Recently I got a proposal to make a cover for a book that SFera, croatian SF & fantasy society, publishes yearly. It was the kind of job I was really happy to do.
After hearing the theme (and probable title of the book) I figured it won't be that easy to think of a proper concept... 13th circle of abyss.
Here's how I did it.
For the first several days I mostly did just thinking and drawing tiny thumbnails in my sketchbook.
I had a general idea: some kind of vertical tunnel, a protagonist who is in great peril, and some mysterious creatures lurking about.
After some more thinking and sketching, I ended up with a person falling down through disappearing stairs.
The sketch was approved, so I met with my friend Maja for a photo shoot. After digging through her closet, we managed to find something that won't stand out too much. I thought there's no need for historical or futuristic styling.
I kept some 15 photos that were usable, but in the end only 2 or 3 were really good.
For a while I thought I would paint the stairs, but it just didn't work. I didn't have any decent photos of my own, so I bought a really good one from iStockphoto.
When I was ready to begin, I set up the file to the specified size, drew the guidelines to help me place key elements correctly, and started working on the actual manipulation.