boy in that’s cool, if you think it would be lost in the picture or don’t want to add him in that’s also cool.
Some ideas:
okay, you will see from the attached sketch why i don’t do art for a career, but hopefully it give you some idea of what i mean. The first picture is of the angel falls i like the volume of the falls height wise and the way there is a defined gorge the waterfall falls into. POV would be from bottom of falls looking up, or like in the picture from a plateau at a distance. This does look more like a waterfall falling off a plateau but I would prefer a waterfall originating near the top of a traditional (conical, pointy) mountain. The second picture is the detail – these are the eyes of the mother (this was actually a sea arch (hole in the wall south africa if you want other pictures) that shows the kind of hole in the mountain i am looking for. 
Third pic, dont laugh, is what i had in mind – twin waterfalls from a mountian, a couple of other snow covered peaks in the background. Maybe a dark cave giving an impression of a mouth. It does not need to be over the top, but looking at it you should have an idea why the worshippers there think of it as the eyes of a nature goddess. (Tricky, a recognisable natural feature, but not so over the top as to be ridiculous)

Some other pics that could serve as inspiration for holes / gaps – heaven’s gate in china. close up and distance picture.


And some artworrk that I like (you’ll probably recognise some of them :>). I really like them and think they’ll work with the theme.

I love the following picture because of the women statues / formations. This fits in perfectly with the idea that this is a holy place that only has female priestesses (like in my book). I think there are a few more in this pic because they are obviously the focus, but this kind of foreground with the waterfall in the background would be spectacular. I really like the viewpoint in that you feel you are at the bottom of the valley looking up. There is a sense of awe / grandeur.

Another example that works for me, kind of feel you are in the temple looking towards the mountain. Would need to see the waterfall in the distance, but really nice feel with the mist and snow and ice and pines.


This kind of vista also works well – you are standing at the actual temple (flame details or a few appropriate details in the foreground) looking out towards the holy site. Would prefer a few more trees around the base, more a mountain with forested foothills.

Some general thoughts on this. If you want to use an existing picture of yours as a base, and bring in the elements / expand the elements from above – I am perfectly happy with that approach. I am not precious about it being all totally original for this picture. Your himalaya inspired work is really cool, if you would find it fun to take some of that as a base and expand it, and that helps you pull this together – as long as nobody else paid you for the work and will be upset about reuse I am perfectly happy to go down that route (if you are). If you hate revisiting an existing work / bastardising it – I understand completely. If you think it would make it really easy for you to focus on the important stuff by using a previous work as a base – I am perfectly happy with that approach. Your call.
Kind Regards

19 October

Hi Ray
Regarding the second book cover – Wow ! That’s an awesome scene and I really can’t wait to start working on it! It’s really up my alley so it should be a lot of fun! Thank you for the detailed description and all the references!
I will try to get you the sketches by the end of this week!
17 November
Hi Ray !

I’m so sorry for the radio silence these past weeks! I’ve been working at home during my time freelancing but recently decided to move into an office to organize my time better, so these past 2 weeks I’ve been moving to the new space and taking care of a last few projects!
I’m starting on Tears of the Mother this week so you’ll definitely get those sketches soon! I’m very excited to start on it and also a bit nervous! Since it’s an image very much within my area of comfort I feel like I really need to deliver something great!

Sorry once again and I’ll update you soon!



30 November
Hello Ray!

It’s been quite a while since my last e-mail! I’m very sorry for the big delay on this. I was struggling with both time and also with the image itself. Took quite a few deleted canvas to get to these sketches, but hopefully you will like at least one of these!

Some notes:

– Including the falling character is very hard if we want to depict this sort of scale since the character would be extremely small. I can paint it in but it would be more of an “easter egg” instead of a focal point.

– On sketch number 2(my personal choice), having a character in the foreground looking up to the mountain would help the cover quite a lot. It would make for a better composition and also help with setting the scale. I’m not sure if this would make any sense within the story itself, so let me know what you think.

– These are, as always, just compositional sketches, so nothing here is final or set in stone – specially the color schemes, which I’m still a bit unsure about!

Let me know how do you feel about these – if they are far from what you had in mind don’t hesitate in telling me and I’ll do another couple of sketches!

Sorry once again for the delay and thank you for your patience!




1 December
Hi Jorge,

Thanks for these, 
1) Happy about the falling character, lets drop that idea.
2) I really like the first one. I tries to figure out why and I don’t know, but I think that the shadowed ridges in the mountain work better. I also think the moody sky add to it. As a book cover I think it will work better.
3) In terms of a figure. I like the idea of scale, but was wondering if it would be possible to do this by adding a small temple in the bottom right of the picture. There’s a gap in the snow and I was thinking something along the lines of Inca temple (In the attached picture).
Displaying Inca temple.Mysterious history.jpg
If possible I would love it if you could add a female statue on top – like your garden of nymphs picture – the pose on the far right. A stone figure arms back, staring up towards the waterfall makes a lot of sense in terms of the book. I can also work in that most of the temple is underground so there is no need to build a whole bunch of buildings – a single focus piece would be better.
 Displaying the garden of the nymphs.jpg
PS: I am travelling to thailand on sunday, so if there is anything you want comment on I am available this week (even if it is just a rough sketch). I’ll probably have recovered from the jet lag around wednesday next week, and will get a simcard there anyway so I should still be reachable, but if I go quiet for a few days it’s probably just because i am travelling about with my wife.
All the best,
PS: When I read this again. There is not much of a space on the bottom right. I was thinking of extending the current scene a bit further to the rigth so that the middle of the eyes would be 1/3 in from the left/top and the temple could be bottom right 1/3 from right /bottom (roughly).

I think that might work, but you’re the expert :> open to any suggestions on this.
2 December
Hi Ray!

Here is the update on the sketch with the temple. I also changed other things like adding a big cave on the bottom of the mountain so that we can see the waterfalls go towards the river below. I think it also gives a bit more personality to the mountain itself almost suggesting a mouth like you had previously said.
The scale on the mountain is still a bit off, but when I repaint everything and give it the correct amount of detail it should all make more sense to the eye!
Keep in mind that everything here is very rough (I even used the same statue from my other image just to be quicker) and I’ll probably start this one from scratch when going into the final – just want to make sure that you like the composition when it comes to lighting, colors, and overall placement of all the elements!

Looking forward to reading what you think! And as always, if there is something you don’t like ( even if it’s the whole thing!) don’t hesitate to tell me and I’ll redo it and try a different approach!


3 December
Hi Jorge,

I think that this is really is a big improvement from the first version. There are some small things, but the overall looks great. I would be very happy if you went ahead with this as the basis for the artwork.
The little suggestions / niggles:
  • Temple right hand side looks a bit out of whack, I am sure that this is as a result of you mashing it together quickly, I am not fussed if this is not a perfect pyramid, but would like it to be symmetrical. 
  • Position of temple, maybe move this needs to be a bit more to the left relative to the mountain  (I will leave this up to you, composition is not my game, it looks to me like the left eye of the waterfall needs to be further to the right / temple a bit to the left).  Your call on this, whether it needs to be done and how to do it.
  • An entrance at the base of the temple and something to scale the temple in the final artwork – maybe some thin penants leading to a doorway (suggestion is Japanese con types – see attached pic). It would be nice if you could see a few figures at the entrance to help with the size of the temple.

  • Back Cover – I have done a mockup of what I would like on the back cover. Mountians continued with three people looking into the distance

Inline images 2

  • I took part of your sketch old dragon god and used the platform from there as an example. The idea being that people are looking across a valley to see the rest of the picture. Ignore the figures in the example – I would like something where we can see three people looking towards the mountain. In terms of the actual people, there is the guy with the crossbow from the first book cover, a woman with braided white hair and a eight year old child. I love this part of your artwork the creature – if the crossbow guy could be holding the boys hand and pointing with a woman on one side: That would be fantastic.
Inline images 1 
The woman’s hair is pure white (like dead guy on first cover) and I imagine her braid to look something like this from behind. If you want to dramatize her with a windswept cloak or something – go mad as to posing etc. The above is my suggestion but as always I am open to ideas.

In closing, I really like what you have done with the light and the sky – the way the sunlight is illuminating the key points in the artwork. To me this was very clever, subtle but creates a great effect.
one other thing. I am really not fussed about “pure originality” – if you want to use one of the statues from a previous drawing and that makes it easier for you please feel free too. I loved the garden of the nymphs. If the statue is “transplanted” and blended into the pallet and this helps you – please go for it – it’s your call I am not precious about you using bits of work that you have already done. Same goes for bits in the snow. If you can “steal a bit” from other work and it makes it easier – done ever worry that i am going to complain that it is somewhere else in your pictures.

Bottom line – This is going to be an awesome cover, if you can use little tricks to make your life easier please feel free to do so.

5 December

Hi Ray!

Thank you for the detailed feedback ! 

Regarding this attachment that you might be finding a bit strange if you opened it already:
 I was fixing some of the things you requested in your e-mail and also adding the back cover to the image, but in all honesty, something was a bit off. The more time I spent with that piece the less I liked it for various reasons, but mostly because I don’t think the perspective and the mountain shape was giving it the correct feeling and portraying the scale/”epicness” to match your description, specially with the added back cover.
So here’s what I did : I took the other sketch and added in it some of the elements that you liked from the chosen piece, and sketched in the back cover as well. I really think that this works better on many levels, and will be even better when I start refining everything.

However, if you don’t like this version or still prefer the previous one that’s perfectly OK! I’ll add in the back cover to the previous one and send it for you to approve, then start refining it!

Let me know what you think of this, and I hope you don’t take it the wrong way! Please don’t hesitate in telling me if you prefer the previous iteration –  I just felt like I needed to show you something that I personally prefer for the sake of full “disclosure”, but the final word is always yours, obviously!



 Displaying TotM_sketch_2_2_complete.jpg

6 December

Hi Jorge,

Thanks for the work you put into it, I totally agree that the composition of the scene is much better. I love the figures, the rock they are standing on and the whole back cover plain section. Awesome.
The mountain. – The mountain bugs me and I spent a few hours last night trying to puzzle out why. I included the following sketch where I took the mountain from version 1 and flipped it horizontally and added it to the pic. I would much prefer it if you could do that / use this as a base. When I analysed it, the key things that differentiate it for me are:
  1. I prefer the cooler palette on the mountain,
  2. The gullies are more defined, I don’t like the flatness of this version – I prefer a slightly craggier surface.
  3. The waterfall works better for me with more water;
  4. I prefer the shape of the eye caves
  5. I prefer the way the mouth is more subtle on the other
  6. I love the light on the bottom of the waterfall and the frozen river
I apologize if any of this sounds harsh, I just wanted to highlight what I liked / did not like to make it easier for you to capture the mood. I’ve attached a paint mash up – where I’ve highlighted the things I like, and pointed out things I don’t.
In conclusion if the other version could be flipped and used for the basis of the mountain, and the composition from your version is kept I think it would look awesome. I am really excited about where this is going (hence why I felt bad about some of the I don’t like, don’t like etc – I feel like i am shooting down something really good)
I hope the attached pic and notes help you to understand where I am coming from. 
Thanks for all your efforts on this.

 10 December
 Hi Ray!

I wanted to say a big thank you for all the feedback! It’s very rare to get this sort of detailed and well thought out feedback from clients!
I’ll update you soon with the new composition and with everything a bit more refined as well!
Thank you again and I hope you are having a good trip in Thailand!



 25 December 
Hello Ray!

First of all, I hope you had a fantastic Christmas with your family, good food, and many gifts !

Second, I wanted to apologize for this very delayed update. I was going to update you some days before Christmas but unfortunately the file got corrupted so I had to start over from a previous backup. This update it’s basically just the 2 sketches combined. I didn’t have time to refine anything much further, but if you like how it is looking now it should be very smooth sailing from now on, since everything is established and just needs detailing and enhancing
I’m also doing a very last minute trip to Morocco tomorrow for a week so unfortunately I won’t be able to advance the image during that time.
Once I get back though, I will be dedicating my full time to finishing this image and it won’t take long. It should be ready by January 11th!

My sincere apologizes once again, and even though this is a fairly small update, I really hope you like it.

I wish you a fantastic new year and thank you for your patience.



Displaying TotM_almostfinal.jpg
26 December 
hi Jorge,

I hope you had a good christmas as well. The best gift I received was this sketch. Without a doubt.
I think this scene composition, colours / mood is awesome – thank you. I particularly like the way the light at the bottom of the waterfall gives the scene an other worldy look.
2 items – no biggies – but I thought I would raise them now so that you can change them early. 
  1. The woman has ice white hair, the boy has very pale grey hair.
  2. The woman wears lilac / purple pants and has a plain cloak (brown/grey whatever works with the pallette). I felt the detailing on her gives too much of an american indian feel. 
(They are not major issues at all, but I thought it would be easier to point them out now rather than later.)
Once again thanks for the work, sorry to hear about the backups issues and hope you have a great trip to morrocco.
Kind Regards
23 January 
Hi Ray!

Morroco was great, thank you! I hope you are having a good time as well!

Here is the final version of the cover! This file is in a higher res so that you can see more details and such. Don’t hesitate in telling me if you want anything changed!
I sincerely hope you like it, and if everything looks good to you let me know and I’ll send you the PSD/PNG file for print.
Thank you again for the opportunity, it’s been great working on this illustration, and I apologize once again for all the delays.



Displaying Tears_of_the_mother_final.jpg

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