Rob Caswell, who has crafted the covers for two upcoming Star Trek: Seekers novels—Long Shot and All That's Left, due out later this year from Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books—discusses his creative process in an exclusive StarTrek.com guest blog.

 I’m a long-time Trekkie, having been first meaningfully exposed to the series when it began to be syndicated on Boston TV stations in the 70’s. Back then, bringing The Making of Star Trek book with you to school was a guaranteed noogie – at best! The cranial trauma has long since subsided and those Trek memories have kept me solidly connected to The Original Series more than the later incarnations because of the inspirational role it played for me growing up  – not counting the noogies, of course.

This is my third cover for the Star Trek: Seekers series – a sequel of sorts to the popular Star Trek: Vanguard novels. It was also inspired by a set of faux-Trek book covers I’d created for fun a few years before, harkening back to the 70’s era James Blish novelizations. The series' objective is to return to a lighter and more episodic format than the Vanguard books – to be, in many ways, a homage to the look and feel of The Original Series: exploring strange new worlds, each week. The goal of capturing that nostalgic flavor extends to the writing, the art, and even the cover graphics.

 I was tickled that my online work would inspire the Vanguard writers the way it did – all hail the Internet! - but the icing on the cake was their inviting me on as the series' cover artist. I’d always been a fan of the paperback cover format, for illustration – probably due to how much impact they had on me and my art skills growing up. I’d always find myself looking back at good covers and studying them as I’d take a break from reading, like with Lou Feck’s cosmically dreamy work on the old Blish books. I’ve always felt a good cover can help you connect with a story even deeper.
I’ve been doing professional SF illustration since the 80’s (no covers though), so I was solid with the art basics, but in working with the 3D medium my modeling skills are – well, “rudimentary.” I’m working on developing those digital construction skills, but for the Seeker project I had to rely on an international team of skilled modelers to make it happen. So I’ve used models by the very talented Mark Azevedo and Geoff Edwards (the Sagittarius), Georg Angelakis (the Endeavour), Fabio Passaro (the Klingon Bird of Prey), and the prolific David Metlesits (the Klingon D-7), with a bit of my own texture customization. The scenes were assembled in the DAZ Studio 3D program and then fine-tuned and finished in Photoshop.

The goal of the first two covers in the Seekers series was to introduce our “vehicular heroes,” so we wanted create compositions that clearly showed the class of ship, name, and registry number. Doing the cover for Long Shot was fun because I could finally take off the “kid gloves” and start exploring more action themes without those introductory restraints.
 I began the project by reading through David Mack’s detailed story outline, looking for scenes that would make a dramatic cover subject. We kicked around  some candidates, narrowing it down to two, but this one seemed to have the best promise in being both eye-catching and immediately recognizable as Trek. A cover assignment like this usually takes me 3-4 weeks, from designing roughs to delivering the final. In this case, the idea we came up with was so solid, we were sure it was “the one” after a single rough. It shows off what a small ship like the Archer class can uniquely do in a pinch, as it power-dives through an energetic storm towards the planet’s surface with atmospheric friction creating a super-heated blaze on its forward shields. I was pretty happy with the final result and hope that others find it to be one of those images that helps lend a bit more depth to their reading experience.
 
On my Deviant Art page you can see the original “fan project” Seekers covers that inspired the series, as well the production covers, subject roughs, and other Seekers/Trek goodies. Go to rob-caswell.deviantart.com/gallery/50448940/Star-Trek-Seekers
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