I'm just about to hit the halfway point with my current project to create a set of sample book covers, the two most recent ones are called, 'Proteus' and 'Human':
Proteus is what I refer to as a typical 'British' sci-fi book cover, as in a spaceship. Here is some inside the trade insight for you. Take a look at a British and then an American sci-fi novel, what you'll note in most cases is that the British novel is more likely to feature a spaceship, whilst the American novel will most likely feature a character on the cover. Studies show that Brit's like a spaceship and the American based folk like a character. Just to buck the trend, being British, I prefer a character on the cover. I think it comes from reading comic books.
The idea for 'Human' was a cover with a robot of some description featured on it. Having a think about everything from mechs to battle-bots I couldn't decide what to do, in the end I went for something with a bit more meaning and thought provoking than a glamour shot. A common sc-fi theme for robots is the ghost in the shell, the line blurring between human and machine. Thus the artwork for Human was born - so to speak.
As I was aiming for a more simple design, I needed to make a focus point, keeping in mind that the title of the book and the authors name will take up almost two thirds of the image when typeset. After playing about with lots of different full figure views I had the revelation of a close-up. This allowed me to telegraph very quickly to the reader the concept of a humanoid styled robot as the main feature without flooding the image with pockets of detail.
Artwork ©Simon Breeze 2016