The Art of Schaefer's Integrity


On this page we will look at the design process that brought the Schaefer's Integrity cover art into being, and you will see some of the sketches that were eliminated in favour of the cover that you see above. Concept artist Marvin Herbring will also give us an insight into his work on the image.

Whilst looking through some concept art websites I stumbled across the work of Marvin Herbring, who lives in Kassel, Germany. I fell in love with his images, which evoked complex detail with simply placed strokes. I wrote to Marvin and asked if he would be interested in illustrating the cover of my book, Schaefer's Integrity. He said yes straight away.


What followed were a flurry of emails scoping out what image would work best for the cover. Since quite a substantial portion of the book takes place in the Parts Yard, a space station in the Kuiper asteroid belt which measures 10km across, throughout writing the book I always wanted to know what the Parts Yard might actually look like, and I challenged Marvin to create it for me.

In the novel, the Parts Yard is described as a hollow trough with a huge gaping entrance, but as I sketched this on paper myself, I began to realise that it would look rather ridiculous. At this point I decided that it would be best to let Marvin proceed with his own vision of the space station, and see what came up.

On the left you will see the six initial sketches that Marvin produced, with a central red dividing line to get an idea of how the image might work as a wraparound book cover. Marvin asked me to choose which one I liked the best, or suggest other ideas if I liked none of them. As you look through the images you'll see the one that appealed to me the most.

Marvin is able to create apparently complex images with only a few simple strokes. I love this approach as it really can convey the size of the station well.

Extract from Schaefer's Integrity - "I was in sheer awe of the Parts Yard as we approached it.  Its size betrayed the very man-made-ness of it.  Could our species really build this sort of thing? And, as we drew nearer, it just seemed to get bigger and bigger.  I was the victim of an optical illusion, as it widened in my field of vision I wondered if we would ever actually reach it, but eventually the Josiah slid effortlessly into the huge gaping entrance, flanked by four vessels that provided us with an escort to our docking platform.  As I peered at the monitor I noticed that none of the three other freighters that also happened to be arriving at that time were being escorted, which either meant that we were special, or that we were in trouble.  There was something menacing to me about the way the ships flanked us.  It seemed to me they were moving in such a way that forced the Josiah’s own freedom of movement to be very restricted.  Carl struggled with the controls to avoid hitting them."

Later on, a brief scene takes place in The Bubble, a nightclub that overlooks the gaping entrance to the station. As you can see from the illustration above, we toyed with the idea of the cover image being from The Bubble. But for me, the image didn't work as well as the grander external Parts Yard sketches Marvin was producing.

Overall, Marvin's ideas of how the Parts Yard would look were working better as illustrations than I could imagine. I felt a real thrill when I saw the final, sixth image he provided, which for me was menacing and inspiring. You'll see the sketch on the right, and it's the one I chose for him to develop further.

In advance of the new cover being released on the book, I asked Marvin a few questions about his creative process. 

When you start work on a picture, what's the first thing that comes into your mind? How does the first idea form in your head? There´s always one first image that pop ups in my head right when i read the description about what to draw. It´s like when you read a book, you always picture the different places and characters in your mind. The tricky part is to dismiss this image and create completely new ways of approaching the illustration. For me, the best method to do that is to simply start sketching something and wait for the magic to happen - the drawing process itself is often inspirational enough to get the creative juices flowing. Just looking at a blank paper can be very inspirational as well very often.

For the Schaefer's Integrity cover, what order did the different elements find their way on to the image? After I filled the canvas with an dark blue, i painted the Parts Yard. Next came the raft, and then the space with it´s galaxys and stars. Then i worked out smaller things like the ships around the parts yard as well as the asteroids. At last i added final touches like the small lights, some haze and color-adjustments.

How many hours work went into contsructing the image? Taking the idea and sketching-phase into account, i think it took me something around 20h. The image doesn´t really look that complex since it doesn´t contain many complicated objects, but because it was going to be printed I had to work very elaborately and detailed. Also, to make sure to get the perspective right, I did an simple 3D-model of the foreground ship which also took me some time...

Which artists or art inspires you? Of course i am inspired by many different things like movies, books, music, videogames and obviously other art, but that´s quite easy. Also, by getting your inspiration from someone elses work you might find yourself simply copying that persons work - which you want to avoid at any cost.
Often, i find my inspiration in much more simple and abstract things, like the compostion of objects which lie randomly on my desk and turn them into a landscape; or maybe just an extreme perspective at something from a certain point. This might sound strange and difficult - which it absolutely is, but at the same time, it is also much more rewarding in the end. It´s all about finding something interesting, destructing and reconstructing it to something new. But to get back to the original question; artists i really look up to are Craig Mullins, Sparth, James Paick, Dylan Cole and Feng Zhu. There a lot more, especially some newcomers, but these are the 'the big five' for me.

Download the Schaefer's Integrity Wallpaper in 1200x800 (click image below to load full resolution)


Download the Schaefer's Integrity Wallpaper in 1600x1200 (click image below to load full resolution)




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