Red Country Artwork: Design

August 6th, 2012

Maps and knives present and correct, now comes the time for virtuoso designer Laura Brett to put her dark arts to work and combine the two.  This is actually quite a drawn out process, with a lot of steady input from me and my editor, so I won’t show every step along the way, but just a few steps that demonstrate the path of development.  Work actually started as soon as the first artwork turned up, just getting an idea of whether and how best the cover might work when the elements were finalised.  First black and white effort at the concept:

Which demonstrated the whole thing was basically going to work – interesting, actually, as I’d somehow expected that the knives would be a lot smaller – of a scale with the sword and axe on Best Served Cold and The Heroes.  But there is, of course, absolutely no reason why they should be, and they were much more impactful at a bigger scale.  Amended map then textured, treated, cropped and squeezed to fit the relevant aspect for the hard cover wraparound.  Knives rearranged:

There was a process of considering where exactly to put the blades in order to leave the most pertinent parts of the map exposed, also what looked most dramatic, where and how the titles were best arranged.  With colour knives, therefore:

Getting there.  Time for Laura to add some further texture, detail, folding, staining, dirt and blood, as well as a few coins for extra interest.  We also resized slightly to lose some of the dark edges, and squeezed top to bottom to fit in a bit more detail, ending up with something a little like this:

Obviously including now rough copy, author stuff, other books, ISBN panel and so forth.  Getting pretty close to a finished cover, now…

Posted in artwork by Joe Abercrombie on August 6th, 2012.

19 comments so far

  • Shocked, and angry says:


  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    This is why I need a copy editor.

  • GarfleSnark says:

    This makes me moist.

  • Luke Kennedy says:

    Looks as sweet as ever. Arguably the coolest cover I’ve seen. Will it be better than The Heroes appearance though? Herm.

  • Kate says:

    I am so excited about this book! With each update you give us my anticipation grows!!! Thank you for keeping us posted.

  • Shocked, but not really angry says:

    Hmmm.. You’ve corrected your spelling AND responded in a witty, humble fashion.
    Preorder-cancellation-dilema averted.

    BTW, cover is looking awesome.

  • Mummi says:

    Cameo by the Bloody-Nine? 🙂

    Please… please please please

  • Mummi says:

    ….and I realised I ought to mention the artwork in my post…

    It’s really, really cool! Good job!

  • Smitty says:

    Oh my God, it’s so real now!

    Am I the only one who kind of winces in imagined pain when looking at the weaponry that often grace these book covers?

  • Frank Fitzpatrick says:

    To my dearest Joe (as you’re the only one I know),

    This is a message to help inflate your ego, so please respond accordingly.

    The best part of the entire cover art (and it all looks sex-wee-tastic) is the photo of you in the corner. My reason for thinking so? To me the photo reads, “Sup Bitches,” and I like that.

    P.S. Feel free to send me a free copy…

  • Jacob says:


    Any Native American designs which fit the inspiration from the knives? The one at the top sorta fits a few designs I’ve seen in the past. Did you have input as to their design (I assume they appear in the novel if that’s the case)?

  • Brad says:

    OK. That settles it. I’m going to order the UK edition of the book and have it flown to the US by budgerigar, or however it’s done these days.

  • StephenL says:

    Hmmm. One knife doesn’t have blood on it, now why would that be?

    Lovely cover.

  • Synless says:


    The Bloody Nine needs at least one butter knife. You didn’t think never having too many knives only applied to killing did you?

  • Jacob says:

    Actually Joe, another question if you wouldn’t mind…

    Why ARE there two covers for the States and the UK? Problems and issues with paying the artists per the American side? I’ve always wanted to know…

  • AntMac says:

    Can you do a Dr House voice, to go with the photo, Joe?.

    Looking at the last image, I had a bit of a revelation.

    You could set that ( and the covers of your other books too ) as a stand-alone thing. That would look awesome on a wall in a frame.

  • Thaddeus says:

    Looks good. Last time I bought the hardback version (I think it was released before the paperback). Must say I prefer the feel of the paperback, but the hardback’s coming with a map (I think). O, the agony of choice!

    Will the book(s) after this include an obscure inside reference (or two) to whisky? It’d be a shame not to make use of all the hard work you’ve done researching the subject.

  • James Webster says:

    Approve. :o) Very nice.

  • J.M. Martin says:

    The map’s still too clean.


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