Friday, 14 May 2010

Cthulhu’s Dark Cults: Cover Art by Steve Gilberts

In my ongoing series of journal entries on how Cthulhu’s Dark Cults came to be, today I am focusing on the cover illustration, which was undertaken by the very talented Steven Gilberts.

Steven has been producing artwork for the small-press industry since 2003 starting with Space & Time Magazine. Since then he has been concocting odd cover and interior illustrations for a diversity of companies including Elder Signs Press, Apex Book Company, Cemetery Dance Publications, Chaosium Inc., and Shroud Publishing. Steve is going from strength-to-strength, and I’m sure it won’t be long before he’s illustrating covers for the bigger publishing houses.

I’m grateful that Steven did the cover illustration, as he captured perfectly the theme and the style of the book.

I’m also privileged in that Steven has illustrated one of my stories, “Solvent Hunger”. I’ve included the illustration here which appeared with my story in the Book of Dark Wisdom #5. The same illustration appeared on my chapbook Cthulhu Australis Part 1, where “Solvent Hunger” was reprinted.

Steven says the following about his illustration for the cover of Cthulhu’s Dark Cults:

“The basic concept for the cover was outlined to me by Dustin Wright [editor at Chaosium]. A group of figures dancing around a statue of Cthulhu in a swamp or woodland setting.

“I opted for the figures to be (tastefully) unclad and possibly attractive. After all, just because you worship a snoozing undead cephalopod creature dreaming deep beneath the Pacific Ocean doesn't necessarily mean you are homely.

“The statue of Cthulhu needed to be lit from underneath to indicate the fire that the cultists are dancing in front of. To be on the safe side I opted for a photo reference to be sure that I would get the shadows and highlights positioned correctly. It was Play-Doh to the rescue as the sculpting medium for the model to be photographed. Following in this vein I suppose I'll need to render an illustration in crayon one of these days.

"On a related note to shooting reference shots of the stature, the dancing figures were based on images from a reference source of models for artists to use. So no, I did not have a group of nudists cavorting around my studio, at least not for this particular assignment.

"I went with bright colours and a starlit night for the background to create a scene of (hopefully) ethereal beauty. As with the figures I reasoned that, though the subject matter is dark, the overall setting could be lovely. Perhaps with good looks and scenic settings the cultists would be apt to collect more members and victims alike.”

Photo of Steven Gilberts © 2009 Michael Morris.

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