I AM AI Cover Art Feature

I’ve been meaning to put this together for a while now, but I’ve been procrastinating, and of course, I’m currently putting this together because I’m procrastinating on something else—my novel deadline in three days. BUT ANYWHO, below is how the cover of I AM AI came to be through the collaboration between my mother Chun Yan Zhang—the artist who painted the watercolour portrait that served as the foundation of the cover; me, making the tech adjustments and brush ups with the Paint app; and Alan Lastufka from Shortwave Publishing who did the final design and colour adjustments!

#1. When I first queried Alan with the novelette, he’d had an idea for a potential cover after reading the manuscript and sent the following mock-up (picture on the left). But I later asked if it might be possible to do a collaboration with my mother since she’s an artist, and Alan had agreed! The picture on the right is an initial sketch my mom came up with after I sent her reference photos of cyberpunk covers and art. She usually does realistic portraits and landscape paintings.

#2. After a few back and forths, we ended up scrapping the first draft and going with the second. The painting on the left was the initial version which was altered to look darker, grittier, to match the tone of the novelette more as well as the cyberpunk genre (on the right). But after deliberation, we thought that perhaps the one on the right looked a bit too stoic.

#3. I took both paintings and added the initial cybernetic lines using the Paint app. The initial thought was to have it resemble the neon signs of restaurants we might find in Chinatown at night.

#4. We decided that neon lines would look too busy and went with white instead. At this point, I’d slightly redrew the mouth and eyes to make our MC less stoic. We settled on the art below for the final artwork.

#5. But because it wasn’t quite cyberpunk enough in tone, Alan adjusted the colour scheme to better fit what we’d need for the novelette. After Alan sent over the first image (top left corner), I began fiddling around with other colour combinations as well to see our different options.

#6. At this point, Alan began on the typography. Below are the initial mockups. There was a neat pulp aesthetic to it, but I found myself more so drawn to the style of typography and the glitchy aspects Alan had in his very first mock up (see #1).

#7. And so I passed along an attempt to replicate something similar to what he had done with the initial mockup, though, none of us could settle on a fitting colour scheme.

#8. Alan returned with another mock-up and glorious colour scheme adjustment.

9#. I returned to Paint and added in glitches to the cybernectic half of the face. Below is the final cover along with the unmarked artwork with the colour adjustment and glitches added.

If y’all can’t already tell, I’m horrid at narrating things it seems, but here we are! I hope everyone enjoyed the brief peek at the behind-the-scenes of how the cover of I AM AI was created!

Buy I AM AI here! 

Thank you as always for reading and supporting! Do hold onto your flashlights—and don’t wander too far into the dark… 👻


2 responses to “I AM AI Cover Art Feature”

  1. It’s an amazing cover! Thank you for sharing the creation process.

    1. Thank you for reading! 🥺

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