Manuscripts Burn


"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Creating the HUNTER OF THE DEAD Cover (Guest Post by Zach McCain, Professional Artist)

Hey kids!  Today you're in for a treat.  Some of you have already witnessed over on the group blog the trials and travails of letting someone like me describe a cover I want.  These poor illustrators deserve sainthood for dealing with me.  Take a look, for instance, at the "concept art" I sent to my longsuffering publishers Sinister Grin for my upcoming thing about vampires, HUNTER OF THE DEAD:

This time, though, rather than merely guess at how the poor fellow behind the easel took my clip art of Sauron (yes, I know it's actually Morgoth, thanks) and turned it into an actual book cover, you good people get to hear it from the horse's mouth!  So without any further ado, let's introduce today's guest and then get straight to the good stuff.

About Zach McCain:

Zach McCain is an internationally published artist who is primarily known for his illustration and cover artwork in the horror and science fiction genres. He has worked on hundreds of books for numerous publishers. His work ranges from book and magazine illustration to graphic design, album art, DVD and poster work for films, and RPG games. Mediums often used are oils as well as pencil, ink, and digital. 

As a fan of Stephen King Zach started out doing graphics and web work for "The Dark Tower Compendium," a Stephen King fan website. He continued to do Stephen King fan artwork in his spare time and eventually got work with small horror publishers and "Cemetery Dance Magazine." A couple of pieces of his fan artwork were featured in KNOWING DARKNESS: THE ART OF STEPHEN KING published by Centipede Press. He continues to do artwork for Stephen King projects including books and film as well as private commissions for fans. 

He is also the graphic designer for dark fiction publisher DarkFuse and he is currently working on his own comic book series in his spare time. 

If you are a publisher, or an author looking to self publish your book, and are in need of cover art and/or design work feel free to contact Zach at:

You can find out more about Zach at his website and on Twitter.

Guest Post:

When it comes to cover art I have various ways of getting the job done depending on what the publisher or author wants and what the cover idea is. Digital photo manipulation, oil paintings, colored pencil on acrylic, and pencil drawings colored in Photoshop are all techniques I use. In the case of HUNTER OF THE DEAD I went the pencil drawing/Photoshop route. 

Here's how it was done:

Step 1

After the sketch is approved I start out by doing a pencil drawing on a comic book art board.

Step 2

When the pencil drawing is completed I scan it in sections and put it back together in Photoshop.

Step 3

Next I begin a slow and tedious process of tracing around every element with the lasso tool in Photoshop and filling it with a color. Everything is separated on it's own layer. This step takes the most time out of the entire process.

Step 4

As soon as I have everything traced and separated I begin coloring each part of the illustration one by one.

Step 5

Once every part of the image is filled in with color I will then go in and add details. In this case I added highlights on the armor and horse using the lasso tool and blood using the paintbrush tool. I will add textures if needed and adjust brightness and contrast as well as the overall color. This final step is the second longest in the entire process.

Step 6

Once everything looks good I will add the text.

And that's how I did HUNTER OF THE DEAD.


Someone has begun targeting vampires.

Vampire leaders of the thirteen Houses attribute the string of recent losses to over-zealous vampire hunters.  Only Cicatrice, the most ancient and powerful vampire in the world, suspects that the semi-legendary Hunter of the Dead may be the real culprit. 

Carter Price ,a vampire hunter who despises the way his profession is becoming centralized and corporatized, begins to suspect the Hunter of the Dead is back, too - and no longer distinguishing between vampires and mortals.  Against his better judgment, Price agrees to work with Cicatrice.

The uneasy allies attempt to uncover the truth about the Hunter, while a vampire civil war brews in the background.  But perhaps most difficult of all, they must contend with their new apprentices, who seem to be falling in love with each other against every rule of man and monster...

HUNTER OF THE DEAD will be released in paperback and Kindle on August 15, 2016.  It is available now for pre-order at Amazon.

About Stephen Kozeniewski:

Stephen Kozeniewski (pronounced "causin' ooze key") lives in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. During his time as a Field Artillery officer, he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star. He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds more impressive than saying his bachelor's degree is in German.

You can follow Stephen on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Goodreads, his blog, or even join his mailing list.


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