Burned and spattered papers, such as the ones on the First Law covers, are pretty much universal, but a sword has to hit the right note, especially since it’s meant to be the one the main character uses in the book. So it has to be the right era, and have the right feel. Since the feel for the book is kind of renaissance Italy-ish, more baroque than medieval, the brief we gave to Didier Graffet, a French artist who specialises in weaponry, was something roughly along these lines (and no doubt those of you interested by historical weaponry, which is, let’s face it, pretty much all of you, will now spend some time exploring that site), but possibly with a bit more heft to the blade. So it needed to look beautiful, but functional, without any fantastical flourishes. Steely, not gilded. It needed to look dangerous.
This was the first sketch we got back:
Which was already looking pretty good. We messed about with it a bit, shortened bits, lengthened bits, talked ricasso, knuckle-bow, quillons, and fore-ring, cause, you know, I talk fluent sword, and ended up with something actually pretty close to the original, though somewhat weightier and shorter in the blade, a bit less graceful and a bit more brutal:
Happy with that, it went back to be coloured, and damned if it didn’t turn up but a few hours later looking bloody brilliant:
Click on it. You know you want to. CLICK ON IT. Possibly you can’t entirely see it on this version, but the detail is amazing. It has that quality of accentuated reality that great graphic novel art has. Real, only more so. So my thanks to Didier Graffet. If you ever need a sword painted, I might just know a guy…