My first ever book, and my first ever book cover. Published as a print-on-demand book by Cosmos Books in the USA in 2002.
The book took many years to compile, and I created the finished interior as a PDF, laying it all out in MS Word. Luckily the interior layout was fairly simple with no illustrations (except Bill Sanderson’s wonderful portrait of Harry Harrison). If you are ever thinking of laying out a book in Word, my advice would be – don’t! But if you do, don’t swap the files between different computers running different versions of Windows and different versions of Word – or you too may end up screwing up the page numbering of your contents page…
The cover image was drawn as a black silhouette that I then scanned and manipulated – not in Photoshop, but in good old PaintShop Pro version 7, a piece of software I used as my standard tool for quick and easy image editing, right up until the introduction of Windows 10, when it wouldn’t work properly anymore.
The ‘stainless steel’ effect was achieved using the tools available in PaintShop Pro – there were a number of pieces in magazines and online about achieving metallic effects, and I just played around with settings until I stumbled on something that I was happy with.
The lettering I managed to create after reading in computer magazines about manipulating layers. I could lie and say the effect I achieved was exactly what I was aiming for – but really it was a happy accident. I was pleased that it turned out as well as it did – some of my earlier attempts hadn’t turned out well at all, as the other example here demonstrates.
If you are wondering what the Rat is pointing at, well… he was supposed to be holding a ray gun. But the one I drew for him was rubbish. And adding the metal effect to it did nothing to improve it, so I just deleted it completely.
I found out much later that Harry Harrison hated this image – he thought the red eye made the Rat look too evil, and his Stainless Steel Rat character is a good guy with a sense of humour. I reused the head outline a couple of times later on the Harry Harrison website, but changed the eye to blue.
I was contacted by a gang of Russian bikers fairly recently – they wanted to use my Rat head image in the ‘colors’ on their jackets. Of course I said yes.