When I saw Christian’s artwork, I was mesmerized and had to know more about him. I contacted him on Facebook, and fortunately, he was excited to do an interview for Amazing Stories. Needless to say, I had so many questions for him, this interview, and samples of his work will be a short series.
Firstly, Christian, please tell us about yourself!
I was born in Geneva, Switzerland. As my surname suggests, I have Greek roots and often dream of life in Greece. The rest of the time, I plot space operas and fantasy stories at home in Switzerland.
I have always been fascinated with space and Science Fiction in general. As a teenager, I was forever imagining stories, enjoying video games, and creating various art projects. With my sight always set towards the stars, my novels reflect many of my favorite things, like Star Wars, Star Trek, Babylon 5, and Stargate. I have fond memories of playing games like Wing Commander, a fact that should be apparent in my depictions of dogfight scenes.
I have always been drawn to imagining my stories in which my utopian aspirations for a better world where humanity shines and evolves towards a higher level of civilization often find their way into my novels. After trying to become a mangaka, a video game creator, an illustrator, and a CD cover artist, I realized along the way that the best medium to express myself was simply through the written word.
I began my career as a system engineer and understand technology very well even though I am more than happy never to have to fix a server again for the rest of my life! With that old life behind me, and now living my dream, I am thoroughly enjoying creating storylines and characters that entice the reader to reflect and to ask themselves what if? What if we did things differently? What if we challenged our beliefs? But I won’t imply that I am right with my questioning. I just have these questions and like to share them with my readers. In the end, I write, first and foremost, to entertain. So for a little while, readers can be transported to other worlds, and I hope they enjoy the ride.
This is the cover for my first published book, Earth – Last Sanctuary. To date, it’s the cover I’ve spent the longest creating. It’s probably also the most detailed. I’ve worked on it at such high resolutions that even printed on a wall poster you can’t see a single pixel and the more you approach the image, the more details pop. My computer back then with 32Gb of RAM struggled to deal with the high resolution (11500×8400 pixels or so) and hundreds of layers. It took me between 100 to 150 hours to complete, and I could easily have written another book in that time. But I’m glad I stuck with it and when the book sold it gave me confidence that I could not only write but also do great looking covers. Since I enjoy art, doing both is really great for me.
Your artwork is incredible. So detailed and exciting. Please tell us your process.
I started doing artwork early in my life, first drawing on paper and then later I discovered Photoshop and it completely changed the way I approached doing art. When I was about 18 years old, I switched to digital art and never looked back. Around the years 2004 thru 2009, I became a freelancer doing websites and CD covers (for metal bands). When time came to publish my first book in 2015, I hired an artist to do my book cover. Things didn’t go well; the artist was late on delivering the artwork and didn’t deliver on the concepts I wanted for my book. Since my first book was pretty much delayed 3+ months because of that, I didn’t want to rely on other people to do covers when I could do them myself. So I created my first cover, and since the book sold beyond my expectations, I continued designing my own covers. Eventually, I had other authors asking me to design their covers.
This is the cover for my 4th book, The Beginning of the End. It’s one of my favorite covers to date. Adding the characters was tricky and required more work as it meant adding another tool to render them (Daz studio). I probably spent over 50 hours on that one, but subsequent covers are now easier and faster to accomplish, especially those with ships only.
When I met you online, you were in the middle of holding an auction for one of your images. Can you tell us about that and about the conference the auction is at?
I have provided three artworks for the 20Books to Vegas convention that I attended on Nov 3 to 5. The conference is intended for new and established authors to network and gain insight about the publishing world. I approached the organizers about donating some cover designs that could be bid on and they loved the idea. The proceeds will benefit the Kindle for Troops charity, which one of the organizers is involved with. Kindle for Troops is a program that enables a person to donate their pre-owned Kindle reader to a soldier who is deployed overseas, but also monetary donations are accepted, which was intended with this auction.
As for me, I was just attending the conference, but on-call to help with design cover questions, if needed. Yes, there will be other cons for me in the near future, such as 20Books to London, Dragon Con in Atlanta; and I will be back for another 20Books to Vegas in 2018.
This is the cover for the first Universe in Flames Trilogy that achieved bestseller status on May 5th of this year. I’ve always LOVED playing starfighter games with arcade style dogfights like Wing Commander, or even more simulation type games like X-Wing Vs Tie Fighter or Elite. And that’s what I wanted to achieve with this image. To put the reader in the middle of the action, to make him/her feel like he/she’s the one sitting in the cockpit. Like most of my recent work, the 3D compositing and rendering is done directly in Photoshop, which makes my workflow and my life easier. Ever since I switched to Photoshop for both my scene creation, render and post work, I can make images much faster. This image has a lot of details as I created every little thing on the cockpit, every light, every screen, so it still took probably 20-30 hours achieving it, but I love the final result and it clearly paid off as the first Universe in Flames trilogy has been my biggest earner.
Next week we’ll take a look at some of Christian’s books with excerpts, and learn more about his future plans.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Christian-Kallias/e/B0104NYKH6