Dead Letter Cover is Hot Property

I’ve been getting so many compliments about the cover art on Dead Letter!

You can see why. It is so eye catching and dynamic. The colours have really come alive and the shadows and smoke add the perfect sense of mystery to match the story inside.

I love it and I’m so glad that my readers love it too.

This post is a massive shout out to the cover artist, award-winning illustrator, Amit Dutta aka Monkey Bread.

Thanks a bunch, Amit!

You ROCK the set!!!

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Amit captured a scene in the novel with more magic than I ever hoped would be possible. The cover shows Novice Kettna, casting a modified cantrip called Hot Hand.

She grasped the lock on the door with her super heated hand and focussed all her remaining mana into the spell. The lock went red-hot then yellow and the timber around it smoked and cindered. Kettna’s legs gave way, her body weak from the intense magical strain, but she would not let go of the lock.

I just love the detail of the magical tattoos brimming with power! Especially the visual description of some symbols being triggered and others not. Fantastic stuff!

Check out more of Amit’s portfolio on Tumblr and his Deviant Art page.
Find him on Facebook.
Get in contact and commission him for your next project.

Want a free copy of Dead Letter?

Click here for more details.

Big Al’s Books and Pals

Rip-Roaring Adventure
Full of Intrigue and Espionage
Five Stars!
Elrin is a young man, not yet twenty, trying to find his way in the world without his father. He’s currently serving as a messenger between a priest he trusts – Herder Kleith – and the Guild Master. Nosing around the Guild Master’s study, waiting to deliver a missive, Elrin picks up a mysterious dagger to study. When he overhears secrets between the Guild Master and an unknown source his life is suddenly in jeopardy. Narrowly escaping the Guild Guards, Elrin flees to Kleith who dresses Elrin in priests robes and sends him across land and then to the Hoard Islands to seek the Dragon Choir for help. Kleith is unable to see the dagger in Elrin’s possession, but knows it well. It belonged to Elrin’s father, Arbajkha, who has been missing for over half of Elrin’s life.
Thus begins this rip-roaring adventure full of intrigue and espionage between political and religious leaders who wish to hold power over all the surrounding nations and the sea. Elrin inadvertently ends up with an eclectic band of diverse rebels who wish to free the Jandan slaves and restore justice to all. As with every epic fantasy there are many characters, but I found each one fully rounded and unique. I had no trouble liking or identifying with all of the heroes. The bad guys were the most vile ever to live. There are epic battles with swords, magic, and arrows on land and cannons with black powder at sea as pirates join in for their share of the spoils while still aiding the rebellion.
There are prophecies to decipher, ogres, evil redeemers, mage priests, drakkin type warriors, a beautiful assassin, a confused naval captain with a decent heart, hobbit type humans, dwarfs, a young elemental acolyte they name Amber, and dragons to boot! This intelligently told story is bound to sweep you up as the plot twists and turns with each new revelation. If you love intricate high fantasy epic adventures, Dragon Choir is worth checking out. A small warning though, this book does end in a cliff-hanger that will have you waiting on the edge of your seat for the next book.
Rating: ***** Five stars
Check out Big Al’s Books and Pals website here.

Dragon Choir Hit #1 in Amazon Charts!

AMAZON_BESTSELLERA massive thank you to all my supporters in the UK and Canada who helped Dragon Choir reach dizzying heights and made me an Amazon Bestseller!

  • #1 for Epic Fantasy
  • #1 for Sword and Sorcery
  • #1 for Contemporary Fantasy

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With your support I also broke the top ten overall!

  • #4 overall in the UK and Canada

With all of your help Dragon Choir even cracked the top #100 in the USA, the toughest market of all!

I am so very thankful to have such a great response to my promotions for Dragon Choir. Still buzzing with the excitement of the past week riding the charts so high.

Thanks Amazon and thanks to my fabulous fans of fantasy!

Amit Dutta

Amit is an award-winning concept artist with a knack for environmental design. Looking at the technical expertise displayed in his works, you would never guess that he is self-taught. While working a day job in IT as a senior technical analyst, Amit burned the midnight oil painting nights and weekends, before he made the inspirational leap all artists dream of … working full-time for his art.
He has carved a career for himself through hard work, passion and a dedication to improving his skills.
Not only is he busy working on freelance work, he has dedicated his time to help other visual artists enhance their skills. Improve your craft with content rich art lessons via his Youtube channel. Amit’s contributions to budding and emerging artists are a fine example of how creatives can work better together. I’m a strong believer that when artists share their talents and collaborate, we build a stronger, more fertile art community.
Check out my favourites from his portfolio.
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Stealin by Amit Dutta
the_last_outpost_by_m0nkeybread-d6mipeh
The Last Outpost by Amit Dutta
the_city_of_dimah_by_bigbwana-d4nc5nb
The City of Dimah by Amit Dutta
pole_station_alphaomegaomicronzeetheta_5_ay0_ay0_by_bigbwana-d4qaus3
Pole Station AlphaOmegaOmicronZeeTheta by Amit Dutta
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Vurt by Amit Dutta
the_final_voyage_by_m0nkeybread-d8qdxeg
The Final Voyage by Amit Dutta
heathen_brotherhood_colony_outpost_by_m0nkeybread-d6j7dxn
HEATHEN – Brotherhood Colony Outpost by Amit Dutta
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Four Seconds to Green by Amit Dutta
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Amit’s talent has been recognised by the world famous studio, Weta Workshop. His work was was handpicked and published in Paul Tobin’s Science Fiction and Fantasy showcase White Cloud Worlds Volume 3. He features alongside other New Zealand greats famous for their work on The Lord of the Rings, Mad Max: Fury Road, King Kong, Chappie, Chronicles of Narnia, Avatar and District 9.
If you are in New Zealand you can check out his work being shown in the Imaginary Worlds exhibition which is open until 8th Feb 2016.
Check out more of Amit’s Portfolio on Tumblr and his Deviant Art page.
Find him on Facebook.
Get in contact and commission him for your next project.

Fan Art First

Dragon Choir has it’s first work of fan art and I am blown away with excitement!

Zix was one of the first artists to feature on my site with her beautifully detailed vector art.

Check out what Zix has created.

Elrin and Minni by Zix
Elrin and Minni by ZixPainter

Fans of Dragon Choir will see how beautifully the relationship between these two characters has been captured. Both looking up at the stars like they see the future, yet from different perspectives. For me, it captures the moment they find common ground.

Elrin and Minni (WIP) by Zix
Elrin and Minni (WIP) by ZixPainter

I was so touched by this image, I asked Zix if she would let me in on how it was created.

“The idea of them lying under a cloudy night sky came to me accidently, while I tried to fall asleep (it’s a normal thing when inspiration comes to you just before you’re going to enter dreamland … at least in my life).
Since I’m not a professional artist, there were new things for me to work on: first of all, of course, the perspective. I had to stop drawing from time to time to study the anatomic form of my left hand for hints. Secondly, it was interesting to think of their outfit, with which I spent quite a lot of time. Colouring is always the most interesting step for me, so I put a lot of effort into it … as always 🙂 And the third new thing was painting the grass with this perspective, I tried my best there…”

Zix, you have done me a very special thing by creating this picture.

Thank you so much!

You can check out more of Zix’s works on her Deviant Art page.
A left field connection here… She has done a fantastic Robert Downey Jr. too. If you are a fan like me, you’ll love it!

Andrey Vasilchenko

Andrey is one of the finest hands in fantasy illustration I’ve come across. He illustrates fantasy themes both with original flare and old world technique. There is something about Andrey’s style that reminds me of his great countryman Ilya Yefimovich Repin. (Even Repin dipped his brushes in magic when he did—the world famous—Sadko in the Underwater Kingdom). That said, in my opinion, Andrey gives Repin a run for his money with fantasy art. Check out my favourites from Andrey’s collection.

Reward by Andrey Vasilchenko
Reward by Andrey Vasilchenko
Slave by Andrey Vasilchenko
Slave by Andrey Vasilchenko
The Hunt by Andrey Vasilchenko
The Hunt by Andrey Vasilchenko
Waterfall by Andrey Vasilchenko
Waterfall by Andrey Vasilchenko
Castle by Andrey Vasilchenko
Castle by Andrey Vasilchenko
Magician by Andrey Vasilchenko
Magician by Andrey Vasilchenko
Forest Demoness 2 by Andrey Vasilchenko
Forest Demoness 2 by Andrey Vasilchenko

Andrey is a freelance illustrator and has been picked up by Alawar Entertainment Inc, who are responsible for the tremendously addictive puzzlers that have hit it big as apps, including projects such as Treasures of Montezuma 4, Treasures of Montezuma – Arena and Farm Frenzy 4.

Treasures of Montezuma Arena - background by Andrey Vasilchenko
Treasures of Montezuma Arena – background by Andrey Vasilchenko
Check out more of Andrey’s awesome art at his Deviant Art page and his ArtStation page.
Find him on Facebook.
Commission him to do your next project via his website.

Recycle Art

Recycle Art began ten years ago and first began selling their magnificent steel sculptures to the public four years later. Each work of art is made out of reclaimed car and motorbike parts sourced from local junk yards. Designers, welders and helpers make up a fifteen person team that tackle any sized project.

The Recycle Art Gallery The Recycle Art Gallery

As well as forging their own artful designs, Recycle Art can create a custom sculpture just for you. They are so good at what they do, all you need to supply is a picture or a model.

Skinny Dragon - 50cm by Recycle Art
Skinny Dragon – 50cm by Recycle Art

Good things come in small packages. This little delight reminds me of Prisella, from Dragon Choir.

Chinese General by Recycle Art (custom order from model)
Chinese General by Recycle Art (custom order from model)

This guy is the legendary general, Guan Yu, (best call him Guan Gong in case his spirit gets offended) made famous and then deified for his role in the Three Kingdoms period. I love Chinese history and I’m a sucker for Chinese folklore. The stories about him are a beautiful artful confusion (not confucian) of both.

Warrior - 2.2m by Recycle Art
Warrior – 2.2m by Recycle Art

Medieval walking dead warriors are much more frightening than the modern day urbanite variety. Look at the imagination that has gone into the kit on this guy.

Dragon Coffee Shop - 15m by Recycle Art
Dragon Coffee Shop – 15m by Recycle Art

I love a coffee as much as any stereotypical writer out there, but I must say that I would trip over myself to get into a coffee shop that looked as monumentally awesome as this. Who’s in with me?

Glad - 5m by Recycle Art
Glad – 5m by Recycle Art

Never fear. If the big dragon won’t let you near her hoard of coffee beans, just call in the 5m Gladiator to distract her.

Dragon 2012 - 2m by Recycle Art
Dragon 2012 – 2m by Recycle Art

The attention to detail on these dragons is phenomenal. The postures and anatomic proportions really demonstrate the skill of the artists.

Dragon 2014 - 2.5m by Recycle Art
Dragon 2014 – 2.5m by Recycle Art

While I have focused on my favourite fantasy creations from Recycle Art’s portfolio, be aware that Recycle Art do far more sculptures in every different style imaginable. They have cars, motorbikes, animals, dinosaurs, insects, fairies and furniture…anything. If you can think it, these guys can sculpt it. They are a seriously talented and dedicated team of artisans.

Browse their online portfolio at www.recycleart.ch
Like them on Facebook.
If you are in Switzerland or passing through, drop in:

Im Spilhof 3

5626 Hermetschwil bei Bremgarten AG

Switzerland

Get in contact now and commission a sculpture for yourself or your corporate headquarters for guaranteed attention.
info@recycleart.ch
+41 56 633 30 66
+41 79 677 89 90

Sebastien Hue

Sebastien is dedicated to the CG art scene. Not only does he produce his own fantastic works and deliver outstanding commissions for his clients, Sebastien gives back to the CG art community via tutorials and workshops in various publications including Advanced Creation Photoshop3D Art DirectAdvanced Photoshop, and more.

He has also featured in two fantastic books alongside the best in the business:

Digital Mayhem 3D Landscape Techniques which shows the secrets to creating stunning landscapes and Digital Mayhem 3D Machine Techniques which is a detailed and innovative guide to professional machine images. These books are a must for any aspiring CG artist and are filled with hundreds of masterpieces from the top talent in CG art. Both are Compiled by Duncan Evans, launch Editor of 3D Artist Magazine.

With all the above you’d be quite proud, but Sebastien’s talent has also led him to work with big names in publishing across the globe such as Harper Collins (USA), Imagine Publishing (UK), Oracom (France) and Basteï Lubbe (Germany). The games industry picked up on his skills and he has worked with majors like Iceberg Interactive with a long catalogue of sci-fi strategies and Ukando, indie creators of Alien Tribe 2. Because I’m a big believer in indie art I’m sending a super digital high five to the folks at Ukando, Keep up the great work! Alien Tribe is one of my favourite ipad games. Who knew that I’d be featuring the artist behind Alien Tribe’s awesome artwork. It’s a beautiful world.

Attraction by Sebastien Hue Attraction by Sebastien Hue

I just love the action in this scene. I can imagine it just like a movie with the ships screaming through the tumbling asteroids and the slow dance of the planets in the background.

The Emperor's Spire by Sebastien Hue for the game Horizon. The Emperor’s Spire by Sebastien Hue for the game Horizon.

Here is a piece that game developer L30 commissioned for their game Horizon (get it on Steam to satisfy your appetite for space conquest).

From Another Age - Concept 5 - Extractors by Sebastien Hue From Another Age – Concept 5 – Extractors by Sebastien Hue

I’ve paraphrased Sebastien’s explanation: The Mecha Nation use advanced technologies to pump and extract water. They send huge extractor spaceships to explore and drain the liquid like gigantic squid-shaped parasites. They bring the cargo back to the main station and thus fuel a planet of their own. Basically it’s a planet powered by nuclear reactors and protected by a heavy plasma shield.

Sweet Sci-fi to nourish your soul!

Dragon's Anger by Sebastien Hue Dragon’s Anger by Sebastien Hue

If you think Sci-fi is all Sebastien can do…think again and take in this dragon. Fine work indeed. That bad boy is ready for the hunt.

The Lost Ship by Sebastien Hue The Lost Ship by Sebastien Hue

The Lost Ship is a work that makes me think of the tall ships from my Dragon Choir series. The jagged mountains and the sunset could have been painted straight from the pages. This piece shocked me when I found it because I wrote a scene just like this for a yet to be released novel in my book series. For me, this is the magic of art, where an artist creates perfect resonance with a thought or feeling of another person. I am really touched by this and so grateful to have discovered such a talent. I’m sure you feel the same.

Sebastien has so many more epic works in his portfolio. Make sure you check out the links below for more.
Join him in the Deviant Art community.
Follow Sebastien of Facebook.
If you want your project to have galactic impact check out Sebastien’s website and commission some spectacular digital art. www.shue-digital.com

Felipe Escobar

Felipe is an artist and a professional industrial designer who freelances for the games and entertainment industry. His imaginative artworks are built with inspiration from music and nature. I really enjoyed going through his portfolio, but found it hard limiting the number of images for this post. He has so many fantastic pieces. Below are my favourites and I think they really highlight his versatility and creativity. Felipe is such a gentleman, he also offered to provide a commentary for them. Enjoy his guided tour!

Mystery House by Felipe Escobar
Mystery House by Felipe Escobar
Now, this is an old one, but I still like it, not because of the quality of image but for the colour. I tried to go for something more dynamic with colour and shades. I kinda see Bob Ross videos now and I can remember I had the same feeling he said to have painting his stuff. Like…it didn’t matter what it was, just enjoy the painting. I got inspiration by the art of Thomas Scholes, an amazing artist and great influence.
Sea Monster by Felipe Escobar
Sea Monster by Felipe Escobar
This piece was part of a series of challenges in Facebook for a illustrators group. I’d like to think this was my first storytelling illustration. Because it was the first time I kinda succeeded in creating a good action scene that had some story to it. It was really fun to work on.
Royal Gryphon by Felipe Escobar
Royal Gryphon by Felipe Escobar
This was a test I did for myself. I wanted to expand and renew my catalog of creatures in my portfolio. I created each new creatures in two days. The first day was for sketching and planning and the second was for finishing. Some of them only took me a single day. Like the Battered Wife Spider. The gryphon came up as a design of a classical creature that we all know but in a different manner. It’s cool to create new creatures and stuff nobody as seen, but I guess what matters most in the industry is to make people immediately relate to a subject they know and give it a little twist so it has this fresh look.
Bottles by Felipe Escobar
Bottles by Felipe Escobar

I love doing props. I’m an industrial designer by education and I spent a little bit more than 5 years studying that career. Now it’s in my blood. I can’t avoid getting way too committed to create objects and new design ideas on weapons and armor. It’s funny because all I really wanted was to work as a concept artist for these link of little things, but I mainly get asked for illustration commissions. I’m happy with that though. I’ve learned to love both disciplines the same.

Weapon designs for Paizo by Felipe Escobar
Weapon designs for Paizo by Felipe Escobar
Snowmen by Felipe Escobar
Snowmen by Felipe Escobar
This is a speedpainting that I created during a 365 challenge on DeviantArt, the topic that day was snowmen…so they came up like that. I did that challenge some time ago when I was just out of Uni. It helped to get in shape in terms of a painting habit, because the challenge consisted on creating anything everyday for a year. I tried to do it again and I found out early that I already had that constant need of painting every day. By that time it was getting a little bit tiresome to work on a different piece everyday. What I actually needed was to spend more time in my images, not less. So I quit doing it and started spending more time in my stuff.
Old Sith by Felipe Escobar
Old Sith by Felipe Escobar
This is fanart of Star Wars. It didn’t start like that though. I just wanted to create a good portrait with wrinkles and lot of texture. I guess one thing led to another. What really inspired this was a dark feeling that I usually get out of the music genre of Black Metal.
A Lonesome Queen by Felipe Escobar
A Lonesome Queen by Felipe Escobar
This is one of my newest pieces. I started it right after I resigned my job with a company I was working for. I realized that I’m better at what I love. I think that inspiration and emotion with certain topics is what really move artists to create. To get that feeling of being in your element with a certain topic you like. For me it’s dark scenery and mystery. I like to keep things in under a veil and make the viewer go further with their own imagination. I got to say that this one piece is my starting point into my true career as an illustrator.

Thanks for the tour of your works, Felipe!

Get over to Felipe’s website and check out his portfolio. www.fesbra.carbonmade.com
You can also find him here at Artstation.
While you are at it like his facebook page too and keep up to date with his work.

Christophe Vacher

Christophe has the credit of managing concept art and art direction for Disney, Dreamworks, Universal Studios and many other animation studios. He’s worked on major films including The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dinosaur, Hercules, Tarzan, Shark Tale and Treasure Planet (one of my favourite Disney sci-fi animations).

Treasure Planet by Disney
Treasure Planet by Disney

Remember the animated beginnings of Disney’s Enchanted starring Amy Adams? Christophe was Art Director on the animation and produced memorable moments like this. Check out the video here

Colour script & art direction for Enchanted by Christophe Vacher
Colour script & art direction for Enchanted by Christophe Vacher

Christophe received an Annie Awards nomination (equivalent of an Academy Award for Animation) for his work on Tim Burton’s CG feature film 9. 9 has to be one of the best original animation features ever made and is one of my all time favourite dystopian movies. Check out the trailer and you’ll see why.

He worked as a visual development artist for Despicable Me before moving to Hasbro studios where he has won two Emmy Awards for Transformers Primethe latest CG animated TV show from one of the most famous sci-fi franchises on the planet.

Colour and lighting design for a Visual Effects sequence in episode 19 by Christophe Vacher
Colour and lighting design for a Visual Effects sequence in episode 19 by Christophe Vacher

All of these major achievements are a testament to Christophe’s professionalism and skill with his art. He is a legend in my book and I feel honoured to feature his work. While his career working for the biggest names in animation is mind blowing, his personal works of art are sublime. Below are my favourites.

The Taming of Naas by Christophe Vacher
The Taming of Naas by Christophe Vacher
The Gate by Christophe Vacher
The Gate by Christophe Vacher
The Canyon by Christophe Vacher
The Canyon by Christophe Vacher
Christophe painting Neo-Samarkand
Christophe painting Neo-Samarkand
The Old Buzzard by Christophe Vacher
The Old Buzzard by Christophe Vacher
Having laid your eyes on the images above you will be hungry for more.
Light up your coffee table with a copy of Christophe’s book of art here.
Check out his website at www.vacher.com
There are more samples of his fantastic work on his Deviant Art page too.