I'm so excited to have finally finished this piece. I really wanted to do something clean and finished because when I think of the movie "Inception", the words meticulous and deliberate come to mind.
As for the layout, I decided to feature Saito as the largest character not only because he's the mark, but also because he's the mastermind behind the events that are taking place in the story. The machinations of Cobb & Co. are successful only because they fit into Saito's plan (hence the little smirk on Saito's face)
Sonia is the key to getting to Saito, and therefore she and her red dress figure heavily into the cover. As the representation of love/lust, she pops out as the only saturated bit of color on the cover other than the title. Of course she had to be beautiful, but I also wanted to make her look sweet and guilty at the same time because she may be Saito's mistress, but she's also the penitent wife of a prominent figure, and not exactly the classic femme fatale.
I made a judgment call to include the bullet train instead of the cyclists because it's the "scene of the crime" and represents the culmination of the plan.
I tried to reference facial expressions and create poses for the team members to reflect their personalities and roles in the story. Arthur: confident/suspicious; Cobb: determined/holding the key to Saito's secret hideaway; Nash: wary/lacking confidence. All the characters on the cover are facing the reader as if they're constructs in a dream that have noticed something amiss and are focusing on the intruder.
All the elements were hand-drawn in Photoshop CS5 (with the exception of the royalty-free textures) over the course of the last 2 weeks.
That's pretty much it, thanks for checking this out and good luck to everybody!