Of the two cover designs I did for the month of April, Gold Dragon was definitely more of a challenge. Unlike Dragon Blood, I had a more specific type of message that I wanted the image to communicate with the cover. I wanted to show a dragon wounded by human warriors, a depiction that forms the premise of the short story.
I started with a public domain painting asset on Wikimedia Commons. I cannot state enough how amazing the commons actually are. Wikimedia does a great job and while there are a surplus of public domain images, many more are creative commons at least and usually only require attribution. I encourage you to check out the Commons and their image repository.
That said, I used the image in question as the background and applied many of the same filters I used to create the cover for Dragon Blood. To really give it the feel of an old painting, I duplicated the main image layer and did a cartoon effect to the bottom copy. In Photoshop, this is called the cutout effect, though you can achieve a similar result with a generic posterize.
With the top layer, I used a graphic novel effect with wide ridges to give it a more three dimensional feel that looked like globed paint and it really brought out the various lines of paint that the original image had streaming down. They were of course lines of blood from the beast depicted in the image, but after adhering the layers to a color hue, they appeared more as aged paint.
Finally, with a few more tweaks, I managed to get what I believed was a final product. I want to point out that I did not do this cover in one go. There was a point about midway through where I was unsatisfied with the end product and I did not know how to improve it to a level with which I was satisfied. This has happened more and more lately and I do believe that this is a good thing. At least for me, it means that my standards for excellent cover are is raising and that I am working to push the limits of my artistic ability.
However, without further delay, here is the finished cover art for Gold Dragon. I encourage you to read it. You can find it through the store tab on this site.