I am absolutely thrilled with how the Swapship Troopers cover came out. It’s such an improvement over my previous covers. I’m still drawing in Inkscape, but I’ve learned some new digital techniques like blurs and color gradients that give a much more realistic texture.
For example, look at her tits. I mean, really, look at them! First I put down a radial gradient with a light skin tone in the center fading to a darker skin tone on the edges. Then I added a spot of almost pure white near the lightest point as a specular highlight. I blurred the shit out of that white spot until it blended almost seamlessly into the skin tones. That really worked to define the round shape and give the drawing depth. Her tits really pop.
The same is true for putting down a dark shape and blurring that to make indistinct shadows. And then you can take a shadow and a highlight right next to each other to make a wrinkle, like those in her pants.
Speaking of her pants, the camouflage design wasn’t drawn onto the pants. Instead I took a big square with the futuristic hex camo and made it into an Inkscape pattern. Then that pattern could be used to fill in any closed shape. I tried out quite a few camouflage patterns before settling on this one.
Her hair was a challenge, but it was important for me to get it right. I’ve come across many stories where a man turns into a woman and suddenly has long, beautiful hair. That just doesn’t seem right to me. Long hair isn’t inherently part of being a woman. I mean, men don’t have short hair because they’re men — they have short hair because they get it cut off. I decided for my gender swap story, the female would have the same hairdo as the male. Only features dictated by biology would change.
This also gave me the chance to make the cover image extra distinctive by having a hot girl with a buzz cut — how often do you see that, right? I love having a cover image that stands out a little bit.
It was difficult, though, to get the right level of transparency in the hair. Too much transparency and she looked like she had mange. Too little transparency and she looked like she was wearing a stocking cap. And I certainly wasn’t interested in sitting down and drawing every #$&%@ strand of hair. I finally settled on using a solid mousy brown color with triangle shapes cut out. Add a touch of blur and – viola! – buzz cut.
The title was actually really easy. Most of the text (“wapship roopers”) was just regular italic text. The big S and T were hand drawn, but I used a movie poster as a guide. The text is filled in with a gradient from light to darker blue. The outline of the text has a more extreme gradient to make it look extra shiny.
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