Monday, September 20, 2010

Shades of Gray

I wrote my last post on glowing things before Carol Brendler found this awesome survey by Orbit Books’ on fantasy novel cover-art. I was surprised to find that glowy magic is on the down-trend, considering how many glowing objects I’ve noticed in my recent searches. I’ve also noticed how color plays an important role in fantasy cover art, with glowing things and other fantasy subject matters.

I thought it would be a good discussion, until I started thinking about colors... It was hard to narrow the topic until I came upon this:

The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner, Kim Stanley Robinson (Centipede Press, May 2010)

Wow--almost no color at all, but wonderfully spooky. This cover jumped out at me because the artist did not use color for effect. Just shades of gray. Thus, my search for gray covers began. Here are some good examples of what you can do without color:

The Abandoned by Edward Linden (iUniverse, Incorporated, February 2010)

Eerie, right? More gray, creepy covers:

(Grove/Atlantic, Inc., September 2010) (Norilana Books, September 2010)

Two examples where the text stands out because of the lack of color in the design:

(Grand Central Publishing, June 2010) (Scholastic, Inc, April 2009)

This last book hasn’t come out yet. I wonder if it will start a new trend in fantasy cover art—the fabulous use of both color and gray:

(Viking Juvenile, October 14, 2010)


  1. The Crossing Over cover is really evocative, but the standout here has to be that smoke/skull image. Wow. The thing I like about black and white is that it brings form into focus. Shape and line become prominent. Neat post, Patti.

  2. Ooh, those are such cool covers! Thanks for lining them up so we could see them all at once, Patti! Though I like the first one (the skull) my favorite is the last - the tree, going gray - love to see how the color leaches out, which must have something to do metaphorically (or literally) with the plot. Neat.