Marc Simonetti Paints Cover For The Elfstones of Shannara


Cover detail from The Elfstones of Shannara Limited Edition by Terry Brooks.

Artists play an important role in SF&F.

The incomparable Marc Simonetti is one of those artists. Ever since he painted that image of the Iron Throne George R. R. Martin fans love, I knew I wanted to work with him.

When the chance arose to produce beautiful editions of the first three Shannara novels, Simonetti was the first choice, an artist who could capture the scale and energy of epic fantasy. Terry Brooks agreed it was a great fit. And when I sent Simonetti an email asking if he’d be interested, I didn’t have long to wait. He wrote me back immediately with an enthusiasm that matched my own. “I get to re-read the books now! Will be in touch in a week after reading,” he wrote.

Now, a year later, we are about to wrap up the art for The Elfstones of Shannara, the second book in the series. Brooks wanted a scene on the cover that had not been depicted before in Shannara art. We did the same with The Sword of Shannara when Simonetti painted the Hall of Kings. For Elfstones, he was asked to paint Stee Jans, his Free Corps, and the seventh and final gate of the Elfitch before the demons break through to destroy the Elves of Arborlon.

Brooks aided Simonetti in setting the scene just right. Here are some of the major steps the artist took to create the cover for The Elfstones of Shannara Limited Edition. He supplied the captions below.

I hope you enjoy this insight into his work!


Step 1: Just a fast composition sketch.


Step 2: Setting the lights and the composition more precisely


Step 3: Bringing a lot of colors to work with.


Step 4: Starting to block things and make a strong choice for the light and shadows area. Trying to be sure that the troop will be the center of interest.


Step 5: Bringing a sky back to help balance colors.


Step 6: Starting detailing the troops first and the army of demons…


Step 7: A big step, taking a lot of time just for detailing everything… Especially the army of demons that had to be very varied…


Step 8: Finished!